300 Days of Better Writing

October 14, 2011

Transitions and transition words

Creating transitions between ideas can be tricky, but it is necessary. A smooth, coherent flow of ideas requires effective transitions. Here are two of eleven strategies from 300 Days of Better Writing to help you.

Day 163: Use transition words and phrases to switch topics.

You are writing about one idea, and now you want to write about a new idea. You could just switch from one to the other, but this may confuse the reader. This is a bad idea. The reader may exclaim, “Wait a minute. I thought I was reading about . . . Why am I now reading about . . . ?”

You can use transition words and phrases to answer this question and make the transition smoothly. These words and phrases inform the reader that you are changing topics. Some examples are below.

“In light of these ideas/concepts/facts, . . . .”
“This raises the idea that . . . .”
“Additionally, . . . .”
“Furthermore, . . . .”
“This brings us to the idea that . . . .”
“Having discussed . . . , we need to turn our attention to . . . .”
“Next, . . . .”

Day 172: Use transition words infrequently.

Day 163 discussed using transition words to inform your reader that you are switching topics. Although this is perfectly acceptable (and sometimes necessary), you should only use this technique sparingly.

In effective writing, you relate new topics to previous topics so that each new idea seems like a logical extension of the previous topic. When you begin writing about the new topic, your first task is to discuss how it relates to the previous topic. If you are switching to a new topic, ask yourself these questions:

1. Why do I need to write about this new topic at this time?
2. How does this new topic relate to the one I just discussed?
3. Will the reader be able to answer the first two questions?

Do this well, and the reader will know you are writing about a new topic and will understand why. You won’t need the transition words.

These two writing strategies are from  300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

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