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Transitions for Writers

Transitional words and phrases help writing flow in ways that make sense to readers.

By Joan Whetzel

Writing sentences and paragraphs that flow well includes the use of transitions. Transitions connect ideas in such a way that makes it easier for readers to make the connections between the ideas. They’re like bridges that connect two shores on opposite sides of a stream or river.



Using Transitions and Connections

Transitions consist of single words and phrases that tie together parts of a sentence, parts of a paragraph, or separate paragraphs. In some cases, an entire paragraph may be the transition from one section of a paper to the next section. These transitional paragraphs summarize what the readers just read and indicates how the previous section will relate to the section they are about to read.


In addition, transitions  are used to connect different parts of a sentence as well as being used to sentences within a paragraph. They act as visual cues for the reader, preparing them for what is coming next.  Without transitions, writing can seem disjointed, making it difficult for readers to understand. The paragraphs and sentences may seem like a bunch of disconnected ideas that the reader cannot find the relationship between.


Transition and Connection Words and Phrases

The list of transitional and connecting words and phrases is broken down into categories based on how they are used. A few of the words and phrases appear under more than one category.

·         Transitional Words Showing Spatial Order: above, across, adjacent, alongside, around, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, in front of, in the middle, opposite, throughout, under upon, within

·         Transitional Words Showing Time, Place, and Chronological Order: first, meanwhile, next, second, later, presently, finally, eventually, opposite to, sooner or later, adjacent to, in the beginning, then, prior, prior to, here, before, during nearby, following, at length, at the point, afterward, at the end, soon, now, moments later, in the meantime, at the moment, formerly, at last

·         Transitional Words Showing Order of Importance: first, in the first place, a second factor, equally important, furthermore, of major concern, of minor concern, best of all, finally, least important, most important

·         Transitional Words that Compare / Contrast: equality, similarity, the same, in the same way, just as, likewise, in the manner, however, on the other hand, despite, otherwise, but, yet, conversely, on the contrary, unlike, nevertheless

·         Transitional Words that Show Cause and Effect: affect, as a result, because, causes, consequently, then, effect, results, therefore, why, so, thus

·         Transitional Words that  Add Ideas to Previously Stated Ideas: moreover, furthermore, besides, equally important, and, and then, in the same fashion, further, likewise, too, not, again, in addition, also

·         Transitional Words That Illustrate or Sum Up an Idea: for example, in any event, in brief, in other words, as I have said, in short, to sum up, for instance, in any case, on the whole, in fact, as a result, in particular, namely, also.

·         Transitional Words for Conceding a Point: granted that, no doubt, to be sure

·         Transitional Words for Paraphrasing or Summarization: in other words, to conclude, to sum up

·         Transitional Words that Draw a Logical Conclusion: accordingly, consequently, as a result, hence

·         Transitional Words Used as Diversion: by the way, incidentally

·         Transitional Words Showing Emphasis: above all, chiefly, with attention to, especially, particularly, singularly

·         Transitional Words for Generalization: as a rule, as usual, for the most part, generally, generally speaking, ordinarily, usually





Davies-Silcott, Loma G. Freelance Writer’s Special Reports, Transitions = Strong Word Bridges. North Stratford, NH: CNW Publishing, Editing &Promotion, Inc.2000.


Study Guides and Strategies. Transitional Words and Phrases. Downloaded 3/5/2012.


University of North Carolina a Chapel Hill. Transitions. Downloaded 3/5/2012.


Purdue Online Writing Lab. Writing Transitions. Downloaded 3/5/2012.

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2 Responses to “Transitions for Writers”
  • marqjonz
    March 6th, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks. I’ve noticed I need some improvement with transitions. The list will help. We have to be careful with some of these phrases. For example, “as a rule’ often precedes weasel words.

  • marqjonz
    March 6th, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I also flagged this article as “wrong category” and suggested a move to Writinghood.

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