In the first revision stage, revising for idea structure, purpose, and audience, you look at the overall logical order of information to determine if the topic sentences and units of support are in a logical order, given the argument in the thesis. You check to see if you’ve used transition words effectively to show the linkage from one topic sentence and unit of support to the next. This is revising for flow of information on a macro level.
However, you also should revise for flow of information on a micro or paragraph level. Flow on the paragraph level deals with how easily one sentence moves into the next for your reader. The previous page on Revising for Style introduced the concept of “sentence fluency” or flow; here are examples of good and bad flow in paragraphs, from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles’ writing guides website. Can you tell which paragraph has better flow of information?
- “Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The southern part of Costa Rica is characterized by dense rain forests, which contain some of the world’s most unusual wildlife. Hoping to get a bird’s eye view of these animals, tourists take zip lining tours through the top canopy of the rain forest. Located in Central America, it borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Some of the interesting creatures found in these forests include tree frogs, white-faced monkeys, and sloths.”
- “Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Located in Central America, it borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. The southern part of Costa Rica is characterized by dense rain forests, which contain some of the world’s most unusual wildlife. Some of the interesting creatures found in these forests include tree frogs, white-faced monkeys, and sloths. Hoping to get a bird’s eye view of these animals, tourists take zip lining tours through the top canopy of the rain forest.” 
Paragraph 2 has a better flow. It starts with Costa Rica’s general location, and then moves to a particular location within Costa Rica. The second sentence ends by mentioning “unusual wildlife,” which is a more general lead-in to the third sentence in which the author specifies the wildlife. The fourth sentence links to the third by mentioning “these animals” again, before it moves to talking about tourists.
In contrast, Paragraph 1 hops around from wildlife to tourists to general location to specific wildlife. While the information is the same, the flow of this paragraph makes it more difficult to read and digest the information.
So, much of the way to revise for flow on the paragraph level is to consider the order and linking of your sentences. However, flow on the paragraph level also deals with sentence structure and how easily the sentences “sound” and can be read.
Here’s another example from Sarah’s essay in progress. Can you tell which paragraph has the better flow of information?
- Yet if you look at these arguments one by one, you can see that these skills may be addressed online, albeit in a slightly different way. Public speaking can be taught online because, first of all, online speakers may very well be able to see their audience’s reaction and adjust their tone and message accordingly. Skype, Zoom, and other technologies offer real-time, audio and visual experiences that link speaker and audience. Although they are dispersed and not in the same room the speaker can still see what’s going on with other participants and can see from their attitudes and expressions whether they are engaged and whether tone or content needs to be altered. Even in asynchronous environments, audience response may be so immediate that the speaker can respond in almost-real time (think of Rosanne’s posts, quick audience reaction on Twitter, and her quick responses). The environment may not be exactly the same as a room with everyone in it, the skills of observation, situation analysis, and adjustment can still be taught and learned online.
- Online speakers can learn speaking skills in a slightly different way. Online speakers can see their audience’s reaction. Online speakers can use Skype and Zoom. They also have other technologies to see speech attendees. They can see attitudes and expressions. Online speakers can respond in almost-real time. They can learn how to observe. They can learn how to analyze the situation in real time. They can learn to adjust their tone and message accordingly, based on their observations and analyses.
In this example, although the information is almost the same, Paragraph 1 has the best flow. Paragraph 2 is “choppy,” because Sarah, at a very initial writing stage, used the same subject-verb sentence structure for all of the sentences in the paragraph. Try to vary your sentence patterns, as well as use linking words, to create an easy flow.
As you revise for flow of information within paragraphs, review the following:
- sentence order
- transition use
- sentence structure
For more information and examples of flow, plus a short activity to try, connect with UniLearning’s page on logical flow within paragraphs.
 “Directed Learning: Cohesion.” Library Guides > Writing > Style and Grammar > Cohesion, Loyola Marymount University, LA, libguides.lmu.edu/c.php?g=324079&p=2174120.