Transitions are linking words that show the direction of thought in writing. Transitions can show:
- more of the same type of thought (e.g., another, also, and, in addition)
- a change in thought (e.g., however, but, in contrast)
- sequence (e.g., first, second, next, finally)
- a result (e.g., therefore, consequently, as a result)
- a cause (e.g., because, since)
- …and more.
Once you have identified and developed your units of support, and considered the sequence in which you intend to present those units of support in your essay, it’s time to consider transitions. Think of transition words or phrases as bridges that bind ideas together, or as directional signs that help a reader follow the trail of thought or sequence of supporting ideas in your essay.
Transitions may or may not come easily to you as you draft your essay. If they do not, then simply write your draft first, and go back to it to insert transitions to show the overall linkage or direction of thought at various changeover points. Traditional places for transition words and phrases in an essay include the following:
- at the start of each unit of support
- as you move from paragraph to paragraph within a unit of support
- as you move from supporting point to supporting point within a unit of support/as you link sentences within paragraphs
- as you move into your conclusion
Read the useful handout on Transitions from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Writing Center for more information about and examples of transitions.