The word transition literally means movement from one piece of information to another. In writing, transition means moving from one sentence to another or one paragraph to another smoothly without abrupt shifts in logic or subject. To accomplish this smooth movement of thoughts, a writer will sometimes use certain words or phrases that act as bridges to carry readers into a new sentence or paragraph. Without these transitional elements, an essay can read like a list, or at best a group of loosely connected statements. Transitional elements prepare readers for each new idea and relate each new statement to the preceding ones.

Transitions can be

  • Single words, phrases, clauses, or even whole sentences
  • Repetitions of key words, ideas, or phrases
  • Using pronouns such as this, these, and them
  • Combining short sentences into compound and complex ones

Examples of Transitions

Use the list below as a guide only. Be creative and use words, phrases, clauses and even whole sentences to bridge the gaps between ideas. Don’t use the same transitional device over and over. Vary the devices to avoid monotony and redundancy.

Transitions that Signal Chronological Order

First, second, third . . . next, then, after, before, during, meanwhile, at first, when, as soon as

Transitions that Signal Spatial Order

Nearby, near to, beside, over, far from, next to, under, around, through, in front of, behind, surrounding, alongside, away from, on top of, around, toward, at

Transitions that Signal Adding a Point Order (Random Order)

In addition, moreover, furthermore, too, finally, lastly

Transitions that Signal Contrast

However, nevertheless, on the other hand, on the contrary, even though, despite, in spite of

Transitions that Signal General Example

Sometimes, on certain occasions, often, many times, frequently, in some cases, in a few instances (Always follow general examples with specific ones.)

Transitions that Signal Specific Example

To illustrate, for example, for instance, as an illustration, in particular, especially in fact

Transitions that Signal Order of Importance

More important, most important, of least importance, of less importance, most of all, best of all, of greatest significance, least of all, even better, foremost, especially

Transitions that Signal Clarification of Point

That is, in other words, in effect, put simply, stated briefly

Transitions that Signal Summing up or Restating Central Point

In sum, to sum up, in summary, to conclude, as you can see, in short, in conclusion

Transitions that Signal Stages in a Process

First, second, third . . ., initially, at the outset, to begin with, first of all, up to now, so far, thus far, next after, finally, last of all

Transitions that Signal Cause/Effect Relationship

As a result, consequently, because, in consequence

Transitions that Signal Attitude

Fortunately, unfortunately, naturally, in a sense, luckily

Transitions that Signal Reference

The former, the latter, the following