What are transitions, and how can they help improve my writing?
Transitions hold a piece of writing together. They move the reader from one fact to the next in a smooth, logical order. WIthout transitional words and phrases, your writing is just an uninteresting list of facts or events.
Think of transitions as the couplings between train cars. Your document's introduction is the engine, the conclusion is the caboose, and the body of the document is the cars.
You can choose between several methods of transition when writing:
Relate new ideas to ideas your mentioned earlier.
Move in a logical sequence from one thought to the next.
Repeat key names or pronouns.
Use transitional words and phrases.
Transitional words and phrases may relate to:
Time: eventually, finally, now, often
Addition: again, also, in addition, too
Caussation: because, consequently, since, thus
Comparison: contrary, different, like, similarly
Contrast: although, but, despite, however, still, yet
The following is an assertion and a list of facts supporting it. Without any transitions, it is choppy and simplistic.
Washington, D.C., deserves a baseball team. Washington has a baseball tradition. Two major league teams played there. Washington is one of the largest TV markets in the country. Washington has a vibrant economy and a large population that can support a profitable team. Washington is far larger than many markets that already have a team.
By additing transitions, you weave the facts together into a piece that is easy and pleasant to read:
The Washington, D.C. metro area deserves a baseball team for several reasons. First, it has a baseball tradition: Two major league teams have called the area home. Second, it is one of the largest TV markets in the country. Third, it has a vibrant economy and a large population that can support a profitable team. Finally, it is far larger than many markets that already have a team.
In the same way, you can take a set of facts...
The dialect of Paris is standard French.
The dialect of Rome is standard Italian.
The dialect of Madrid is standard Spanish.
The dialect of upstate New York and lower Michigan and is standard American English, according to scholars and broadcasters.
... and link them together with transitions to draw a conclusion:
In many countries, the dialect people speak in the capital becomes the standard language for the whole country. In France, for example, the dialect of Paris is standard French. Likewise, the dialect of Rome is standard Italian, and the dialect of Madrid is standard Spanish.
The situation in the United States is different, however. The dialect natives of Washington, D.C., speak is not standard American English. Rather, scholars and broadcasters consider the standard to be the dialect people speak in upstate New York and lower Michigan.
In this example, the repetition of the words dialect and standard also serve as transitions linking the parts of the piece to each other.