People don’t like reading. And even less so when writers make comprehending what they’re trying to communicate difficult.
In a country where the daily time adults spend reading is not even 17 minutes, news consumption trends are changing and breaking through the noise is difficult for brands across industries. When your goal is communicating information clearly and concisely, transition words, phrases and sentences take on increased importance to ensure readers follow and understand your message.
Although transitions may seem minor in writing, this post will highlight how they play a crucial role in helping make your message more engaging and exciting to read.
Why Transitions Matter in Written Communication
What is a transition in writing? Transitions are the glue that holds longer pieces of content together into a unified whole. Transitions refer to words, phrases or sentences that logically connect different ideas, paragraphs or sections. Playing a crucial role in enhancing the readability and flow of a text, transitions help guide readers from one point to another smoothly and effectively.
Without transitions, a piece of writing may appear disjointed, confusing or choppy, challenging audiences to follow the author’s train of thought. Using appropriate transitions can help writers create a more organized and cohesive piece that is easier to understand and ultimately derive value from.
Transitions can help one’s writing in the following ways:
- Creating logical connections between sentences, paragraphs and sections of articles.
- Signaling relationships between ideas.
- Establishing the coherent flow that readers follow.
- Guiding readers along the path you present them, informing them how to think about, organize and react to the information presented.
Instead of treating paragraphs as separate ideas, transitions can help readers understand how paragraphs work together, reference one another and build to a more significant point. When creating longer-form content, pick up one paragraph where another leaves off relatively frequently. If this is a tall task, those paragraphs might not belong together!
If those paragraphs don’t fit well, you might need to reorganize the content or cue readers that a more significant shift is coming. Let’s talk about different kinds of writing transitions.
Types of Transitions in Writing
Writing has several transition words and phrases and other kinds of transitions.
Transition words often fall into several broader categories:
- Additive: Additive transition words introduce new information or examples by expanding upon, comparing with or clarifying copy. Common examples include “additionally,” “for instance,” “considering this result,” “similarly” and “namely.”
- Causal: Causal transition words describe the cause, expressing purpose, consequence and condition. Common examples include “because,” “as a result of,” “in the case that,” “otherwise,” “so that” and “for the purpose of.”
- Contrastive: Contrastive transition words frequently signal an adversarial relationship of some sort. Common examples include “however,” “whereas,” “nonetheless,” “whatever the case,” “most importantly” and “or at least.”
- Sequential: Sequential transition words indicate an order of events. Common examples include enumeration (first, second, etc.), “at first,” “subsequently,” “as previously mentioned,” “given these points,” “finally” and “in conclusion.”
Repetition of key words and ideas is another way to create transitions in your writing. By pulling an important word or phrase from the previous sentence, you can repeat it in your transition sentence to effectively build the bridge in the reader’s mind. Picking up key phrases from the previous paragraph and leveraging them in the next paragraph creates an obvious progression for readers.
Whether transitioning between sections, paragraphs or sentences, consider directly summarizing the content of a preceding sentence, paragraph or section or imply such a summary. That way, your transition helps the reader anticipate or comprehend the new information you wish to present.
Tips for Using Transitions Effectively in Your Writing
Making the most of transitions in your writing demands knowledge of how to use them effectively and strategically.
Tip #1 Identify the Purpose of Each Paragraph or Section
Before drafting, consider the purpose of each paragraph or section. What information are you trying to communicate? What is your main idea or argument? By understanding the goal, you can choose the appropriate transition to help connect your ideas.
Tip #2 Choose Appropriate Transition for the Purpose
As noted, you can use several different types of transitions in your writing, so practice using various styles. But make sure that the transition you are using fits the context of the text to keep the copy interesting and engaging. If the transition doesn’t make sense, the document is harder to read. Whether transitioning between sections or paragraphs or within paragraphs, the word, phrase, sentence or whole paragraph you use should either directly summarize the preceding content or imply such a summary before helping readers anticipate and understand the new information you’re about to present.
Tip #3 Use Transitions Sparingly and Strategically
While transitions can help connect ideas and improve the flow of your writing, using too many can also make your content feel choppy and disconnected. Much like a PowerPoint presentation riddled with transition effects, overusing transitions in writing can be distracting, annoying or show that your content needs more substance or cohesion.
After you’ve written a first draft, revise your content to improve your use of transitions. Ensure each transition type fits the context and serves a clear purpose in connecting your ideas without going overboard or introducing incoherence. By following these tips, you can improve the overall readability and flow of your writing.
At Comprise, our content development team understands how transitions create the connections that unite the components of your piece of content — whether a presentation to drive sales, a contributed article to exhibit thought leadership or a blog post to build your brand awareness — into a comprehensive, coherent and persuasive whole. Let us know how we can help you present your ideas in a clear and easily understandable way that boosts your business.