Transitions & Signal Words
We use transitions in writing to connect ideas and signal to readers that we are moving through our discussion. Transitions help writers organize their papers and help readers understand how ideas and parts of the paper fit together. These transitions can occur Between Paragraphs and Between Sentences.
Each of your paragraphs should refer to a previous idea. In order to make sure the ideas flow logically, we use transitions between paragraphs to link ideas and show readers how the paragraphs are connected. Example phrases include:
- While A suggests B, C suggests D.
- After looking at A, we move to B.
- In addition, C also argues D.
We use transitions between sentences to link ideas and help the sentences flow coherently.
Use transition words such as first, next, however, and in addition to show the relationships among sentences and ideas. Repeat key words or phrases to tie related sentences together:
The new black middle class came of age in the 1960s during an unprecedented American economic boom and in the hub of a thriving mass culture. The economic boom made luxury goods and convenient services available to large numbers of hard-working Americans for the first time. American mass culture presented models of the good life principally in terms of conspicuous consumption and hedonistic indulgence.
—Cornel West, Race Matters*
Use parallel phrases—phrases that begin with the same word or that share the same grammatical structure—to emphasize connections among similar examples or related pieces of information:
I spent my two days at Disneyland taking rides. I took a bobsled through the Matterhorn and a submarine under the Polar Ice Cap and a rocket jet to the Cosmic Vapor Curtain. I took Peter Pan’s Flight, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Alice’s Scary Adventures, and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. I took a steamboat and a jungle boat. I took the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to Coyote Country and the Splash Mountain roller coaster to Critter Country. […] More precisely, those rides took me: up and down and around sudden corners and over rooftops, and all I had to do was sit back and let whatever conveyance I was sitting in do the driving.
—William Zinsser, American Places*
Common Transition Words and Phrases:
To Add: and, again, and then, besides, finally, further, too, in addition, moreover, as equally important, as well, also, furthermore, likewise, moreover, similarly, still, next
To Compare/Contrast: but, yet, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, on the contrary, by comparison, where, compared to, although, conversely, meanwhile, after all, in contrast, nonetheless, rather, instead
To Prove: because, for, since, for the same reason, furthermore, moreover, indeed, in fact, as a result, consequently, accordingly, thus
To Show Exception: yet, still, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, of course, aside from, barring, except, excluding, other than, save
To Show Time/Sequence: immediately, thereafter, soon, finally, then, later, previously, formerly, first (second, third, fourth, etc.), next, first of all, to begin with, in turn, meanwhile, afterward, in conclusion, following, subsequently, previously, simultaneously, concurrently, after, before, consequently, previously, hence
To Repeat/Summarize: as I have said, as I have noted, as I have shown, as a result, in brief, in short, finally, to summarize, therefore, after all, in any case, in other words, once again, consequently
To Emphasize: definitely, extremely, surprisingly, without a doubt, certainly, above all, chiefly, especially, particularly
To Give an Example: for example, for instance, to illustrate, in this situation, to demonstrate, in this case, in particular, namely, specifically, such as, including
To Generalize: as a rule, for the most part, generally speaking, usually