How to Transition Between Ideas

Updated September 14, 2017
Once you have a good grasp of what you are writing, the next step is to link the different ideas together as you write. Many of the points mentioned in How to Develop A Thesis and How to Develop Topic Sentences are going to come into play during this part of the writing process. For the sake of this explanation, let us use the typical essay outline:

  1. Intro-Thesis (XYZ)
  2. Body Paragraph 1 (X)
  3. Body Paragraph 2 (Y)
  4. Body Paragraph 3 (Z)
  5. Conclusion
As previously discussed, the thesis consists of the main idea of your paper written in subject, verb, object form. In addition to these three components, your thesis should have details about how you are going to analyze or argue the main idea. In the example above, there are three details (X,Y, and Z). Each body paragraph is assigned one of these details. Now, you have to figure out how to link them together.

Think of all five sections as separate puzzle pieces. The first sentence of each paragraph will be the topic sentence. The topic sentence must accomplish two things: refer back to the previous paragraph and give insight into the present paragraph. Thus, each paragraph will have a piece of the previous paragraph, and all five pieces will fit together to complete the puzzle. This step ensures that all of the content is connected on a paragraph by paragraph level.

In order to ensure that all of the wording is connected, it is necessary to focus on individual paragraphs. Here are a few tips to link ideas together on a sentence by sentence level:
  • Use complex sentences (and, but, or, ; ⎼ ) 
  • Use transitional words (since, so, however, furthermore, similarly, thus)
  • Use transitional phrases (In contrast, For example, On one hand, On the other hand, In this case, For instance, etc.)
  • Use synonyms - For example, if the verb of your thesis is explores, come up with a few synonyms to use throughout the paper such as analyzes, examines, evaluates, considers. This simple tool will help keep your reader engaged AND focused.
Once the sentences are linked together in each paragraph and the content of all the paragraphs is connected, you have mastered transitions. Even though an essay is thought of as one cohesive idea there are a variety of small components. Making those components line up is what makes the paper cohesive.

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