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How to Write an Effective Essay: Paragraph Transitions & Connections

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the word transition means passage from one place or time to another in writing transitions move our attention from one paragraph to the next paragraph one sentence to the next sentence without effective transitions to lead the way a reader is likely to get lost in your essay unable to follow the sequence of ideas an essay that lacks transitional elements will seem disjointed like a random list of ideas instead of a unified and coherent whole while you may know the connections between ideas your reader may not it’s the writers job to make these connections clear one way to accomplish a smooth passage is through the use of transitional expressions another way is to echo a word or structure from the previous sentence or paragraph in either case the objective of an effective transition is to create a smooth passage from one point to the next let’s take a look at an effective transition from one paragraph to the next later we’ll examine successful transitions between sentences one way to alert your readers to the logical connection between two paragraphs is to refer to the main idea of the previous paragraph in the first sentence of the new paragraph set up this transition by ending the first paragraph with a strong concluding sentence that restates the main idea in this example the writer connects two paragraphs using the main idea of the first as a bridge to the main idea of the second the advantages of starting a career before enrolling in college include the discipline and maturity that come with a full-time job many adult students have already learned how to manage their time effectively before they attend their first classes they know how to prioritize tasks and submit assignments on time the exposure to different positions within the workforce can be valuable when it’s time to choose a major this well-earned discipline and maturity can set the stage for a Demming success the advantages of professional experience on the other hand may seem like a mixed blessing to the adult student who is too busy with the job to devote sufficient time and energy to college classes transitional words and phrases clarify the logical connections between paragraphs sentences or even two ideas within a single sentence here are just a few examples of the transitional expressions we can use to indicate time or chronological order the logic of cause and effect a difference between two or more things a similarity between two or more things an additional point or idea a movement from general ideas to specific details and a summary or movement from specific to general notice how the writer uses commas to punctuate the transitions in the following examples time order or chronological order transitions establish the passage from one moment or one time to another these transition words and phrases are essential to narration and testimony for example here’s how one writer narrated a recent UMUC graduation ceremony first the master of ceremonies welcomed the honored guests second the deans of the school of undergraduate studies stepped on to the floor members of the faculty walked in pairs to their seats next the graduating class filed in to the measured beat of pomp and circumstance a father who had returned to complete his degree after a 30-year hiatus led the procession meanwhile his son who had started taking college classes during his final year of high school walked next to him in matching cap and gown in the past a multi-generational graduating class might have seen strange now it’s commonplace other transition words and phrases show a cause-and-effect relationship between one sentence and the next my psychology textbooks arrived a week early therefore I was able to preview some of the key concepts before the start of classes I posted my comments about another student’s paper after the due date consequently she was not able to respond I was unable to find any relevant secondary sources for my report as a result I was forced to do extensive primary source research for the evidence to support my conclusions when you need to contrast or show the difference between two or more things used these transitions the path she is on to achieve her dream of a college degree is long and hard however she will soon have a proud reminder framed on her wall of every hard-earned success along the way the study group found that collaborating on the project was more difficult than they had expected on the other hand sharing the work made the final report stronger than it might have been if they had each worked alone she was not able to register for all of the classes on her list nevertheless she will still graduate as planned in the spring some transitional words and phrases alert your readers that you will examine the similarities between two things the flexible schedule of online classes suits the diverse needs of working students similarly the global reach of distance education meets the requirements of a truly international student body many first-generation college students demonstrate their commitment to education by earning high grades in the same way their family members help them accomplish their goals through hard work and devotion addition words indicate that one idea or example will follow another each of the practice exercises contains items that are correct and others that need revision furthermore the review test includes a rough draft that requires editing the textbook introduces important characteristics of successful public health projects in addition the appendix lists the member organizations who have contributed to the fight against malaria and polio Jane Stratford was the first person to establish a Women’s Health Center in the city moreover she was the first woman to serve as director of public health in the state government another kind of transitional expression helps the reader make the switch from general information to specific details members of the committee have provided valuable advice to the administration on matters of shared governance for example last year they presented the results of a survey that measured the popularity of new registration policies each member of the committee spoke about one aspect of the new rules for instance Alexander Stephens presented the section on late registration finally transitional phrases are sometimes used to indicate that the switch will be from specific details to general ideas or summary statements summaries may appear at the end of a paragraph in a concluding sentence before he was able to record the results of their experiment his partner had extracted the relevant data calculated the mean and average compared these findings to their original hypothesis and written up the results in short his partner had done all the work the reasons for keeping the lab clean include the danger of harmful bacteria and the difficulty of establishing a reliable control group in an impure environment in conclusion a clean lab is essential to safe and accurate experiments think of the transitions between paragraphs and between sentences as the glue that holds the essay together you can signal the logical connection between paragraphs by echoing the topic of one paragraph in the first sentence of the paragraph that follows another strategy is to use a transitional expression within a paragraph you can smooth the connection between sentences by inserting an appropriate word or phrase without these logical markers you can’t be sure that the reader will understand the connection between one paragraph in the next or between one sentence and the next overall effective transitions will enhance the flow of your writing

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