Transitions are words and/or phrases used to indicate movement or show change throughout a piece of writing. Transitions generally come at the beginning or end of a paragraph and can do the following:
Transitions sentences often indicate or signal:
Transitions show connections between ideas. You must create these connections for the reader to move them along with your argument. Without transitions, you are building a house without nails. Things do not hold together.
Transitions can signal change or relationship in these ways:
Examples: while, immediately, never, after, later, earlier, always, soon, meanwhile, during, until now, next, following, once, then, simultaneously, so far
Examples: yet, nevertheless, after all, but, however, though, otherwise, on the contrary, in contrast, on the other hand, at the same time
Examples: in the same way, in like manner, similarly, likewise
Examples: here, there, nearby, beyond, wherever, opposite to, above, below
Examples: because, since, for that reason, therefore, consequently, accordingly, thus, as a result
Examples: in conclusion, to conclude, finally, in summary
Writing strong transitions often takes more than simply plugging in a transition word or phrase here and there. In a piece of academic writing, writers often need to use signposts, or transition sentences that also function as topic sentences, signaling the reader of connections to the thesis. To form a signpost, combine transition words, key terms from the thesis, and a mention of the previous topic and new topic.
Transition/signpost sentence structure:
[Transition word/phrase]+[previous topic]+[brief restatement of or reference to thesis/argument]+[new topic] = Signpost
Sample signpost using complimentary transition phrase:
According to [transition phrase] the same overall plan for first defeating Confederate forces in the field and then capturing major cities and rail hubs [overall thesis restated] that Grant followed by marching the Army of the Potomac into Virginia [previous topic], Sherman likewise [transition word] advanced into Georgia to drive a dagger into the heart of the Confederacy [new topic].
Contrasting ideas have the same essential format as complimentary but may use different transition words and phrases:
In contrast to [transition phrase] F.D.R., who maintained an ever-vigilant watchfulness over the Manhattan project [previous topic + reference to overall thesis], Truman took over the presidency without any knowledge of the atomic bomb or its potential power [new topic].
The overall structure of an essay with transitions may look something like this:
*Note how transitions may come at beginning or end of paragraphs, but either way they signal movement and change.
You can learn more about essay structure HERE.