Your writing comprises tons of ideas. Linking and connecting them cohesively and eloquently makes your writing easier to understand and helps people follow your logic. Jumping from thought to thought without a transition creates confusion and an abrupt shift that turns readers away.
What is a transition?
Words like next, then, however, likewise, etc., create a flow and rhythm to your writing that helps readers move through it easier. Transitional phrases like on the other hand or in spite of help you clarify if the next thought supports or opposes the first thought.
Use transitions to show chronological order, cause and effect, comparisons, and contrasts between ideas.
Why are transitions important?
Without transitions, your writing becomes disjointed and awkward. Using appropriate transitional words and phrases helps introduce, contradict, or reinforce your ideas. It makes it easier for readers to follow and figure out the point you’re trying to make. Think of transitions like road signs guiding your readers from point to point, idea to idea, etc.
Examples of transitions
Here’s an example of how to transition between two related or connected ideas.
Idea 1: Driving too fast is dangerous because your reaction time is shorter the faster you go.
Idea 2: Crashes are more serious at high impact speeds.
Connected: Driving too fast is dangerous because your reaction time is shorter the faster you go. In addition, crashes are more serious at high impact speeds.
Here’s an example of a transition between two contradictory ideas.
Idea 1: Most fast food is extremely unhealthy because of high fat, calories, and salt content.
Idea 2: Fast food restaurants know how to make it extremely tasty, making it hard to resist.
Connected: Most fast food is extremely unhealthy because of high fat, calories, and salt content. On the other hand, fast food restaurants know how to make it extremely tasty, making it hard to resist.
The next example links two ideas together showing cause and effect.
Idea 1: The boy’s bike hit a crack in the sidewalk and veered into the street.
Idea 2: A distracted driver glanced at her cellphone as she rounded the corner.
Connected: The boy’s bike hit a crack in the sidewalk and veered into the street. At the same moment, a distracted driver glanced at her cellphone as she rounded the corner.
How to tell if your transitions are working
ProWritingAid’s Transition Report scans your document at the click of a mouse to highlight the transitions in your work. Based on the type of writing you’re analyzing such as non-fiction or fiction, the report tells you if your work is short on transitions.
Whether you’re using the online editor or the desktop app, open the document you want scanned, then choose the writing style at the top right-hand corner of the screen. This will help the report customize its findings whether you’re writing a story, a business piece, etc.
The menu bar across the top lists all the ProWritingAid reports you can run. You may have to click on "More" to find the Transition Report. It’s right after the Homonym Report.
Once you click on the report, it scans your document and offers a report summary in the left-hand side of the window. The report shows you the percentage of transitions you’ve used. As a general rule, writing needs at least 1 transition for every 4 sentences to help readers better understand it.
Use the Transition Report to get a quick score letting you know how well you’ve used transitions in your work. Regardless if you’re writing a novel or a business proposal, the Transition Report will return a percentage of sentences with transitions so you know if you’re on the right track.