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How to Transition Into a New Paragraph

by Josh Patrick, Demand Media

    Good transitions in an article set the stage for the following paragraph, as well as demonstrate the intended relationships between the ideas the writer is presenting. A good transition from paragraph to paragraph is like a carefully stitched seam. You don't notice when it works well, but leave it out and the garment has noticeable holes.

    Step 1

    Choose a couple of adjacent paragraphs that lack transitional elements. Call these "Paragraph A" and "Paragraph B." Be certain that they should be logically connected in the first place.

    Step 2

    Determine the relationship between the main ideas of both paragraphs. For example, Paragraph B might build upon the logic of Paragraph A, or it could present a counterargument. Understanding this relationship is critical in choosing the right transitional element.

    Step 3

    Take note of how Paragraph A concludes. It should leave the door open for some sort of continuation.

    Step 4

    Revise the opening sentence of Paragraph B so that it picks up where Paragraph A left off. Use transitional elements like "next," or "in addition" to move the discussion forward.

    Step 5

    Reread the two paragraphs. Notice if the transition is smooth and logical. If not, continue revising. It is possible that these two paragraphs don't belong next to each other, and you should think about reorganizing the entire document.

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    Tip

    • Don't rehash the same transitional devices over and over again. When your paper lacks variety, it will sound robotic and dull. Try to employ more subtle devices when possible, such as echoed words and phrases.

    Warning

    • Your transitions form the connective tissue of your argument. Misusing them can twist your intended meaning and lead your audience to misunderstand your point. Before you call your work finished, read through it carefully. Pay close attention to all of your paragraph transitions. If the logic does not seem clear, then further revision is necessary.

    About the Author

    Josh Patrick has several years of teaching and training experience, both in the academy and the private sector. He presented original work at the 20th Century Literature Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Patrick worked for three years on the editorial board for "Inscape," his alma mater's literary magazine. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science.

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