Paragraph transition is the movement between paragraphs, specifically how effectively logical order and transitions/transitional devices are used.
Arranging paragraphs so that the content of one leads logically to the next, will highlight a relationship that already exists by summarizing the previous paragraph and suggesting something of the content of the paragraph that follows. A transition between paragraphs can be a word or two, a phrase, or a sentence.
Transitions can help reinforce your paper’s organization by providing the reader with essential information regarding the relationship between your ideas.
In the example below, the author uses the topic of reading strategies to both introduce the topic and conclude the first paragraph. Then, the author refers back to those reading strategies to introduce the second paragraph and expand the discussion on the topic.
- One of the larger impacts on our writing as students is how we go about reading the texts we’re assigned in classes. It is simple to suggest that actually doing our assigned reading is critical; however, effective, careful reading is a bit more involved than that, and it is this reading that is crucial to our writing process. For instance, I have a problem reading while lying down because I risk dozing off when I do. My solution has been to avoid this behavior, but in recognizing and remedying that problem, I have only taken one step in the long process of developing useful reading strategies.
- Successful reading strategies can help us understand complicated or confusing writing. They can improve our memory for what we have read. They can even help us with synthesis, or drawing connections across many texts. These strategies can involve how we read, when and how we make annotations, and what questions we ask ourselves as we read.
Miller, Logan. "Reading Strategies: 24 Questions to Improve Understanding." Web log post. UNR Writing Center Blog. University of Nevada, Reno, University Writing Center, Apr. 2014. Web.
First, the writer introduces the idea of reading strategies while concluding this paragraph. The writer describes their personal experience in recognizing and developing useful reading strategies.
- My solution has been to avoid this behavior, but in recognizing and remedying that problem, I have only taken one step in the long process of developing useful reading strategies.
The writer then provides a sentence to introduce the reader to this paragraph on reading strategies. This allows the writer to expand the scope of the discussion on reading strategies by introducing the function of reading strategies, rather than focusing on the writer’s own reading choices. This lets the writer move from a narrow discussion (their own personal reading strategies) to a broad one (why reading strategies are important).
- Successful reading strategies can help us understand complicated or confusing
These two sentences work together to create a clear and smooth transition between different parts of the same topic. The author is able to move between explaining their personal experience with reading strategies into a broader discussion of reading strategies as a whole through their use of paragraph able to move from one topic to the next without confusion.
Paragraph transitions can also be used to spark interest in the connections made between ideas.
In this example, the author uses the first paragraph to set up and contextualize a comparison that they are making between theses and roadmaps. Then, they use the first sentence of the second paragraph to tell the reader what that comparison is.
- More often than I’d like to admit, I see theses that look something like this: “In society today, a lot has changed.” The student then turns to me and asks if their thesis is okay, and I have to look them in the eye and tell them I honestly didn’t know they had a thesis. This is a tough conversation to have—after all, a thesis is an extremely important part of any scholarly essay, but it is an easy issue to solve, and I find myself drawing upon a specific comparison to describe a thesis in essay writing.
- Your thesis is like a roadmap. It needs proper signposts and markings to let people know how to get to their destination, and in the event that it is unable to provide these signposts, people can get lost. Your thesis is exactly the same way. If your thesis can’t guide me through your argument, the nuance and logic of your essay can be lost, just like a person who doesn’t have a roadmap or directions. We need these signposts, as readers, to get through the paper without a hitch.
Matzek, Stewart. "The Roadmap to Your Paper: Specificity in Your Thesis Statement." Web blog post. UNR Writing Center Blog. University of Nevada, Reno, University Writing Center, Apr. 2014. Web.
The writer concludes this paragraph with a discussion of the problem with thesis statements and suggests there is an easy comparison to make to solve this issue.
- This is a tough conversation to have—after all, a thesis is an extremely important part of any scholarly essay, but it is an easy issue to solve, and I find myself drawing upon a specific comparison to describe a thesis in essay
The next paragraph starts with the comparison and then continues on to expand on the comparison.
- Your thesis is like a roadmap.
These transitions work to guide the reader between paragraphs while also concluding or introducing their respective paragraphs. The ending of the first paragraph is almost like a cliffhanger: the reader is pushed into the next paragraph by their desire to find out what that comparison is. This helps drive interest throughout the paper and helps link ideas together by establishing relationships between paragraphs.