Flow Words For Essays

Anyone who has ever received criticism about a written assignment has quite possibly been told to use more transition words, which is where this list of transition words come in handy.

List of Transition Words

While you do not want your paper or other written piece to sound like a long string of transition words, consider adding some of these suggestions when appropriate in order to spice up your work and to make the sections flow more smoothly from one to another.

What follows is a list of transition words which you might want to use in your writing from time to time. Note that some of them are phrases and not singular words.

  • Therefore
  • However
  • Moreover
  • Lastly
  • Next
  • Also
  • Furthermore
  • In addition to
  • Similarly
  • Likewise
  • Accordingly
  • Hence
  • Consequently
  • As a result
  • Thereby
  • Otherwise
  • Subsequently
  • Thus
  • So then
  • Wherefore
  • Generally
  • Usually
  • For the most part
  • As a rule
  • Ordinarily
  • Regularly
  • In particular
  • For instance
  • Particularly
  • Especially
  • Such as
  • Including
  • Namely
  • For example
  • As an example
  • In this case
  • Above all
  • Singularly
  • Likewise
  • Coupled with
  • Compared to
  • In comparison to
  • Together with
  • Besides
  • In brief
  • In short
  • In conclusion
  • In the meantime
  • Soon
  • Later
  • In the meanwhile
  • Afterward
  • Earlier
  • In summary
  • To summarize
  • Finally
  • Before
  • After
  • By the way
  • Incidentally
  • As a result of
  • Accidentally
  • Here
  • There
  • Over there
  • Opposite
  • Under
  • Beyond
  • In the distance
  • To the left
  • To the right

Purpose of Transition Words

Transition words help a written piece to flow more smoothly. Without these types of words, your writing will become choppy. However, sometimes, when a writer is advised to use a new type of device in his or her writing, that person will tend to start sprinkling it in everywhere. Transition words should really fall very naturally throughout a composition.

Let's take a look at examples of sentences without a transition words, and then add a transition word in. You will be able to see how they work with the written word. The first example in each set is lacking a transition word, and the second example in each set has one added.

  • Carla spent a long day working at school and then cooked dinner for her family. She needed a large cup of coffee.
    Carla spent a long day working at school and then cooked dinner for her family. Therefore, she needed a large cup of coffee.
  • Jeffrey will be ready to leave for the trip in 20 minutes. Fill up the car with gas please.
    Jeffrey will be ready to leave for the trip in 20 minutes. In the meanwhile, fill up the car with gas please.
  • The trip through the desert was extremely tiring for the crew. Then they saw civilization.
    The trip through the desert was extremely tiring for the crew. Then, in the distance, they saw civilization.
  • Paul did not run for the ice cream truck with the other children. He doesn't like ice cream.
    Paul did not run for the ice cream truck with the other children, because he doesn't like ice cream. 

After you read these senetences over a few times, you will see how adding in a transition makes the written word flow better.

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List of Transition Words

By YourDictionary

Anyone who has ever received criticism about a written assignment has quite possibly been told to use more transition words, which is where this list of transition words come in handy.

Essay flow

“Flow” is a word often used by lecturers to describe the way that the essay holds together and moves from point to point. In an essay it is very easy to pile facts upon facts, and thus lose sight of the overall cohesion of the essay. Flow can apply within individual paragraphs and between different paragraphs.

This video lecture discusses the process of refining a draft assignment to improve the flow and clarity of the writing.

Within paragraphs

Having researched your topic in preparation for writing an essay, you will probably have accumulated a wide range of facts, published research, and other information relevant to the topic. Many people simply throw these facts together in body paragraphs, without properly applying them to the topic or signalling to the reader the connections between them.

Firstly, you must ensure that all outside sources are integrated with your own writing. They should not appear randomly through the paragraph but should be given context, and interpreted for the reader. For more on this, see quoting and paraphrasing.

It is also important to link information together to create a kind of “narrative” in your essay. Consider this example paragraph:

Incorporation offers several advantages to businesses and their owners. Ownership is easy to transfer. The business is able to maintain a continuous existence even when the original owners are no longer involved. The stockholders of a corporation are not held responsible for the business's debts. If the XYZ Corporation defaults on a $1 million loan, its investors will not be held responsible for paying that liability. Incorporation enables a business to obtain professional managers with centralised authority and responsibility; the business can be run more efficiently. Incorporation gives a business certain legal rights. It can enter into contracts, own property, and borrow money.

There are a lot of facts, but the paragraph feels jumpy and disjointed. Simply adding a few connecting words – known as “signposts” – make it much more readable:

Incorporation offers several advantages to businesses and their owners. For one thing, ownership is easy to transfer. The business is able to maintain a continuous existence even when the original owners are no longer involved. In addition, the stockholders of a corporation are not held responsible for the business's debts. If the XYZ Corporation defaults on a $1 million loan, for instance, its investors will not be held responsible for paying that liability. Incorporation also enables a business to obtain professional managers with centralised authority and responsibility; therefore, the business can be run more efficiently. Finally, incorporation gives a business certain legal rights. For example, it can enter into contracts, own property, and borrow money.

Signposts make your writing flow more smoothly and make it easier to follow.

They tell the reader

  • what is going to be said
  • what is being said
  • what has already been said
  • how the main ideas support the thesis statement
  • how each group of ideas follow from the ones before

Some of the most common signposts are listed here, according to what they do in a paragraph.

Signpost words and phrases

Highlighting or emphasising a point

Importantly, …
Indeed, …
In fact, …
More importantly, …
Furthermore, …
Moreover, …
It is also important to highlight …

Changing direction or creating a comparison

However, …
Rather, …
In contrast, …
Conversely, …
On one hand, …
On the other hand, …
In comparison, …
Compared to …
Another point to consider is …

Similarly, …
Likewise, …
Again, …
Also, …

Finally, …
Lastly, …
In conclusion, …
To summarise, …
In summary, …
Overall, …
The three main points are …

In particular, …
In relation to …
More specifically, …
With respect to …
In terms of …

For instance, …
For example, …
this can be illustrated by …
…, namely, …
…, such as …

Acknowledging something and moving to a different point

Although …
Even though …
Despite …
Notwithstanding …

Following a line of reasoning

Therefore, …
Subsequently, …
Hence …
Consequently, …
Accordingly, …
As a result, …
As a consequence, …
To this end, …

Between paragraphs

“Flow” can also be applied to the connections between paragraphs.

As discussed in the page on body paragraphs, each paragraph should discuss only one major point. However, each body paragraph must also be different from the other paragraphs. Its major point should be unique.

The unique point of each paragraph should be identified before you begin writing: this is the most important part of the planning stage. You might be discussing several aspects of the answer, or analysing it from different perspectives. You might be following it chronologically, or presenting one side and then the other.

If a paragraph flows well from point to point, it should be obvious to the reader when you move from one point to another. The signpost words described above can also be used between paragraphs, to indicate the transitions from one sub-topic to another.

For example, if you are analysing one study and then comparing it to another in a later paragraph, a transition would use a word or phrase from the “changing direction or creating a comparison” list:

In contrast to the conclusion drawn by Smith (2004), Nguyen (2006) showed that the connection between the factors was not causal in most circumstances.

A paragraph that illustrates a point with a case study or example would use the “giving an example” list to create a transition:

The interpretation in Nguyen (2006) was supported in practice, as illustrated by the fieldwork of Corelli (2008).

Transitions show the reader the “movement” between paragraphs: they show that they follow a logical order and build on each other. They can also show the reader how the paragraphs reconnect with the overall topic of the essay as described in the thesis statement.

If you cannot identify the movement from one paragraph to another, you may need to return to the plan to see if they are actually unique. If your paragraphs jump over important points, repeat themselves, or leave gaps in the explanation, this will also undermine the flow of the essay.

Page authorised by Director, CTL
Last updated on 25 October, 2012

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