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Transition words and phrases order ideas – by time, cause, or other relation. They alert the reader that the course of the paper is about to change. They can be useful at the beginning of a paragraph, at the end of one, or even within a sentence to signal a shift in emphasis or direction.

Providing transitions between the ideas in your paper helps your reader understand what you are saying. These brief words and phrases can make the difference between an easily understood paper and a confusing one.

Basic Transitions

Here are some common and useful transitions, grouped by function to help you identify exactly what you want to say. Choose one, insert it in your paper, and then read it aloud.

addition again, also, and, and then, besides, equally important, finally, first, further, furthermore, in addition, in the first place, last, moreover, next, second, still, too
comparison also, in the same way, likewise, similarly
concession granted, naturally, of course
contrast although, and yet, at the same time, despite that, even so, even though, for all that, however, in contrast, in spite of, instead, nevertheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the other hand, otherwise, regardless, still, though, yet, while
emphasis certainly, indeed, in fact, of course
example or illustration  after all, as an illustration, even, for example, for instance, in conclusion, indeed, in fact, in other words, in short, it is true, of course, namely, specifically, that is, to illustrate, thus, truly
summary all in all, altogether, as has been said, finally, in brief, in conclusion, in other words, in particular, in short, in simpler terms, in summary, on the whole, that is, therefore, to put it differently, to summarize
time sequence  after a while, afterward, again, also, as long as, at last, at length, at that time, before, besides, earlier, eventually, finally, formerly, further, furthermore, in addition, in the first place, in the past, last, lately, meanwhile, moreover, next, now, presently, second, shortly, simultaneously, since, so far, soon, still, subsequently, then, thereafter, too, until, until now, when


Advanced Transitions

Repeat key words or phrases:

“Dickens suffered as a child under the British welfare system. He was hungry, lonely, and cold. . . . Because he had suffered as a child, Dickens was able to write his novels of social injustice and reform with a profoundly compelling realism.” 

First state one idea or fact (“Dickens suffered”), then relate that to another (“Because he had suffered”).

Refer to a noun mentioned earlier by using a pronoun:

“Dickens suffered as a child under the British welfare system. He was hungry, lonely, and cold. . . . His childhood suffering gave Dickens’s novels a compelling realism.” 

Make doubly sure that the pronoun you use is very clearly connected to the noun you have in mind. Adjectives or adverbs should prove useful here.

Parallel ideas:

“The social injustice Dickens experienced in his underprivileged youth became the social injustice his thousands of fans experienced in his reform-minded novels.” 

Here, using the same terms (“social injustice” and “experienced in”) and the same arrangement of words (“The social injustice ____ experienced in _____”) in each phrase clearly and memorably connects the two parts of the sentence. Use of “became” rather than “was” emphasizes the transition.


Reference: Weber, Ryan, and Karl Stolley. “Transitional Devices.” Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL), 2 February 2018, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/574/02/.

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