Writing Program

Paragraph Transitions

Dominique Battles, English

The transition between one paragraph and the next happens between the final sentence of one paragraph and the first sentence of the next. Think of these transitions as the hinges between paragraphs that hold the entire essay together. The topic sentence of one paragraph "hooks" into the end of the previous paragraph. Transitions enable you to remind your reader of what you've just said, and introduce them to the next point you will discuss.

Good transitions feature a closing sentence of one paragraph that 1) summarizes the contents of the paragraph and, 2) also anticipates the topic of the next paragraph. The topic sentence of the next paragraph, in turn, may echo that closing sentence. Clear transitions in a piece of writing are usually a sign of a skilled writer.

How exactly do we achieve good paragraph transitions?

You can achieve a good transition by:

  1. A careful repetition of words between the end of one paragraph and the beginning of the next.
  2. Addressing a question left hanging in the previous paragraph.
  3. Using linking words at the start of the new paragraph, such as "therefore, moreover, furthermore, on the contrary, additionally, nevertheless, also, however." (Note that some of these words (furthermore, moreover) suggest agreement with what came before, while others ("however," "on the contrary") suggest a challenge or contradiction of the previous idea.)


You have a short essay before. Working in small groups or individually:

  1. Read the essay and find five examples of good transitions.
  2. Go through all five examples and indicate which of the three techniques mentioned above the author uses to make the transition.
  3. In each case, underline the operative words that affect the transition.