Conventions of Composition Rule 212

Rule: To help your reader move from idea to idea, you must provide the links. Between sentences, you might need just a word (also, next, unfortunately, however) or phrase (on the other hand, in some cases, in other words,) to transition. Between paragraphs, you're likely to need half a sentence. Transitional expressions (furthermore, however, consequently, in addition to, etc.) should be used wherever they will help to show the connection in thought between paragraphs, sentences, or clauses. To transition between paragraphs, include your linking idea at the beginning of the new paragraph rather than at the end of the preceding one.

Note: First, secondly, and in conclusion etc, are often unduly obvious and mechanical.


Fine transition at the beginning of a paragraph: Even though Odysseus has a hard time getting home [that’s from the last paragraph], Penelope. . . [now we’re onto our new paragraph’s idea].

Fine transition at the beginning of a paragraph: Because of this desire to seem crazy [idea from last paragraph], McMurphy goes on to . . . [new topic for this paragraph]).

Weak transition: Secondly, let us see whether this novel contains a skillfully handled plot.

Better transition: In addition to her characterizations, the chief merit of this novel lies in its skillfully handled plot.

Weak transition: Thus, to sum up, I have shown you that while character and setting are not entirely neglected, it is the plot which is the best and more important element in this novel.

Better transition: King, indeed, doesn't entirely neglect character and setting, but he creates the plot as the most important element in this novel.

Practice writing stronger transitions:

  1. In this paragraph, I'll explain how Daisy's new life affects Gatsby's dreams.

  2. In conclusion, Stanley causes as many problems as Blanche does.

  3. Second, Romeo seems ready to fall in love again.

Resources for more instruction on writing better transitions:

The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill's TransitionsOpens a New Window.

Aims Community College OWL's Transitions