Readers agree that effective writing proceeds in some sensible order with each sentence following naturally from the one before it. We generally call that “coherence” or the sense that the material is unified. When the material doesn’t feel connected or “whole,” the reader might comment that the organization is “jumpy” or “doesn’t flow well.”

The organization of your ideas helps maintain the overall organization; however, organization is not sufficient. The actual syntax and prose must be coherent to be fully successful. To make your writing coherent, you can use a variety of devices that tie together words in a sentence, sentences in a paragraph, paragraphs into an essay. Here are a few ways of creating tighter, more cohesive prose.

Adding Transitional Words & Sentences:

Integrate transitional words and phrases to signal connections. These transitional markers support the relationship between ideas or the movement to new ideas. Here are a few, but take a look at Hacker (P30b) for a more complete list.

  • To summarize or restate:  In fact, Therefore
  • Time Markers:  After, Many years ago
  • To relate Cause & effect: Therefore, thus, as a result, because
  • To Add or Amplify:  Also, too, moreover, furthermore
  • To compare: Similarly, likewise
  • To Contrast: However, Nevertheless, conversely
  • To express Condition:  Although, though
  • To give example: For example, For instance, in particular

Using Transitional Sentences:

Try repeating the key word of a previous sentence, especially in beginning a new paragraph to create continuity of thought.

Transitional Paragraphs:

Use a transitional paragraph, especially in longer papers, when you feel the reader might get lost or confused. Lead the reader through development of ideas while reminding them of the purpose or focus of the discussion so far.

Here’s an example:

So far, the physical and psychological effects of driving in heavy traffic have been discussed. (This is the transitional sentence.) Now, the causes of traffic need to be explored. Why does traffic occur? Moreover, what are traffic engineers planning for future highways?

Using Repetition:

Another way to develop relationship is to repeat words and phrases. Such purposeful repetition guarantees the reader’s understanding of the topic and the development of ideas.

Repeating exact words

Reinforcing through synonyms

Strengthening Pronouns:

Pronouns refer back to the nouns they’re replacing and as a result can serve as transitional words by making readers recall the topic. However, readers become frustrated and your prose loses clarity when those “antecedent” nouns are difficult to remember. Here are a couple of  Helpful hints:

  1. Avoid beginning a paragraph with a pronoun that refers to a noun from the previous paragraph.
  2. The pronoun “this” relies on your reader remembering what “this” is. So, try using a noun after this to reinforce meaning. For example, this principle