What is often called “flow” in a paper, referring to the seamless and engaging transitions between two sentences or between one paragraph and the next, is not the product of magic or luck. Rather it is the product of logic—the ability to recognize and make explicit the logical relation between two sentences or two paragraphs. Logic generally depends on one of several strategies for reasoning. These strategies include seeing similarities, making distinctions, identifying hierarchies, and constructing either analogies or syllogisms. In the absence of logic, most students will resort to merely listing their thoughts: new paragraphs will start with words like “another,” “one other,” or "moreover."
Here is one example of a weaker and stronger paragraph transition taken from a Hum 110 paper on Lucretius.
Weaker transition: “One other false belief about death that Lucretius believes humans experience is their concern for the loss of tangible and earthly possessions.”
Stronger transition: “The final and most prominent false belief about death Lucretius critiques is the common and superstitious fear that the afterlife consists of being placed in Tartarus for eternity.
Below are lists of words used in English to convey logical relations: these words may illuminate the logical connection you are searching for to link one claim to the next in your reasoning.
Transitional words and phrases that suggest similarity between ideas:
- in addition
Transitional words and phrases that suggest contrast between ideas:
- on the other hand
- in contrast
- by comparison
Transitional words and phrases that suggest a hierarchy of ideas:
- above all
- in particular
- more specifically
Transitional words and phrases that suggest deductive, syllogistic, or analogical reasoning:
- these findings indicate
- just as... so...
- if this... then this...