Essay Lab Glossary




Think of transitions as signposts scattered throughout your essay that help your readers navigate through the various ideas and twists and turns. If they see one that says “Enter at your own risk” and they go in anyway, you can’t be held responsible.

The idea is to craft a paper that flows so smoothly that your readers won’t notice at all when they jump from one paragraph or idea to the next. In fact, if you could get them to space out completely for the next ten to fifteen minutes, that would be awesome.

There are two major ways you can use transitions: transitioning through words and transitioning through ideas.

Transition words are words that link one idea to another, and indicate the relationship between the ideas. Like they might let the reader know that Word A and Word B are seeing each other, but taking it kind of slow.

Here are some examples:

  • Transitions that show contrast: but, however, in contrast, whereas
  • Transitions that show similarity: additionally, also, similarly
  • Transitions that show sequence: first, second, next, subsequently, previously

You can also transition through ideas. You can make a connection by echoing a key phrase from an earlier paragraph (HELLO…Hello…hello…), subtly reminding your readers that the two are linked together. As you may have been able to tell, subtle isn’t Shmoop’s forte. Still, we try.