Business Writing For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Transitions, those low-key words and phrases, are like the connective tissue that holds your business writing skeleton together and empowers you to move where you want. Transitions tell readers how all the ideas, facts, and information in a piece of writing connect to each other. They grease your writing and pull people along in the direction you want to take them.

Good transitions signal good writing and good thinking. They help you organize your own ideas as a writer. And for the reader, they promote the feeling that your argument is sensible and even unassailable. Transitions are important tools for all writing — and for persuasive copy, they’re essential.

Transitions can consist of single words, phrases, or sentences. They can be put to work within a sentence, to link sentences, and to connect paragraphs. Think of them in the following categories.

To continue or shift a line of thought, or indicate agreement or addition:

additionally on the other hand
also but
and however
consequently alternatively
for example originally
furthermore nevertheless
mainly despite
so in other words
sometimes conversely
To establish a sequence or time frame:
as soon as ultimately
at the moment finally
first, second, third later
to begin with next
to conclude for now
To indicate examples or emphasis:
in other words for this reason
namely in this case
significantly often overlooked
surprisingly on the positive side
To reinforce a desired focus or tone:
disappointingly it sounds good, but
equally important provided that
I’m sorry to say given that
invariably counterintuitively
luckily of particular interest
unfortunately at the same time
unless in the hope that
Notice that the last set of words and phrases are prejudicial — that is, they orient a reader or listener to feel a certain way about what follows. Use them consciously.

Transitions give you a good way to begin paragraphs or sections, while putting that information in context of the full message. The following are examples of whole sentences that serve as transitions:

  • Based on this data, we’ve made the following decisions.
  • We’ve considered all the information and have reached some conclusions.
  • We should pay special attention to the sales figures.
  • A number of issues need to be addressed. Our priorities:
Notice how these introductory statements set up a super-simple way to organize subsequent material, including within long, complicated documents.

As with all writing principles, there can be too much of a good thing. When you give your writing the read-aloud test and it sounds stilted and clumsy, review your transitions — you may need to remove some. Do so and you still have a well-organized, convincing message.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Natalie Canavor's career spans national magazine editing, journalism, corporate communications and public relations. Her writing for business media, professional audiences and The New York Times have won dozens of national and international awards. She has taught advanced writing seminars for NYU and conducts frequent workshops.

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