How to Add Transitions in Your Business Writing
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|
|so||in other words|
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|
|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|
|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.