Transition signals in writing

Transition signals in writing? What do you mean? Well, I was talking to a student the other day in a tutorial after he had finished a Pre-sessional Academic English Language Course. What he said to me really made me smile:

"I learned a lot about academic writing. I learned that you can't just write anything you want. Every sentence must be there for a reason."

Yes, exactly! When you speak you can say anything you want. But in written Academic English every sentence builds on what has gone before and links up. All the sentences go together to form a long cohesive message. Academic writing is like building a house! Every sentence has  a function and a role, like the different parts of a building. I was searching for some good materials on making writing come together (which is being cohesive) and I came across these sentences on a webpage at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

In this section, you will find many instructional materials we've developed for our Writing Center teaching. However, there are limitations to these materials. Assignments vary, and different instructors want different things from student writers. Therefore, the advice here may or may not apply to your writing situation. Finally, handouts can give only a fraction of the customized guidance that a meeting with a Writing Center instructor can provide.

(Taken from: http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/Transitions.html#purpose)

And I thought that actually that paragraph was itself a good example of writing cohesively using transition signals:

In this section, you will find many instructional materials we've developed for our Writing Center teaching. However, there are limitations to these materials. Assignments vary, and different instructors want different things from student writers. Therefore, the advice here may or may not apply to your writing situation. Finally, handouts can give only a fraction of the customized guidance that a meeting with a Writing Center instructor can provide. 

An important part of good academic writing is to use words like however, therefore and finally properly because it shows how your first idea links to your next idea. There's a couple of good lists of transitional signals you can use in your writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison here and from the University of New South Wales here. Most importantly you should be noticing how they are used as you read Academic English.

Remember: you can't just write anything you want!

 

Share This