Effective Technical Writing in the Information Age

Transition Words


The best stylists become masters at artfully placing transition words in pivotal positions—i.e., places where the sentence or paragraph meaning "shifts" slightly. What follows is a handy list of common transition words and their functions. If you open sentences appropriately with these words it will help your writing to flow. One caveat though: Always keep the literal meaning of a transition word in mind as you use it—therefore, do not use "for example" unless you are introducing an example that links to the preceding information; do not use "nevertheless" unless you are offering a contrasting point. Note how this paragraph has required a minimal use of transition words; they should not be forced in where they do not belong. When you do use them, keep their broader functions (i.e., "causality," "emphasis," etc.) directly in mind. 

Causality Emphasis Amplification
Accordingly Above all Again
Consequently Certainly Also
For this reason Clearly Apparently
Hence Indeed Besides
Therefore In fact Equally important
Thus In short Finally
  Obviously First, Second, etc.
Intention Of course Further
For this purpose   In addition
In order to do this Closure Moreover
To this end In conclusion  
With this in mind In sum Detail
  On the whole Especially
Location To summarize In particular
Beyond   In regard to
Here Similarity Namely
Nearby Likewise Specifically
Opposite Similarly To enumerate
Overlying (underlying)    
There Time Comparison/Contrast
To the right (left) Afterward However
  At the same time In contrast
Concession Before In relation to
At any rate Earlier Nevertheless
At least Eventually On the other hand
  In the meantime Still
Example Sometimes  
For example Later Interpretation
For instance Next Fortunately
To demonstrate Preceding this Interestingly
To illustrate Simultaneously Significantly
  Soon Surprisingly