The Summarizing Transition

This link begins with a phrase or clause that sums up the preceding paragraph and then moves to the main clause, which introduces the new topic. (Unless idiom prohibits it, the elements of the transition should always be in that order: summary of old topic, statement of new one.) //- and while-clauses frequently carry such transitions:

If I went through anguish in botany and economics—fodifferent reasons—gymnasiurrwas even worse. James Thurber

But while Bernard Shaw pleasantly surprised innumerable cranks and revolutionists by finding quite rational arguments for them, he surprised them unpleasantly else.

also by discovering something G. K. Chesterton

Long summarizing transitions tend to be formal in tone. On informal occasions it may be better to avoid a full if- or and state the summary more briefly. Here, for example, a writer moves from the topic of college teaching methods to that of personal responsibility:

Because of these differences in teaching methods, college throws more responsibility upon the student.

A summarizing transition may take even briefer form, using pronouns like this, that, these, those, or such to sum up the preceding topic. The historian J. Fred Rippy moves from the severe geographical conditions of South America to a discussion of its resources:

These are grave handicaps. But Latin America has many resources in compensation.

Although the "these" in that example is perfectly clear, such pronouns can be ambiguous when used as the subjects of sentences, especially when they refer to the whole of a long, complex idea. If you do use such a pronoun in this way, be sure that readers understand what it refers to. Should there be a doubt, make the pronoun an adjective modifying a word or phrase that fairly sums up the preceding point: for example, "These handicaps are grave."

Logical Transitions

Finally, you may link paragraphs by words showing logical relationships: therefore, however, but, consequently, thus, and so, even so, on the other hand, for instance, nonetheless, and many, many more. In the following passage the historian and political scientist Richard Hofstadter is contrasting "intelli gence" and "intellect." In the first paragraph he defines "intelligence." By placing the transitional phrase on the other hand near the beginning of the second paragraph, he signals the other half of the contrast:

.. . intelligence is an excellence of mind that is employed within a fairly narrow, immediate, and predictable range. . . . Intelligence works within the framework of limited but clearly stated goals.

Intellect, on the other hand, is the critical, creative, and contemplative side of mind.

Here is another example—a discussion of Hamlet—in which moreover indicates that the new paragraph will develop an extension of the preceding idea:

If I may quote again from Mr. Tillyard, the play's very lack of a rigorous type of causal logic seems to be a part of its point.

Moreover, the matter goes deeper than this. Hamlet's world is preeminently in the interrogative mode. Maynard Mack

Logical connectives seldom provide the only link between paragraphs. Actually, they work in conjunction with word repetitions, summaries, pronouns. In fact, all the various transitional strategies we have looked at commonly occur in some combination. But whatever its form, an interparagraph transition should be clear and unobtrusive, shifting readers easily from one topic to the next.

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Project Management Made Easy

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