Transition words are used in academic essays to signal the reader that the author is about to go more deeply into a point, offer a different set of ideas, or move in a new direction altogether. Unless transition words are used, these changes in position can seem abrupt or even illogical. Choosing the best essay transition words depends upon whether the essay’s next point will support or oppose the previous idea, explore a cause or effect, or provide an illustration of the previous point.
Transitional phrases and words function a bit like a road map; there may be cases where they aren’t absolutely necessary, but providing them helps the reader feel more secure about where the paper is going. Unfortunately, when transition words or phrases are used unnecessarily, they can muddy the waters rather than clarify. There are a number of transitional words that mean the same thing; it’s best to use a variety to keep the paper from sounding repetitious or flat.
To introduce a transition that supports the idea under discussion, use words like “in much the same way,” “also,” or “furthermore.” Words that indicate similar ideas include “as well as,” “correspondingly,” and “in comparison.” If the author plans to go more deeply into an idea, a good choice of essay transition words might include “adds to,” “in addition,” or “equally important.”
In order to signal a negative relationship to the idea under discussion, such as a contradiction or limitation, include essay transition words like “although,” “on the other hand,” or “in contrast.” If the author’s intention is to set forth a point that only seems valid, using transition words such as “but in reality” or “is not the case” are appropriate. On the other hand, if the point is valid but there is an equally valid opposing position, using transition words such as “and yet” or “be that as it may” will help the reader realize the point under discussion is a complex one.
Some transitional phrases or words are limited to specific conditions or causes. Using a phrase such as “with this in mind,” “in order to,” or “leads to” lets the reader know the particular topic point depends upon a situation. “Consequently” or “accordingly” are transition words that signal a result or effect.
Another category of essay transition words are those used to introduce an illustration or specific example of an idea. “For example” is both clear and direct; “to demonstrate” tells the reader a vignette or other exhibit will be used to give the point added validity. Other illustrative transitional words include “such as,” “to clarify,” and “should be remembered.”