Transition Signals In Essay Writing

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing. This page gives information on what transition signals are, the grammar of transition signals, and different types of transition signals. The is also an example essay at the end in which you can highlight the different types of transition signal.

What are transition signals?

Transition signals, along with repeated words and reference words, are one of the main ways to achieve good cohesion and coherence in your writing. They are therefore a way to help ensure that your ideas and sentences cohere or 'stick together'. Transition signals are used to signal relationships between ideas in your writing. For example, the transition signal 'for example' is used to give examples, while the word 'while' is used to show a contrast. In addition, there are phrases like 'in addition' for adding new ideas. Likewise there are words such as 'likewise' to connect similar ideas.

Grammar of transition signals

Broadly speaking, transition signals can be divided into three types:

Sentence connectors are used to connect two sentences together. They are joined by a full-stop (period) or semi-colon, and are followed by a comma. The following are examples of sentence connectors.

Clause connectors are used to connect two clauses together to form one sentence. They are joined by a comma. The following are examples of clause connectors.

Other connectors follow different grammar patterns. Many are followed by noun phrases. Some are verbs and should therefore be used as verbs in a sentence. The following are examples of other connectors.

Types of transition signals

Below are examples of different types of transition signals. They are divided by type, and sub-divided according to grammar.

To introduce an additional idea

Sentence connectors

  • also
  • besides
  • furthermore
  • in addition
  • moreover
  • additionally


  • another (+ noun)
  • an additional (+ noun)

To compare

Sentence connectors

  • likewise
  • similarly
  • equally
  • in the same way

Clause connectors

  • and
  • both... and
  • not only... but also
  • neither... nor
  • just as


  • as... as
  • like/alike
  • just like
  • to be similar to
  • to be alike
  • to be similar

To contrast

Sentence connectors

  • however
  • in contrast
  • instead
  • in/by comparison
  • nevertheless
  • nonetheless
  • on the other hand
  • on the contrary
  • still

Clause connectors

  • but
  • yet
  • although
  • even though
  • though
  • whereas
  • while


  • despite (+ noun)
  • in spite of (+ noun)
  • compared to/with
  • to be different (from)
  • to be dissimilar
  • to be unlike
  • to differ (from)

To introduce a cause/reason


  • to result from
  • to be the result of
  • due to
  • because of
  • to be the effect of
  • to be the consequence of
  • as a result of
  • as a consequence of

To introduce an effect/result

Sentence connectors

  • as a result
  • as a consequence
  • consequently
  • hence
  • thus
  • therefore


  • to result in
  • to cause
  • to have an effect on
  • to affect
  • the cause of
  • the reason for

To give an example

Sentence connectors

  • for example
  • for instance
  • in this case


  • such as (+ noun)
  • like
  • an example of (+ noun)
  • to demonstrate

To show chronological order

Sentence connectors

  • first, second, etc.
  • first of all
  • then
  • next
  • now
  • then
  • soon
  • last
  • finally
  • previously
  • meanwhile
  • gradually
  • after that
  • since
  • then

Clause connectors

  • after
  • as
  • as soon as
  • before
  • since
  • until
  • when
  • while


  • the first, the second
  • the next, the last, the final
  • before (lunch etc.)
  • after (the war etc.)
  • since (1970 etc.)
  • in the year (2000 etc.)

To show order of importance

Sentence connectors

  • above all
  • first and foremost
  • more/most importantly
  • primarily


  • a more important
  • the most important
  • the second most significant
  • the primary

To show an alternative

To identify or clarify

Sentence connectors

  • that is
  • in other words
  • specifically

To reinforce

Sentence connectors

  • in fact
  • indeed
  • of course
  • clearly

To conclude

Sentence connectors

  • all in all
  • in brief
  • in conclusion
  • in short
  • in summary


  • to summarise
  • to conclude
  • It is clear that...
  • We can see that...
  • The evidence suggests...
  • These examples show...

Example essay

Below is an example essay. It is the one used in the persuasion essay section. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different types of transition signal in this essay.

Title: Consider whether human activity has made the world a better place.












History shows that human beings have come a long way from where they started. They have developed new technologies which means that everybody can enjoy luxuries they never previously imagined. However, the technologies that are temporarily making this world a better place to live could well prove to be an ultimate disaster due to, among other things, the creation of nuclear weapons, increasing pollution, and loss of animal species.

The biggest threat to the earth caused by modern human activity comes from the creation of nuclear weapons. Although it cannot be denied that countries have to defend themselves, the kind of weapons that some of them currently possess are far in excess of what is needed for defence. If these weapons were used, they could lead to the destruction of the entire planet.

Another harm caused by human activity to this earth is pollution. People have become reliant on modern technology, which can have adverse effects on the environment. For example, reliance on cars causes air and noise pollution. Even seemingly innocent devices, such as computers and mobile phones, use electricity, most of which is produced from coal-burning power stations, which further adds to environmental pollution. If we do not curb our direct and indirect use of fossil fuels, the harm to the environment may be catastrophic.

Animals are an important feature of this earth and the past decades have witnessed the extinction of a considerable number of animal species. This is the consequence of human encroachment on wildlife habitats, for example deforestation to expand human cities. Some may argue that such loss of species is natural and has occurred throughout earth's history. However, the current rate of species loss far exceeds normal levels, and is threatening to become a mass extinction event.

In summary, there is no doubt that current human activities such as the creation of nuclear weapons, pollution, and destruction of wildlife, are harmful to the earth. It is important for us to see not only the short-term effects of our actions, but their long-term effects as well. Otherwise, human activities will be just another step towards destruction.

Transition signals















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Below is a checklist for transition signals. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

There is good use of transition signals, without being overused (not every sentence!)
The grammar is correct (e.g. using sentence connectors to join sentences with a full-stop (period), using clause connectors to join two clauses, using other connectors correctly e.g. 'due to' + noun)
There are different types of transition signal

Next section

Find out how more about academic style in the next section.

Previous section

Go back to the previous section about cohesion.

Transitional Devices


A discussion of transition strategies and specific transitional devices.

Contributors:Ryan Weber, Karl Stolley
Last Edited: 2011-02-02 04:32:35

Transitional devices are like bridges between parts of your paper. They are cues that help the reader to interpret ideas a paper develops. Transitional devices are words or phrases that help carry a thought from one sentence to another, from one idea to another, or from one paragraph to another. And finally, transitional devices link sentences and paragraphs together smoothly so that there are no abrupt jumps or breaks between ideas.

There are several types of transitional devices, and each category leads readers to make certain connections or assumptions. Some lead readers forward and imply the building of an idea or thought, while others make readers compare ideas or draw conclusions from the preceding thoughts.

Here is a list of some common transitional devices that can be used to cue readers in a given way.

To Add:

and, again, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, nor, too, next, lastly, what's more, moreover, in addition, first (second, etc.)

To Compare:

whereas, but, yet, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, on the contrary, by comparison, where, compared to, up against, balanced against, vis a vis, but, although, conversely, meanwhile, after all, in contrast, although this may be true

To Prove:

because, for, since, for the same reason, obviously, evidently, furthermore, moreover, besides, indeed, in fact, in addition, in any case, that is

To Show Exception:

yet, still, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, of course, once in a while, sometimes

To Show Time:

immediately, thereafter, soon, after a few hours, finally, then, later, previously, formerly, first (second, etc.), next, and then

To Repeat:

in brief, as I have said, as I have noted, as has been noted

To Emphasize:

definitely, extremely, obviously, in fact, indeed, in any case, absolutely, positively, naturally, surprisingly, always, forever, perennially, eternally, never, emphatically, unquestionably, without a doubt, certainly, undeniably, without reservation

To Show Sequence:

first, second, third, and so forth. A, B, C, and so forth. next, then, following this, at this time, now, at this point, after, afterward, subsequently, finally, consequently, previously, before this, simultaneously, concurrently, thus, therefore, hence, next, and then, soon

To Give an Example:

for example, for instance, in this case, in another case, on this occasion, in this situation, take the case of, to demonstrate, to illustrate, as an illustration, to illustrate

To Summarize or Conclude:

in brief, on the whole, summing up, to conclude, in conclusion, as I have shown, as I have said, hence, therefore, accordingly, thus, as a result, consequently

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