Writing with your reader and mind is essential to making your writing more effective. And by that, I mean you should structure your post in a way that’s most conducive to your reader’s experience. Using transitions is essential to crafting a clear piece of writing that readers will understand in a cinch. That’s why, in this post, we’ll teach you how to write a transition sentence.
But wait, what is a transition sentence?
Well, a transition sentence elucidates how two main ideas are related to one another. While the relationship between two concepts may be clear to you, it may not be to your reader. By including a transition sentence, you spell out that relationship, meaning your reader doesn’t have to do any guesswork. And that means heightened understanding and a better reading experience.
Where Do I Put a Transition Sentence?
Technically speaking, you can put a transition sentence anywhere. But that’s probably not very helpful.
The simplest way to think about it is this: You should put a transition sentence at the beginning or end of each section in your post.
Let’s expand on that a little more.
When you organize your post into sections, you’re basically grouping paragraphs by main idea. So, it follows that you should use a transition sentence when you switch between ideas.
In fact, any time you introduce a new idea, you need to introduce that idea with a topic sentence (which is called that because it names the new topic that is to follow). These topic sentences help the reader follow the logic of your ideas. That’s why it’s so important to know how to write an transition sentence!
Now, without further ado, we share six models that you can tailor to your transition sentence needs.
The “But First” Sentence
The “But First” model is ideal to use early on in your post. We see it pretty commonly after the introduction.
Why does the “But First” model work so well in the first section after your introduction, you ask?
Well, in your introduction, you should include a paragraph describing what the reader should expect from the post. We call this an “In This Post” paragraph, and it usually appears at the very end of the introduction.
It’s that placement at the end of the introduction that makes the “But First” model successful. You’ve given the reader a preview of the topics your post will cover—they’re rearing to go. Then, moving into the next section, you subvert their expectations and say, “But before we get into X, let’s talk about Y.”
Here are some examples from our authors:
How Is Data Integrity Different From Data Security?
Before I answer this question, let me clarify one thing first. People usually mean data confidentiality when they talk about data security. Both confidentiality and integrity play a key part in data security. They look similar, but they have different purposes. —Author Janos Zold
Why Do You Need Release Management?
To understand why software organizations need release management, we must first define what we mean by “release” in the context of this post.
—Author Carlos Schults
The “But First” model is a solid transition sentence that brings your reader’s focus back to the basics before you get deep into the weeds of your post.
The “Now That” Sentence
Now that you understand how the “But First” model works, let’s talk about the “Now That” model. Do I need to explain how this model works further?
Here are some examples:
How to Adopt the Agile Methodology
Now that you understand why agile is becoming increasingly important, it’s time to figure out how to get agile off the ground at your organization. —Author Justin Reynolds
Create Your First Dashboard
Now that your database is connected, you are ready to create your first dashboard! —Author Peter Grainger
Also, remember that you’re not tied to the language “now that.” Check out this example that uses the same idea as the “Now That” model but presents it differently:
Cake PHP Logging: How to Configure
Having dived deeper into the nature and purpose of logging, it’s now time to get practical again. —Author Carlos Schults
Use the “Now That” model at any point in your post. The benefit is that it gives the reader a sense of movement and helps them feel like they’re making progress, which motivates them to keep reading.
The “Not Only, But Also” Sentence
Another transition sentence you can use is the “Not Only, But Also” model. This model has a “but wait, there’s more” feel to it that will excite your reader.
Here are examples from our authors:
Automated testing provides better insights than manual testing when some tests fail. Automated software testing not only gives insights into the application but also shows you the memory contents, data tables, file contents, and other internal program states. —Author Michiel Mulders
Endpoint devices are usually the starting point of the majority of data breaches. Not only are they a threat to users, but they also pose great hazards to companies as well. —Author Arnab Roy Chowdhury
Use the “Not Only, But Also” model to transition between two different aspects of the same topic. You can use it to show value, as our authors did here, or at the beginning of a section, where the “not only” refers to what was discussed in the previous section, and the “but also” introduces the topic of the new section.
The “If, Then” Sentence
You know all about computer logic! Now apply that “if, then” model to your writing.
Like the “Not Only, But Also” model, an “If, Then” transition sentence has the benefit of relying on previously presented information to help transition your reader into a new topic.
Here’s an example by one of our authors:
Does your development team spend too much time waiting on their test suite to run? Do they constantly rerun the test suite after failing tests because “rerunning magically fixes it”? If your developers have these problems, there’s a good chance their test suite doesn’t follow the test automation pyramid. —Author JT Wheeler
Also, don’t be afraid to spice up your “If, Then” sentences with an analogy. Here’s a fun example from one of our authors:
If software development were an animal, it’d be a dramatically different one than the normal biological beasts that exist in the world. While the latter evolve over the course of thousands or millions of years, the former changes almost daily. —Author Carlos Schults
The Truism Sentence
This model is pretty fluid. Your truism might be a quote from a role model, a statement that’s true within your industry, or it might be a statement that’s most applicable to your post.
For example, our author here uses a general truism:
Installing and Monitoring Security Software
Prevention is better than cure! That goes for data security as well. —Author Omkar Hiremath
And in this example, our author uses an industry-specific truism:
Ready to Gain Deeper Insight Into Your DevOps Workflows?
Whether your DevOps toolchain looks like the one we’ve illustrated above or not, one thing remains true: You need transparency in your tools to reach your full potential. —Author Eric Boersma
The Thwarted Truism
But you don’t have to stop at a normal truism because, well, not all truisms are true, are they? In this example, our author presents a truism, but he then thwarts it with a caveat:
Improving the Deployment Process
As we said, DevOps culture believes that increased throughput does not affect the application’s reliability. This is true only if the engineers put in the effort to ensure the deployment process is effective. —Author Lou Bichard
By overturning his previous truism statement with the caveat that it’s only true under certain conditions, Lou shifts the reader’s focus to the importance of those certain conditions. This can be a much more powerful statement than simply saying “Your engineers must put in effort to ensure the deployment process is effective.”
The “It’s Complicated” Truism
Our last subset of the “Truism” model is the “It’s Complicated” truism. This model is great for preparing the reader for a more nuanced discussion of a particular subject.
Take this example:
MTBF vs. MTTF
People often mix “mean time to failure” with “mean time between failures.” And to be fair, people who think these two are the same are almost right. —Author Carlos Schults
Similar to the “Thwarted Truism,” this model overturns a preconceived understanding. Carlos’s language “almost right” informs the reader that more information coming while simultaneously making them curious about in what way those almost right people are wrong.
The benefit of using one of these truism models is dual: Not only do you introduce your next topic, but you also reiterate something meaningful in a memorable way for your reader to take away from the post.
The Question Sentence
Are none of our other models addressing your specific needs? Try the “Question” transition sentence.
This model is pretty straightforward. Look at the section you’re writing the transition sentence for. Figure out what the main ideas in the section are, then reverse engineer one of them into a question. Plop that question right at the start of your section, and voila! Your transition sentence is done, just like that.
Here’s an example:
Test and Monitor the Tools
Now that we’ve got all this automation, what else can further our journey? Metrics! —Author Sylvia Fronczak
Note here that you can combine the models we’ve provided as well. Above, Sylvia combined the “Question” transition sentence with our second model, the “Now That” sentence.
Why Transition Sentences Matter
Now that we’ve given you some models for how to write transition sentences (see that “Now That” transition?), you might be wondering if you really need to use transition sentences in your post. And the answer is yes. Here’s why.
Maybe you’ve heard of this thing called the curse of knowledge. Basically, it means that when you write something, your existing knowledge on a subject may cause you to think what you’ve written is perfectly clear. But for a reader who doesn’t share that knowledge, there are gaps in the writing that they are unable to fill. This applies to both content and organization.
When it comes to organization, actively incorporating transition sentences will help you and your reader.
For example, if you struggle to write a transition sentence that logically connects two sections, that’s a sign that maybe those sections shouldn’t follow one another. It’s a cue to reevaluate how you’re presenting information so that it makes the most sense for someone who isn’t you.
And for your reader, transition sentences are a lifeline that keep them from getting lost while they’re working to understand the complex topic you’re explaining.
Models Galore, and There’s Still More
In this post, we discussed all things transition sentences: what they are, why you need them, and where to put them. We also gave you six models for how to write a transition sentence.
There are many more models on how to write a transition sentence out there, but unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for this post. Still, I hope the examples we shared here will be sufficient to get you started on (and carry your reader through) your next writing project.