One way of thinking about it is that paragraphs should introduce a new point without losing sight of the old one; they should bring out the relationship between the last point and the new one. Link words and phrases work in both directions, backwards and forwards.
Here are some weak paragraph ‘links’ which do not fulfil this important role:
- ‘Another point is that…’
- ‘I will now discuss the issue of X…’
Here are some paragraph links (pdf document): the last sentence of one paragraph leading on to the first sentence of the next. How are the links being made in each case?
Evaluating linking ideas
Linking words and phrases should be used throughout your essay, not just at the beginning of paragraphs, to show the direction of your argument. Linking words and phrases may:
- signal a reinforcement of ideas (e.g. in other words, for example)
- signal a development in ideas (e.g. moreover, more importantly)
- signal a change in ideas (e.g. instead, on the other hand, however, in contrast, nevertheless)
- signal a conclusion (e.g. thus, therefore, ultimately)
A warning – don’t try to use words like ‘thus’ or ‘therefore’ to suggest a connection between one idea and another where no logical connection actually exists!
Highlight the words and phrases in this example essay (.pdf file) which define the relationship between different points and/or help to guide the reader through the argument.
Are there any criticisms you would make of this writer’s approach to linking her ideas?