Tiemersma's Simple Rules for Coherent Writing
It is important in technical writing to add transitions between
sections, paragraphs, and sentences. The following list gives some
transitional phrases and their typical uses.
and, or, nor, also, moreover, furthermore, indeed, in fact,
first, second, third, in addition.
Use to add another thought.
for instance, for example, for one thing, similarly, likewise.
Used for adding, illustrating, or expanding a point.
therefore, thus, so, and so, hence, consequently, finally, on the
whole, all in all, in other words, in short.
Used for adding up consequences, summarizing minor points to emphasize
a major point.
frequently, occasionally, in particular, in general, specifically,
especially, usually, often.
Used for adding a qualifying point or illustration.
of course, no doubt, doubtless, to be sure, granted, certainly.
Used for conceding a point to the opposition, or recognizing a point
just off the main line.
but, however, yet, on the contrary, not at all, surely, no, until.
Used for reversing or deflecting the line of thought, usually back to your
still, nevertheless, notwithstanding.
Used for returning the thought to your side after a concession.
although, though, whereas.
Used for attaching a concession.
because, since, for.
Used to connect a reason to an assertion.
if, provided, in case, unless, lest, when.
Used for qualifying and restricting a more general idea.
as if, as though, even if.
Used for glancing at tentative or hypothetical conditions that
strengthen and clarify your point.
this, that, these, those, who, whom, he, she, it, they, all of them,
few, many, most, several.
Relative and demonstrative words, like adjectives and pronouns, tie
things together, pointing back as they carry the reference ahead.
But be sure there is no mistaking the specific word to which each
One can gain coherence in writing by using the following:
filling in with thought,
filling in with specific illustrative detail,
using transitional tags (see above) that tie sentences together,
repeating words or syntactical patterns.
As a rule of thumb, 60% of all sentences should start with the subject
of that sentence.
To avoid monotony the other 40% should start with one of the
an infinitive (e.g., To begin with, ...),
adverbs, which modify a sentence (but don't use "hopefully" in this
a subordinating conjunction,
participial phrase (but make sure it modifies the right word),
words are my recording of some of the advise from the late Dr. Tiemersma,
who taught me how to write.
Copyright © 1997, by