Tiemersma's Simple Rules for Coherent Writing

Adding Transitions

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.

  1. and, or, nor, also, moreover, furthermore, indeed, in fact, first, second, third, in addition.
  2. for instance, for example, for one thing, similarly, likewise.
  3. therefore, thus, so, and so, hence, consequently, finally, on the whole, all in all, in other words, in short.
  4. frequently, occasionally, in particular, in general, specifically, especially, usually, often.
  5. of course, no doubt, doubtless, to be sure, granted, certainly.
  6. but, however, yet, on the contrary, not at all, surely, no, until.
  7. still, nevertheless, notwithstanding.
  8. although, though, whereas.
  9. because, since, for.
  10. if, provided, in case, unless, lest, when.
  11. as if, as though, even if.
  12. this, that, these, those, who, whom, he, she, it, they, all of them, few, many, most, several.

Gaining Coherence

One can gain coherence in writing by using the following:

  1. filling in with thought,
  2. filling in with specific illustrative detail,
  3. using transitional tags (see above) that tie sentences together,
  4. repeating words or syntactical patterns.

Sentence Starts

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 following:

  1. prepositional phrase,
  2. parenthetical element,
  3. an infinitive (e.g., To begin with, ...),
  4. adverbs, which modify a sentence (but don't use "hopefully" in this way),
  5. a subordinating conjunction,
  6. participial phrase (but make sure it modifies the right word),

The above words are my recording of some of the advise from the late Dr. Tiemersma, Calvin College, who taught me how to write.

Copyright © 1997, by Goodrich.