As a reader of quite a few essays and term papers, I notice that writers often struggle with organization. What I have usually found is that their organization is pretty good; each paragraph has a main idea and the paragraphs follow logically, but two key elements are missing. These elements are topic and transition sentences and can even be added to essays after they are written. Using topic and transition sentences is an easy way to infuse both organization and cohesion (aka flow) into essays.
Topic sentences belong at the beginning of each body paragraph and highlight the main idea of the paragraph and how that idea relates to the thesis of the essay. I think it’s important to be really explicit in this sentence so the reader is not left to question the logical flow of ideas. However, it’s also vital to be creative and interesting so the reader is eager to keep reading.
Transition sentences are the last sentence of every paragraph and serve to sum up the paragraph and hook or connect into the ideas coming in the next paragraph. If in an article review, the first paragraph is illustrating a strength in the article, the transition sentence could show the reader that this is not the only strength of the article, more are coming.
Writers may feel like they’re being repetitive in doing this, but readers don’t know the topic as well as the writer, so the restatement or clarification really is helpful for the reader. And a happy and unconfused reader is usually a happy marker! (wink wink ;))
Here's a short sample essay that has colour coded the thesis and topic sentences so readers can easily see how these sentences look and function in an essay.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
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