Making Transitions

Comments (20)

Making Transitions

By: Robert F. Abbott

Ever notice how smoothly some speakers or writers move you through their speech or memo? It seems they effortlessly take you from start to finish without making you strain to follow.

Yet, while the reading may be effortless, the writing probably took some extra work and attention to detail. In fact, some writers would say you should work as hard on the transitions between ideas as you do on the ideas themselves.

Consider copywriting guru Joe Sugarman, who says the job of each piece of copy, from the headline down, is to get you to read the next paragraph. And the paragraph after that. And to keep on reading them until you get to the 'offer,' where you're asked to order the featured product.

To get readers from one paragraph to the next, or from one idea to the next, we use transitions, words or phrases that 'pull' the reader along, or in the case of speeches, pull the listener along.

For examples, take a look at the opening words to the second, third, and fourth paragraphs above. The second paragraph opens with 'Yet,' which implies that the idea you read in the first paragraph wasn't complete. It should 'pull' you into the second paragraph. You'll notice that the third and fourth paragraphs also aim to pull you along.

Later, we'll look at ways of constructing transitions, but for now let's focus on their strategic use.

First, and touching on an idea we explored above, transitions help ensure that readers or listeners get the complete message. For readers, in particular, it means they're less likely to stop after reading the headline, subject line, or first paragraph.

Granted, you still need good content that compels to some degree. But, whatever the content, your chances of getting the reader to go all the way to the end of the document, or the 'offer,' increases significantly with effective transitions.

Second, smooth transactions allow the reader or the person listening to your speech to concentrate on the message, rather than its delivery.

You know from experience how hard it is to take in the message when each new paragraph seems to abruptly introduce a new idea. It's a bit like driving along a street and having to stop for red lights at many successive intersections.

Third, and this relates to the second point, you'll become a stronger writer if you use transitions. Not just because of the transitions, but because their use forces you to manage the ideas in your document or speech.

The process of starting each new paragraph with a transitional word or phrase can't help but lead to you to link the idea in that paragraph to the preceding paragraph.

That's true even when you make a major shift, because in that case you'd use a transition signal of some kind. Remember "And now for something completely different," made famous by Monty Python's Flying Circus?

In summary (another transitional signal), transitions from one paragraph to another, or from one idea to another, make our communication more effective.

About The Author

Robert F. Abbott writes and publishes Abbott's Communication Letter. Each week subscribers receive, at no charge, a new communication tip that helps them lead or manage more effectively. Click here for more information:


Samuel Branson 01.10.2011. 13:57

What is a good program for making film transitions? I'm editing skateboarding clips to make a full length video, and I'm looking for a good program for making transitions; things like film burns. Just a program that you can create an area of transparency, that when put into, ie sony vegas, will also be transparent in the video. Like a way to overlay an image, or short wmv. (no more than 1 or 2 seconds) and have the video visible around the focus.

Samuel Branson

Admin 01.10.2011. 13:57

Sapphire Edge has 350+ Effects that might help...It works with Sony Vegas and FCP...You can download a free trial of Sapphire Edge for Sony Vegas here:

They also have free trials on all their other products (Sapphire, Monsters GT and particleIllusion) here:


Ludo 27.04.2012. 21:34

Can Engineers make transitions to other engineering disciplines? Can Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, and Chemical Engineers make transitions into each others fields.


Admin 27.04.2012. 21:34

Certainly, it depends on the individual and their interests and the degree to which them might transition.

I know a chemical engineer who is an expert in all aspects of mechanical engineering. I also know an electrical engineer who is an expert in pumps, compressors, turbines and other rotating equipment as well as piping, heat exchangers and pressure vessels.

I degree is in mechanical engineering but my company trained me in chemical engineering. I am not an expert but I understand all of the basics and can design heat exchangers, fractional columns, certain processes and do heat and material balances for those processes.


Patsy K 05.12.2009. 22:50

How to make better transitions between scenes in writing a story? I have to write a story, but I recall one of my biggest errors was my immediate and repetitive uses of words such as "then" to make transitions.

Is there a more practical way which more renown or published writers are familiar with? Maybe general rules that i should be aware of?

Any other tips on writing a 12 page story are welcomed. Thank you!

Patsy K

Admin 05.12.2009. 22:50

Well maybe you could substitute some words for the word 'then'. Like 'All of a sudden' or 'a while later' or 'some time after that' or 'afterwards'.

Or else instead of saying 'then' you could start a new paragraph and just carry on with the story normally. Because then people will realise that its a new paragraph so the amount of time between the two paragraphs could be a matter of minutes or a few hours later.

Hope this helps!


BagelKing 23.06.2010. 02:16

How do you make good transitions in FL Studios? I'm still learning how to use FL Studios and I can't seem to figure out how to make transitions from part to part can anyone help me learn how to make some.


Admin 23.06.2010. 02:16

sometimes using a simple Bass pattern works. Maybe "Fry" which is kind of a favorite for me lol


Camo H 27.04.2009. 07:02

Tips for sitting trot and riding transitions from walk to trot, trot to canter and back down again? Hi, just working on some things and was wondering if anyone has some tips for sitting trot and making transitions smoother and easier. I'm having some trouble relaxing my seat and especially going back to a trot from a canter. Any help would be great. Thanks
what parts of my body should I be relaxing the most in for sitting trot? as obviously I shouldn't just go limp?

Camo H

Admin 27.04.2009. 07:02

The only information I can offer, that nobody else had said, is to not let the horse run into the canter, or run into the trot. when your doing the down transition, you should have complete control over when your horse takes the first trot step. when your in control of when it happeneds, you don't bounce around and you will find your seat much more relaxed.
as for the sitting trot, bareback, bareback, bareback. work in a roundpen where you will have the ability to focus on your seat, and not your direction. try stretching your leg down, expecially if you feel like your falling off. The biggest mistake I made was pulling my feet up. It was a complete reaction, but not the correct thing to do.

I hope my experiance helps you out. Good luck.


Ant 01.12.2012. 20:37

How do "in-school" friends make the transition to "out-of-school" friends? I'm 21 and a junior in college. In school, I have many friends. We talk about almost anything in school. We laugh, we have fun, we "click." However, when I leave school, the fun and the laughter leaves also. When I get home, my life consists of bed, computer and TV. Aside from school, there's pretty much nothing else to my life. It's boring and I feel like life is just passing by while I'm doing nothing. It's pretty depressing. I don't go out that much and I don't party at all, so I feel if I want to invite them somewhere, I would have nowhere to invite them to. Outside of school I don't have that many friends. "Friends" that I've known for years don't call unless they want something, not to hang out or anything. My mom thinks I don't have any friends at all.

Outside of school, we don't talk that much. The occasional text or call is usually about something that's school related.

How do "in-school" friends make transition to "out-of-school" friends?


Admin 01.12.2012. 20:37

next time you are together(at school) ask the girls what they do for entertainment. when they all say what they do , suggest you all get together away from school to do whatever is most common in the group. or if they express interest in doing one of the others interests, ask if you can all get together as a group.


George 25.06.2013. 20:59

What's the difference between making a movie/ slide show with PowerPoint and a video software? For instance if you had say final cut pro ( I know you can only use on mac) and you wanted to make a video from some images you would put the images together and make transitions. So why couldn't you just go on PowerPoint and fill each slide up with the images and make each transition really short so it looks like a movie?
I'm just a little bit curious


Admin 25.06.2013. 20:59

You can do exactly what you suggested, and then in PowerPoint use the Save As Movie feature.

However, when it comes to movie editing, Final Cut has many more features than PowerPoint does.


Dims 26.01.2008. 18:22

How to make movie from individual frames in MS movie maker? Is it possible to make move of individual frames in Movie Maker?

I have a set of JPEGs which are frames, taken with camera. How to concatenate them?

I need not to replace each picture with short continious video and to make transitions between them (default behavior). I need to make each picture durate precise 1/25 second (if we have 25 fps video).



Admin 26.01.2008. 18:22

yes, you can just cut the video on the timeline and add the image between them.

its easy


Jiggy 21.06.2012. 02:10

Do you have any tips on making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker? My coach is making me switch back to OLB since we're fielding a 3-4 next season...What things should I know in order to make this transition easier? Any tips? Thank you!

Also, are my lifts good for a soon to be junior next year?

Squat: 380
Deadlift: 415
40: 4.9
Mile: 6:45
Bench: 200

Which of these should I improve to helpe become a better olb?


Admin 21.06.2012. 02:10

I would suggest getting with some of the other players that have played the position.. There are probably some good tutorials at YouTube that can help you as well.. Your position coach will assist you in the transition also.. Good luck....


Crystal 11.04.2008. 17:35

When an electron makes a transition from its first quantum level to ground level, the energy difference is car When an electron makes a transition from its first quantum level to ground level, the energy difference is carried by the emitted photon. In comparison, how much energy is needed to return an electron at ground level to the first quantum level?


Admin 11.04.2008. 17:35

The energy required to excite an electron from one energy level to a higher energy level is the same as the energy released when an electron transitions from that higher energy level to the lower one.

In this case, the energy needed to promote the electron from the ground state to the first excited state is the same as the energy of the photon emitted when the electron "falls" from that excited state to the ground state.


Write a comment

* = required field





* Yes No