The Truth About Transitions

Posted: November 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Argument or Analysis, Transitions | No Comments »

Writing—like life and music—is hardest at the transitions, so many lawyers worry about how to transition effectively. But transitioning between sections and thoughts is easier than you may think. If you follow the principle of leading from the top, your leads all function as transitions. In other words, you already know how to transition. You just don’t know that you know.

An effective opening and strong leads make the work of transitioning later in the paper much easier. If you have opened your paper by “leading from the top,” you have already primed your readers about what to look for and you can spend less time easing them between sections because they already know where you are going. Headings and lead sentences also serve as transitions because they tell the reader what to look for in the section or paragraph.

Lawyers often spend too much time transitioning, not realizing that the form of legal writing enables us to transition quickly between topics. Because our readers are trained to be familiar with the forms in which we write, transitions between topics can be more abrupt than in civilian prose.

In my next few posts, I’ll talk about some of the techniques for writing strong transitions. Stay tuned!


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