I have some not so great news for you.
Common transitional phrases are extremely boring.
Transitional phrases are really important to your writing, but the common transitional phrases that you learned in 4th grade English are much better suited to the essays you later wrote in college than to the blog posts, emails, and sales pages you will be writing today.
So, what are we going to do?
Let’s figure out what transitional phrases are first and why they are important and then we’ll see about using some that won’t make your reader’s eyelids heavy.
What Are Common Transitional Phrases?
Common transitional phrases are like hints. They make your reader curious about what you are going to say next.
In addition, they connect ideas together. They indicate a clarification. They can be used for emphasis or comparing or contrasting.
Basically, they are showing your reader how things relate to each other.
“In addition”, which I just used, is a common transitional phrase. It shows that there is more than one thing that transitional phrases can do.
“Basically”, is also a transitional phrase. It shows that I’m about to clarify something I just said previously.
When you read “in addition” or “basically” you know that I am following up in some way on the previous statement.
Because you have a curious little mind, you are going to want to continue reading so that you can find out the rest of what I’m about to say on the topic you are reading about.
And that brings us to…
(and yes, that’s another transitional phrase that you just read and now aren’t you just DYING to read the next part?)
Why Are Transitional Phrases Important to Copywriting?
One of the oldest rules in the copywriting book is that every sentence you write has the most important job of getting the reader to read the next sentence.
That is a mighty lot of pressure on all of your sentences, isn’t it?
(That’s also a transitional phrase, “isn’t it?”! It’s a rhetorical question that makes us agree on something without you really even committing to it! It’s not my favorite transitional phrase, to be honest).
When you use transitional phrases in your writing, you are giving cues to the reader to keep reading. You are helping them to engage with the words that you have written.
When I write “additionally”, you think, oh there’s more…
When I say “isn’t it?”, you are being coaxed to agree with me and understand that we see things the same way.
But wait, didn’t I start this whole thing off by saying common transitional phrases are boring?
Yes I did. And they are.
Let me ask you a question.
How many times this week have you said in a natural conversation,
I can tell you that I have said that exactly zero times in a conversation this week, this month and possibly this entire year unless I was saying it completely ironically.
It’s one of those words that is really just meant for college essay papers. You don’t see it in conversation or the conversational style of writing that you ought to be doing in your blog posts, emails and landing pages.
And the common transitional phrases you learned in school are almost all boring, like additionally.
Here are a few:
|For that reason||Hence||Thus||At length|
I would like to take a leap and tell you to just ban those words from your writing. I don’t know about you, but I just get a picture of an Ichabod Crane type English professor in my mind when I read them.
They aren’t what you are going for when you use transitional phrases.
What Are Some Examples of Transitional Phrases?
Well, if we can’t use those crappy transitional phrases, what CAN we use?
#1. You’re in my head.
Empathy is going to be a key to your business. It is going to show up all the time. When you can empathize with your reader, they will see you as the guide who has been in your shoes.
But sometimes showing your reader that you are empathetic and understand their journey because you’ve been on it, too is not that easy.
There are transitional phrases that can help.
“Ok, I know what you’re thinking…”
I use this one all the time. I use it when I have set up an idea that I know my reader is going to be resistent to. I usually follow it up with whatever it is I know they are thinking, and then
“…but hear me out.”
It’s taking their objection into consideration and then asking them to reconsider that objection.
You can also use phrases like, “We’ve all been there” and “I know the feeling”.
“I know the feeling” can be very powerful when you are talking about the negative feelings that your reader is experiencing because of their problem.
#2. A Declamatory Sentence.
Stop. Don’t read another word.
JK, those are just the examples for this new transitional phrase. Hopefully, you didn’t listen to me and you kept reading.
Actually that’s the whole point. Readers are scrollers first. You need to do something to grab their attention and get them to actually read and not skim.
I’ve actually started a post with:
It’s this one on Motivational Quotes for Entrepreneurs. I did it because anytime you write a list post like that one, you run the risk of someone scrolling and never reading what you wrote.
They are there for the list after all, so you can’t really blame them. That means you better pull out all the stops to get them to pay attention to what you have to say.
You don’t have to use “Stop”. There are lots of way to divert their attention back to you.
You can do, “Listen,…” or “Look,…” or “Check this out…”.
When you use these types of transitional words and phrases, the text becomes very engaging. It’s actually telling the reader what to do. And they usually listen.
#3. Question & Answer
I’m generally not a fan of asking questions when you’re writing unless there is absolutely zero chance of your reading going, Nah, I’m all set.
And that’s really hard to determine.
The one other time that I will ask a question is if I intend to immediately answer it.
Why would I do such a thing?
I’ll tell you why.
Suddenly we’ve stepped outside of the blog post and I’ve welcomed you into my thoughts.
There are tons of ways to do this and I think they are mostly all quite fun.
“Did you know that….?
“Yes! It’s true!”
That’s a good one because it’s like you’ve anticipated their answer and now you’re having a conversation.
You can also do the opposite and end the little exchange with a negative like, “Nope, not at all”.
#4. Escape from the intro.
First let me tell you that the introduction is my second least favorite thing to write (the conclusion is my first least favorite).
It’s never easy to write, but worse sometimes is when you’ve finished writing it and you have to transition from it into the body of the post.
Have you ever felt trapped there?
I know I have.
That’s when you need an “escape from the intro” phrase.
These are easy and I actually suggest that you find one or two that fit your personality and stick with it. It will personalize your writing somewhat.
My boss, I don’t know if it is consciously or not, but, he will use, “Let’s get it” or “Let’s dive in” when moving from the introduction to the body of his videos.
In writing, an escape transition might be, “Let’s get started”, “Let’s see if we can…”, or “Here we go”.
Do you notice a pattern with these?
They are all first person plural. Meaning, me & you. Like, we’re teaming up to go do this thing.
#5. Transition like Vizzini from The Princess Bride.
You know the poisoned wine scene from The Princess Bride? I’ll let you go read it if by some chance you don’t already know it.
It’s a fun, roller coaster piece of dialogue. It’s iconic, really.
There are ways you can get that kind of movement in your own writing. Vizzini uses “So…” a lot in that dialogue. That’s one that I tend to use a lot and possibly, I might over use it :-|.
Other options are phrases like: “In any case…”, “Or, even better…”, “Besides…” or “Nevertheless…”.
I know you are thinking Nevertheless sounds like it might belong with those other boring transitions, but I quite like Nevertheless.
“But” can also work, or “Also”, depending on what’s coming next. The idea is to find the phrase that keeps the reader carrying on to the next paragraph you have for them.
#6. Clear it up.
One of the most important things you can do as you write your copy is keep things as clear as possible.
If you you’ve just introduced a complex topic, it’s a good idea to use a transitional phrase to bring the reader forward to a simplified version.
Earlier I used “Basically…” to show you that now I’m going to try to boil this down to the simplest version possible.
I also like to use “Here’s what I mean…” usually followed by an example. You can also do, “Let’s break this down…”.
The idea is that the reader sees a phrase like that and understands that you are about to break down a concept even further.
I can tell you that I sometimes look for phrases like that when I am reading and I might feel a little confused by the text. I’m actively looking for where the writer is going to help me out.
#7. Take a breath.
There comes a point sometimes in a particularly long or complicated piece of writing when your reader needs to take a minute and kind of collect the information they have taken in.
They need to start making sense of what you’ve given them before they continue to move on
You can use transitional phrases like: “Think about this…” and maybe you sum up what you’ve just taught them with an example.
Or, I will sometimes use, “So, what does this all mean, then?”. It gives the reader a moment to start putting things into context.
It’s an excellent moment to present real life examples for your reader that back up the concepts that you are trying to explain.
Other good ones are “Now you’re probably wondering…” or “But hang on a minute…” and you can address any doubts that they may be having.
#8. And your point is…
This is actually a good follow to the “Take a breath” transition. You’ve let your reader pause and put things together and you’ve possibly offered an example.
Now is a great time to drive your point home again. The transition phrases you can use might be: “My point is…”, “Here’s the thing…”, “What this means is…”.
These are also more places where your reader can expect that you are going to bring even more clarity to your argument.
#9. Here’s comes your answer!
Your reader isn’t on your blog post to check out your cool transitional phrases, are they?
No, they are not.
They are there for an answer to a question. They are there to improve their lives in some small way. They are looking for a solution.
Let them know when yours is coming!
You can do that easily with the right transitional phrases.
I like, “Don’t worry, there’s a solution…”. Or, “Here’s the secret…”. I’ve also been known to use “The good news is…”
Maybe you’re more of a “That means…” or a “The answer may surprise you…” kind of gal.
Whatever you choose, it’s smart to give your reader a clue when the big reveal is coming up.
#10. Where am I?
By now you have begun to see that there are many ways to use transitional phrases that you hadn’t thought of before.
(That’s a transitioinal phrase! I’m showing you where you are in the process when I say, By now…).
This type of transitional phrase is great to use as a little check in with the reader. They’ve been reading through with you and they are absorbed, but are they starting to think, where am I now? Do I understand? Is this almost done?
There other ways to do this. You can use “At this point…” or “Once you’ve got that down pat…” or “Now you’re good to go…”
It’s a relief to the reader when they come across a phrase like that. Even if you aren’t indicating an ending (and you don’t have to use these phrases to do only that), they feel a little more oriented in the writing.
They see that they are moving along.
#11. Slip into the conclusion.
UGH. The conclusion is the worst part!
Nevertheless, you can use transitional phrases to make them a little easier (Not really sure that nevertheless works seamlessly there, but wanted to slip it in one more time).
Here are some other transitional phrases and then you can see the one I will try out for my conclusion to this post: “In essence…”, or “Now it’s your turn…” (I have used that one before) “In the end…”.
And the Transitional Phrase I Chose for the Conclusion…
All in all, you’ve learned a lot of fantastic transitional phrases that should help you keep your reader curious and engaged from end to end.
That might make writing more fun, too! They sure didn’t make this conclusion more fun to write, but it was at least a little easier.