I am writing an an article to share knowledge, not novel. Usually, when you change the current topic, at the beginning of the new paragraph you would like to use some transition words such as Addition, Next, etc. However, if you don't want to use those words, you need a stronger indicator to tell the readers that the topic has been changed. I think drop caps are the best for this, but I'm using a platform which only support trivial characters. You can say that I must stick to Notepad. Is there any efficient ways to not using transition words?

Respond to hildred: Thank you for taking time answering my question. To clarify, I'm not rebelling anything. I acknowledge that those rules will help me structuring the article a lot. I just want to be a little different to give the readers a new taste.

I'm not prefer the horizontal rule, since it's like splitting my article into sections, which I don't intend it to be. Saying the topic will be changed completely after I start a new paragraph is not exactly right. It's like listing the ideas with bullets, but instead one sentence per bullet, you have one paragraph per bullet. Each paragraph starts with a topic sentence.

I do aware that I should use white space, I just don't know how to use it properly. When I write a story, I usually use lines with one dot only to sign the readers to take a breath, like this:


Or this, if I want to give them more room to breath:


But I'm not writing a story, I'm writing an academic article.

Respond to what: thank you for taking time answering me. Of courses the sections are related to each other. Let's take my SOP as an example. The purpose of SOP is to tell the professors that you have quality to their research (it's like the cover letters when you apply to a job). Here are three points I want to convey in my SOP:

  • I believe that I was born for scientific research.
  • I think I have been familiar to the scientific activities.
  • I want to shift the discipline to biology after spending 4 years in physics.

Then I develop each point to a paragraph. Therefore, my whole SOP has this structure:

I believe that I was born for scientific research...

I think I have been familiar to the scientific activities...

I want to shift the discipline to biology after spending 4 years in physics...

I don't want to use the structure below, since it will fail to put the topic sentence to the beginning of the SOP, which I intend it to be:

I believe that I was born for scientific research...

Secondly, I think I have been familiar to the scientific activities...

Thirdly, I want to shift the discipline to biology after spending 4 years in physics...

Without a strong indicator, I think that this structure can confuse the readers a little bit since it change the point so quick. I understand that transition words are very strong, but I would like to find another method.

  • Hi. Please don't use posts to carry on conversations; feel free to edit your question to add information or provide clarifications, but it's best if the post reads as an integrated whole, instead of "X... response to A... edited to add B..." etc. The questions work best if the question is clear (and the answers work best as answers); for discussion, please feel free to use Writing Chat. – Monica Cellio Feb 24 '15 at 20:41

Two classical typewriter methods are White-space and the Horizontal Rule. On the other hand, verbal transitions have significant value, in that they are clearer than simple formatting. I get the impression that your main objection is the feeling that they contribute to the cliche of the format (you read one self help book, you know how they all are organized). Firstly there are lots of transition words. The list you referenced included dozens, but is nowhere near exhaustive.

Secondly, which part of the accepted style are you actually rebelling against? The rules presented in English class are often simpler than the true rule of the language, which are seldom written down, as the true rule is often only understood only intuitively. For example, in college I wrote a paper, and decided to have it proofed before turning it in. one of the things I was told was "We tell people never to use the word conclusion in the conclusion, but leave it in." The rule in the book was to never use the word conclusion in the conclusion, because it was an indicator of a bad paper. The true rule is actually something closer to talking about the structure of the paper when your paper is not about the structure of a paper does not work well and may sound cliche. Are you fighting a written rule, that feels wrong?

It has been said that you have to know the rules to be able to break them. I disagree, I believe that when you understand the true rule, not just the one that is written and taught, that you have the freedom to write like the greats. What is the true rule behind the rule you are fighting? When you know this, You will no longer feel the conflict.

  • Thank you so much for taking your time answering me. I have edited my question to respond to your answer. – Ooker Jan 28 '15 at 3:45

I don't understand this question.

When you write an article, that article will have one theme or subject. Everything that your write within that article will relate to that theme, and therefore everything that you write will somehow relate to each other. Your writing must make that connection clear, and that is the purpose of what you call "transition words".

If the different sections of your article are unrelated to each other, then they should not be part of the same article, or what you write is not an article at all, but a collection of short prose pieces. If they are related, you must make that relation clear to guide your readers, or else your writing will appear random and unstructured.

Today the weather is grey. I miss the sun, and the constant drizzle is making me sad and irritated. But what does that have to do with the rest of my answer? Nothing, of course. It is unrelated to your question and unrelated to my argument. So why do I put it here? To show you what you should not do in your writing. My ramblings about the weather have no place in this text and should go elsewhere. Or if it where related, I should introduce this paragraph with an explanation how what I write here bears on what I wrote before, so that you can follow my argument.

  • Thank you so much for taking your time answering me. I have edited my question to respond to your answer. – Ooker Jan 28 '15 at 14:53

Personally, I always use an extra carriage return between paragraphs to mark a new section. With that said, if you include an introductory paragraph that summarizes your overall structure, it will make it much easier for people to follow your transitions, even without the "listing" words. Finally, if each section feels like a complete thought, the reader will be more ready to shift to a new topic than if a previous section feels incomplete.

  • When I read the wiki about carriage return, I don't understand a word. Do you simply mean a new line? Anyway, the introductory paragraph is a very good solution, I guess. However, I'm afraid that I don't have that luxury to include an introduction in my SOP, and I don't know know to write one. I have ask about this in Academia.SE, hope to see you there. – Ooker Jan 29 '15 at 3:28
  • Sorry, carriage return is just an old-fashioned (typewriter era) name for new line. The introductory paragraph doesn't need to be long or complex --just introduce yourself, and then paraphrase your three topic sentences in order. – Chris Sunami Jan 29 '15 at 20:43

When I am writing a manual, each topic has its own headline, whether the text beneath it is a paragraph, several paragraphs, a procedure, etc.

If your subtopics can't support their own headline, then consider that they are really the same topic.

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