Making the text readable
Creating flow in a text
Creating flow in a text
An important part of writing a text is creating flow and coherence. A text that has a good flow is easy to read and follow.
There are two different ways of coherence. First off, we must make sure that the whole text works as one overall text (big picture), but the paragraphs and sentences must also include their very own overall (small picture).
In the big picture you must make sure that:
- There is a obvious connection between the topic question, results, and conclusion
- All parts of the text are relevant and presented in logical order
- Language and format are used consistently
In the small picture it is important that:
- Each paragraph has a specific topic, that is also a part of the topic sentence
- Paragraphs are in logical order
- Sentences and paragraphs are bound by various transition words and topic connections.
To make your text logical and easy to follow. This is often referred to as coherence or writing coherently.
Structure, headings, and topic sentences
There are several things required for a text to have a good flow. See our sides on:
Language and format
When trying to make a text coherent, it is a good idea to be aware of how you use language and how you format. Firstly, it is important to be consistent when it comes to style. For formatting, this may include being consistent in your choice of font and font size, as well as being consistent when it comes to subheadings formatting. Use the settings for headings in your writing program if you are using it.
Language-wise you should be consistent in your voice and tone; avoid going back and forth between being very formal and very informal. You should also be consistent in your terminology. Terms should be clearly defined, and you should avoid switching between different words or terms that describe the same thing. Remember to check your verb tenses so you do not use past, present and the future all within the same paragraph. NTNU has ordnett.no subscription, which is a collection of dictionaries that can help you use a good and precise language.
Binding words and sentences together
You can use different transition words to get a logical coherence in the text, in a paragraph or between sentences. These words signal how sentences connect. Look at this example, where the transition words are in italics:
- Julie is scared of dogs, therefore she only owns cats.
- Julie is scared of dogs, however she owns a dalmatian.
In the first sentence, the transition word therefore signals a causality between the two statements. In the second example, the transition word however signals an opposition between the two statements.
In addition to using transition words, we also use references to achieve coherence. By referring to something, you can avoid boring the reader with information they already know or repeating yourself.
There are some words in the text that can help binding sentences, paragraphs, and various parts of the text together. The most frequently used words used are transition words and citations.
Transition words (sometimes also called transitions, conjunctions, or connectors) are words that are used to relate phrases, sentences, or paragraphs to each other. Transition words help the reader understand what you are saying, because they signal the relationship between various statements, and make the connections between various parts of the text appear more logical.
Transition words can signal
- additional information (e.g., and, furthermore, moreover and in addition)
- examples or elaboration (e.g., to illustrate, specifically, for example and to elaborate)
- comparison (e.g., similarly, likewise and also)
- contrast (e.g., on the other hand, however, yet, and still)
- summing up or concluding (e.g., in conclusion, in short, in other words, to sum up and overall)
- time or chronology (e.g., finally, further, previously, and earlier)
- a logical relationship (e.g., therefore, consequently, thus, as a result and since)
Other examples of transition words
|Text binding archive|
|Additional information||And, so on, by the way, etc.|
|Contrast||But, even if, therefor, despite, instead of|
|Time or chronology||When, within, before, after, later, sooner, by that time|
|Results, cause, connection||Because, then, so that, if, because of, such that|
|Enumerative||First of all, for the second, the most important is, by other word|
References and repetitions
Referencing can mean both referring to other, external texts, and referring to other parts of the text. Referencing other texts is useful because you can present information without going too much into details, while supporting what you are saying with references, all at the same time. Referencing your own text, for example by saying “as mentioned earlier” or “this will be reviewed in details in the chapter” is also useful.
Such references make the text easier to read because you are reminding the reader of what has already been said, or ensuring the reader that more information is coming, instead of repeating the information several times. In addition to making the text easier to read, it is also less frustrating for the reader, that does not have to read the same information repeatedly.
Please note that in this case, the term referencing refers to casually referring to information, and not citations and formal references to literature. Referring to other texts is necessary to support what you are saying, and useful because you can present information without having to go into too much detail.
Referring to your own text, for example by writing “as previously mentioned” or “this will be covered in chapter…”, is also quite useful. These references to your own text make it easier to read, because you remind the reader of something you have already mentioned, or assure the reader that more information is coming, instead of repeating the same things over and over. In addition to making the text easier to read, references like these also make your text less frustrating to read, because the reader does not have to read the same information several times.