Making links between paragraphs

It is important to provide links in your writing. When writing your sentences, try to link up one sentence with another. In the same way, when writing your paragraphs, try to link up one paragraph with another. This can take two forms: ending a paragraph with a sentence that leads forward to the next paragraph or starting the new paragraph in a way that links back to the previous paragraph.

Look at the passages above (Beauty, A basic truth, Marangu) and find the sentences that provide links with any subsequent paragraphs. When you've done that, look at the notes below.

Notes:

In these paragraphs, the last line of each paragraph leads into the following paragraph.

However, for me, beauty does not reside in music alone. (And my next paragraph will develop this idea and explain what else exemplifies beauty for me.)

However, despite the prevalence of these attitudes, change is on the way. (And in my next paragraph I will outline about these changes.)

It brings back some striking memories. (And in my next paragraph, I will describe some of about these memories.)

One further way of making links between paragraphs is to repeat certain key words and phrases, or near equivalents, in closely related paragraphs. This ensures a strong feeling of continuity from one idea to the next. In the example below, the key words and phrases have been circled and then linked with lines to show the connections that exist between one paragraph and the preceding and following paragraphs. Notice how the writer provides the reader with links, making it easier to follow the train of the argument.

The doctors of the law, those who developed and preserved the consensus of the community, were the nearest equivalent to a teaching authority in Sunni Islam, and it was essential for them to make sure that the understanding of fiqh and of its bases was fully transmitted from one generation to another.

From an early time there seems to have been a formal procedure for the transmission of religious learning. In mosques, and especially in the large congregational ones, circles of students would group themselves around a teacher sitting against a pillar and expounding a subject through reading and commentating upon a book. From at least the eleventh century, however, there grew up a kind of institution devoted largely to legal learning, the madrasa: its origin is often ascribed to Nizam al-Mulk, the wazir of the first Saljuq ruler of Baghdad, but in fact goes back to an earlier time. The madrasa was a school, often although not always attached to a mosque; it included a place of residence for students. It was established as a waqf by an individual donor; this gave it an endowment and ensured its permanence, since property of which the income was devoted to a pious or charitable purpose could not be alienated.

Some institutions were established for the teaching of the Koran or Hadith, but the main purpose of most of them was the study and teaching of fiqh. To take an example: the Tankiziyya madrasa in Jerusalem, endowed during the Mamluk period, had four halls, opening off a central courtyard, one each for the teaching of Hadith, Hanafi law and Sufism, while the fourth was a mosque.

Signposting

'Signposts' are found in good academic essays and they will also help the reader to understand the writing more easily. They help to link what has already been said with what is about to be discussed.

Some of the words that we have already considered can be used as signposts. For example consequently, however, similarly, moreover, in contrast and so on. Look at the example above; the signpost words are shown in bold. In addition to these words, we can also use expressions like these:

  • This programme ...
  • Despite these difficulties ...
  • These suggestions ...
  • However, in the modern world ...
  • In the next section, ...

In each case we are making reference to a point already mentioned, or we are indicating that we about to consider something new. For example, our signposts can look backwards at a point already raised:

  • This suggestion ...
  • These ideas ...
  • This brief outline suggests ...
  • Such proposals ...

Similarly, our signposts can look forwards towards issues that will be raised in the next section or in the near future:

  • In this section, I will ...
  • My next chapter will consider why ...
  • A recent study suggests ...
  • One important recent finding indicates that ...
  • Some signposts look in both directions at the same time!
  • Despite these reports, other writers have proposed ...
  • In spite of these findings, teachers believe ...
  • This view has been rejected by some authors who claim that ...
  • In contrast, a recent article ...

Task

Look at these passages and underline any 'signposts'. Do they look forwards, backwards or in both directions?

Passage A:

Despite this difficulty, many theories have been proposed to explain these results, but the evidence has proved to be elusive. However, this does not mean that the theories can be discounted. The following chapter will explore the evidence in more detail.

Passage B:

In the last chapter, we examined the link between foreign direct investment and social development. In this chapter, I would like to explore the differences between this form of investment and local investment. The first section will consider the factors that encourage and discourage local investment. These factors will then be analysed in the light of recent developments in China.

Passage C:

Are these theories supported by data? The evidence, unfortunately, is inconclusive. Despite exhaustive studies, no positive identification has ever been made. This has proved to be the most difficult problem of all. However, quite recently, a new method of collecting the data has been proposed. This method relies on sub-sectional analysis, which has not been adopted before. This form of analysis has some interesting features. Firstly, ...

Notes on the Task

Passage A:

Despite this difficulty [this looks backwards] many theories have been proposed to explain these results, [this looks backwards] but the evidence has proved to be elusive.

However, this does not mean... - this looks backwards.

...that the theories can be discounted.

The following chapter will explore the evidence in more detail. – this looks forwards.

Passage B:

In the last chapter, we examined [this looks backwards] the link between foreign direct investment and social development. In this chapter, I would like to explore [this looks forwards] the differences between this form of investment and local investment. The first section will consider [ this looks forwards] the factors that encourage and discourage local investment. These factors will then be analysed [this looks forwards] in the light of recent developments in China.

Passage C:

Are these theories supported by data? [this looks backwards] The evidence, unfortunately, is inconclusive. Despite exhaustive studies, no positive identification has ever been made. This has proved [this points backwards] to be the most difficult problem of all. However, quite recently, a new method of collecting the data has been proposed. This method [this looks backwards] relies on sub-sectional analysis which has not been adopted before. This form of analysis has some interesting features. [this looks forwards] Firstly, ...


 

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