Signposting the structure

There are various ways of highlighting the structure of a text to the reader. The use of subheadings is one method. As suggested in our section on structure within the text, it is useful to work with tentative subheadings all through the writing process as they highlight the structure and thus help writers maintain focus.

A common way of highlighting text structure, especially on paragraph or section level, is to rely on so-called transitional or linking devices.

Transitional words - linking devices

Within paragraphs as well as in between paragraphs and sections, there need to be elements that create transitions and that connect various parts of the text. Writers choose between different kinds of transitional devices depending on the type of link that they wish to make.

For information and advice regarding the use of transitional devices, see the following parts of the AWELU section on Grammar and Words:

Phrase banks

To find suitable transitional words and phrases,  phrase banks, i.e. compilations of useful words and phrases, can be helpful. Read more about phrase banks and how to use them in the AWELU section on Grammar and Words:

For further reading: Relevance of text structure (click to expand/contract)

In a chapter on "the role of text structure in reading and remembering texts" (p. 227), Meyer (1999) highlights some aspects of reading that are interesting also from a writer's perspective. For instance, what does the communicative process from writer to reader look like? What kind of reading strategies are there and how do they affect the way we write?

  • Meyer, B. J. F. (1999). The importance of text structure in everyday reading. In A. Ram & K. Moorman (Eds.), Understanding language understanding: Computational models of reading (pp. 227-252). MIT Press. [Google Book]  [Libris entry]