Chapter 10-2-2: Bridging Topic Sentences
Transition words and phrases provide an essential signpost to readers about the text's direction. However, transition words and phrases are so conspicuous that readers consciously pick up on them. A bridge is an advanced method of transitioning from an idea in one paragraph to a different idea in the paragraph that follows it. It's a clever method of transitioning because readers understand that the text is shifting from one topic to another without overtly being told. This makes using a bridge much more elegant than using a transition word.
How to Create a Bridge
A bridge between paragraphs is created when the topics for both paragraphs are mentioned either in the last sentence of the first paragraph or in the first sentence of the second paragraph.
Placing the bridge in a topic sentence
Analyze the following first three paragraphs excerpted from an essay. The essay’s thesis statement is the last sentence in the introductory paragraph. It states that “Canadian citizens would foster better respect of, and compliance with, the country’s laws if conscription were to be reintroduced today.”
Now, look closely at the topic sentence in the 2nd body paragraph. Do you see how it mentions the idea of the body paragraph that precedes it? In this topic sentence, the author tells readers that we’re leaving the concept of “discipline and order” and moving on to “sensitizing Canadians to points of law.” That’s a bridge.
Placing the bridge in the last sentence of a paragraph
Take the same essay. This time, the author placed the bridge at the end of the first body paragraph. Observe that the sentence suggests that the paragraph's topic is not the only idea supporting the thesis statement. In the sentence that follows—the next paragraph's topic sentence—the transition word "also" informs readers that the text is about to convey a new idea.
Many people may wonder which location of the bridge is more straightforward for readers. Placing the bridge in a topic sentence is more coherent than putting the bridge in the last sentence of a paragraph.