Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問
The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: I have a problem moving smoothly between paragraphs, and sometimes between sections of my papers. My friend calls it herky-jerky. My professor describes it as “uneven pacing.” How can I smooth out my papers so they flow?

An academic paper indeed should “flow,” as you say, though there are times when the flow should be interrupted, too. Formal papers aren’t casual conversations in tone or content, but they do share with chit-chat the goal of communication. I imagine your everyday conversation is not herky-jerky. When you pause in conversation, you do so because you have completed a thought. When you are in mid-thought, you link your sentences in ways that signal to your listener that you are not done talking, you are only taking a breath. Write in the same fluid way you talk.

Words and phrases, as well as punctuation, can function as transitional tools. Their purpose is to smoothly connect sentences, paragraphs, and sections. Probably the most common transitional word is “and.” A common transitional punctuation mark is the comma. Without these two aids, lists become choppy, and sequential explanations stop and start. Some transitional words—such as “although”—redirect the flow, but all transitional tools share a common goal: They introduce continuity to written thought, thereby helping a writer hold reader interest clear to the end.
字句和標點符號一樣,都有銜接的功能,能夠順暢連接句子、段落與章節。最常用的銜接詞是「和」(and),最常用的銜接符號則是逗號 (comma),沒有這些銜接方法,列舉不同事物時會支離破碎,有先後順序的說明則會顯得斷斷續續。「雖然」(although) 一類的銜接詞會轉折語氣,不過所有銜接方法都有同樣的作用,就是讓寫出的事情前後連貫,讓作者抓住讀者的興趣,直到文末。

The key in mastering transitions goes back to the overall injunction to think well before trying to write well. If you tend to prattle on in conversation, it is a reflection of your thinking. In the same way, if your thoughts are jumbled and disconnected, your writing will truly reflect it. So, first organize your thoughts, then tie the end of one sentence to the beginning of the next one using a phrase, a word, a variation in sentence structure. Incrementally build to a conclusion rather than trying to leap to one. Your readers will follow you without break if given these helpful bridges.

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