Back to the Basics: Why Using Transition Words is Critical in Proposal Writing


In proposal writing, the goal is to convince the customer that your solution provides the greatest benefits through clear and concise narratives.

However, because of limited resources and time, we often find ourselves rushing to piece together content from various sources (e.g., boilerplate content, past proposals, notes from SMEs). Then you get to Pink or Red team, and the reviewers provide unsurprising feedback:
  • The writing doesn’t flow well
  • The section seems choppy
  • The writing is disjointed

The problem?

You probably didn’t go back and add the necessary transition words. Transition words serve to establish logical connections between the sentences, paragraphs, and sections of the proposal.

Effective transitions enable the themes, strength statements, important features, and customer benefits to flow together. Transitions should occur at a variety of places in the response to form cohesive paragraphs and sections.

The main types of transitions include:
  • Additive
  • Adversative
  • Causal
  • Sequential

Additive. You should use additive transitions when you want to show that the current point is an addition to the previous one. Examples of additive transitions include:

And
Or
Further
Moreover
Alternatively
As well
On the other hand
Either
Too
Nor
Not only…., but also…
In fact
In addition
Actually
Neither
Additionally

Adversative.
You should use adversative transitions when you want to signal conflict, contradiction, concession, or dismissal. Examples of adversative transitions include:

But
However
Whereas
Conversely
At least
Nevertheless
Though
Whichever
Either way
In either case
In contrast
While
Even more
Above all
Nonetheless
Although
Still
Yet

Causal. You should use causal transitions when you want to show how a circumstance or event was caused by other factors. Causal transitions make it easier for the evaluator to follow the logic of the major points you make in the proposal. Examples of causal transitions include:

Accordingly
And so
For this reason
So
Thus
In the event that
With this in mind
That being the case
As a result
Consequently
Then
Therefore
Because
Under those circumstances

Sequential. You should use sequential transitions when you want to express a numerical sequence, continuation, conclusion, digression, or summation. Examples of sequential transitions include:


First (Second, Third, etc.)
Beginning with
Secondly
Next
Afterward
After this/that
As stated previously
So
Starting with
Initially
Subsequently
Before
To conclude with
Finally
In short
Thus

Final Thoughts
Sometimes we need to save time by piecing together information from various resources. However, once we pull our sections together, we need to go back and make sure we are using transition words to connect our ideas together and ensure the sections flow properly. Without these critical transitions, our writing will be choppy and disjointed. So before your next color team review, go back and review your drafts, and make sure you are including these critical transition words. This easy step will help your sections to flow so much more smoothly!


Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)
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