Ensuring Coherence & Cohesion in a Text

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Cohesion in writing is key to ensuring that your work flows properly and can be easily understood by others. There are several steps to make sure your work is cohesive and coherent, which are covered in this lesson.

Introduction

When trying to write a paper it is key to make sure it flows properly and has a similar story, which is called cohesion. The cohesion will lead to the ability to understand the key points of the paper and will create a proper coherence, binding all the ideas together into one overarching theme. There are any ways to achieve cohesion, whether it is in the planning stages, editing, or in word choice. All of them should be addressed to ensure the statements in the paper aren't muddied by unnecessary ideas or words.

Outlines

A good start to addressing the flow of a paper is to lay out an outline prior to beginning the paper. Start with the Introduction, then move on to the first idea, then the second and so on, while ending with the conclusion. Things to remember:

  • Introduction - Summarize what the paper will be about as a whole, without giving everything away.
  • First Idea - This should be the second paragraph and should start with the first idea of the paper.
  • Second Idea - This paragraph should tie into the previous idea, have it's own point, then move onto the reason why you will be discussing the third idea.
  • Third Idea - This paragraph should reflect on the previous ideas, while still addressing the new.
  • Conclusion - This paragraph should summarize everything in the paper while also asserting your thoughts and tying in all the ideas together in a pretty bow.

When creating your outline, you can do this in a bullet format so you have a framework for your paper, just remember to reference it as you write your paper so that you will know that the flow is correct.

If you were writing a paper on the Prohibition Era, you could lay out the paper outline like this as an example:

  • Introduction - Prohibition Era summary
  • First Idea - Why the States started to prohibit alcohol
  • Second Idea - World War I and its effect on prohibition
  • Third Idea - The breakdown of Prohibition, why and when
  • Conclusion - Summary of Prohibition, tying of all their thoughts together, and opinions on what happened

Look Back and Forward

When creating cohesion, make sure to look forward in your paper but also look back. Much like when driving, you want to look ahead but check in your rearview mirror, a paper is the same. Say you are writing a paper on the Holocaust, you would want to originate your paper discussing Hitler and his history, why he came to hate the Jewish people, then move onto his steps in creating Jewish ghettos, the concentration camps, but also make sure to reflect on your previous idea to show the cause and effect in your thoughts.

You can also do this by writing sentences in each new paragraph that remind the reader what you said previous. These little notes in your paper will tie in previous thoughts with new ones, and create cohesion and coherence.

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