is sometimes called cohesion
even though some would claim that the two terms denote phenomena that are obviously related, but clearly different. We use coherence
to cover both the extent to which a text hangs together, as it were, and the various linguistic and structural means of achieving this coherence.
In a coherent text, there are logical links between the words, sentences, and paragraphs of the text. The term comes from the Latin verb co-haerere
, which means 'to stick together' (OED). Another way to describe coherence is to say that it has to do with good and smooth text flow. A writer must maximise understanding of a text by making it as clear and logical as possible.
Coherence can be achieved in a number of ways. Oshima & Hogue (2006) suggest the following four:
- Repeating key nouns
- Using consistent pronouns
- Using transition signals to link ideas
- Arranging your ideas in logical order
Starting with the last point, for the reason that it is a paramount aspect, any academic text will be incomprehensible unless the ideas expressed in it are arranged in some sort of logical fashion.
There are several different kinds of logical order
, but some of the more frequently used are chronology
, and contrast
, firstly, has to do with time, and in terms of logic, events are ordered in a sequence. Secondly, importance
means that ideas are discussed in a sequence which implies either a increasing or decreasing order of importance. Thirdly, contrast
has to do with ordering ideas by contrasting or comparing them.
The last but one point - transition signals
(sometimes called linking words
or linking adverbials
) - has to do with the use of specific words and phrases that evoke links and transition between ideas.
As was emphasised above, there is no substitute for ordering the various ideas and parts of a text in a logical way. However, even when this is done in a satisfactory manner, there is often a need to strengthen the organisational pattern of a text passage by inserting logical markers.
There is a multitude of words and phrases like these, and they can be grouped in different classes based on the function they serve. The link below will take you to a list of different transitional and linking words.