How To Make Your Paper Flow: Cohesion


          Hello, Marauders! If we remember from last week, we talked about how to make our paper flow by using two components called coherence and cohesion. We talked about coherence and how to achieve it (check out the post here: How to Make Your Paper Flow: Coherence). For a refresher, take a look at the terms defined below: 

        • Flow “refers to how easily a reader can get into the text. That is to say, how easily the reader moves past the text and into a reading experience where she or he [or they] is connecting with the ideas presented within the text” (Flow in Scholarly Writing). 
        • Coherence is when the reader can see that everything–ideas, evidence, argument, etc–is logically connected (The University of Auckland). 
        • Cohesion is the quality of sentences and paragraphs to “hang together” in a pleasing and clear way. 

          This week, we’ll look at cohesion and how to achieve it.

Cohesion: The Known-New Contract 

          Cohesion refers to how sentences and paragraphs connect to each other in a way that is clear and makes sense to the reader. Readers may refer to a sense of “flow” in texts with internal cohesion. When we encounter something “new,” our brains are set up to work through the new thing in terms of its relationship to what we already know. So, in a text, the reader expects the writer to make connections between the known and the new. This can be done within paragraphs and in the entire paper. 

Within paragraphs: To increase cohesion and help your reader through your paragraph, here are some things you can do to utilize the “known-new contract”:

        • All the content in your paragraph illuminates your key point/commitment sentence 
        • Repetition of key words and phrases 
        • Use of pronouns (he, she, it, they) and demonstrate adjectives (such, that, this, these, those) 
        • Use of transition words and phrase

In the piece as a whole: Your paragraphs need to “hang” together in such a way that your reader follows easily from one major “chunk” of your meaning to the next:

        • Logical progression of major ideas/chunks 
        • Transitions between chunks

To check if your paragraph has cohesion: Use a skeleton summary outline (which is a bare-bones version of your paper). For each paragraph:

        • Give a one-sentence summary 
        • Ask yourself, what job does this paragraph do? 

          This will help you to know if your paragraph does a good job of connecting ideas and thoughts in a clear way that is easy for the reader to follow and understand. 


          I hope this helps clarify what cohesion is and how to achieve it in your paper. Remember to follow the known-new contract. The goal is to connect information that readers already know to new information so it’s easier for readers to understand. As always, please feel free to visit the Writing Center for more help!