Overview: Your paper needs to have a strong focus. To achieve this, you need a thesis statement near the beginning, in the first paragraph or two, as well as two kinds of transitions:

  1. transitions from one point to the next. These can be called "daisy-chain" transitions that explain the logical relationships between adjacent points. They shouldn't just be "The next point is," but they should explain why the next point is next, why you put the points in this order. They are illustrated in blue in the figure below.
  2. transitions relating your points back to your thesis. These can be called "so what?" transitions that explain what contribution a point you are making has to your overall point in the paper. They are illustrated in red in the figure below.

Illustration: Focus Illustration

Example: You want to write a paper on the latest spring fashion line.

Introduction: Your thesis is that this spring, designers have used classic lines but with a Bohemian twist.

Paragraph 1:

Paragraph 2:

Paragraph 3:

Your conclusion refocuses on the whole line and ends by saying no matter how Bohemian women want to be, this season they have a range of choices with a classic underpinning.

Warning: Be careful to use this idea only as a guide, not a template. The papers you write should have their own flair and their own way of achieving focus and should not blindly imitate the example given above. It is the idea of continuing to connect your points to each other and to the main point that matters, not the simplified five-paragraph structure shown above.