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What Is a Cohesive Academic Essay?

In a cohesive essay, all the parts stick together. Readers clearly understand what you are writing about and how you get from point to point. You probably know that a good essay should include an introduction, a body and a conclusion, but once you’ve made sure those main elements are there, try revising your essay to check for cohesive markers – the glue that binds them into a unified whole.

Signposting and Structure

An essay’s introduction should include your thesis statement and main points, usually at the
end of the introductory paragraph. By stating the argument and your points, you are telling the readers what information comes next and in what order they can expect it to come. Each paragraph in your essay’s body should have a topic sentence that deals with one of your main points, and you should finish dealing with one main point before moving to the next one.


When you proceed through the argument, readers will follow your thoughts more easily if you use transitions. Transitions can signal that you are adding information to a previous thought; the terms “and,” “also,” “moreover” and “not only…but also” all perform this function. They can also indicate contrast or disagreement, as in the terms “however,” “on the other hand,” “while.” Casual transitions, such as “because,” “as a result of,” “therefore” suggest that one thing results from another. Finally, some transitions indicate sequence or order, such as “next,” “to begin with,” “eventually,” “then.”

Repeating Key Words

To tie paragraphs, sentences and even parts of sentences together, check whether or not you are using similar or the same key words. In this article’s section on “Transitions,” for example, the word “transitions” appears four times. Instead of using that key word a second, third and fourth time, the section could have used the phrases: “They can signal…,” “Casual ones…,” “some….” However, repeating the word “transitions” ensures each sentence’s subject is clear. If you find yourself using different key words that confuse readers, consider replacing some of them with the main key word that you have chosen for the paragraph.

Staying on Track

Even if it’s using strong cohesive markers, your essay might veer from its argument by including unnecessary information. When you revise, ask yourself whether all the evidence and discussion that you include is strictly relevant to the thesis statement. Perhaps one of your body paragraphs includes an interesting statistic that you have tied into the paragraph with a transition such as “also,” but the statistic is only tangentially related to the point at hand. Removing such distractions from your main argument strengthen your essay’s logical coherence and helps to convince readers of your point.

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