In my book Write Now: Business Writing That Gets Results (p. 99), I talk about three ways to achieve good writing: you need “paragraph unity, development, and coherence.” Paragraph unity and development are easy to understand. But the notion of coherence is a little more difficult to comprehend. Let’s look at why coherence is so important, how it differs from cohesion (another commonly used writing term), and three ways you can make a paragraph more coherent.
Why is coherence so important in business writing?
Coherence makes a text easy to read and understand. Good writers know how to communicate well through writing. To begin with, they know the purpose of the text and they know who the intended audience is. They have a sense of what questions readers may have in mind. Good writers also know how to link sentences together in a logical and orderly way.
What is the difference between coherence and cohesion?
As I mentioned above, coherence makes it easy for the reader to see the link between sentences in a paragraph or text. It creates a sense of continuity for the reader that makes the message clear.
Cohesion, on the other hand, has to do with the stylistic ways a text is linked together. Think of it as the glue that connects sentences. There are many techniques a writer can use to effectively link sentences together. For example, you can use transitional expressions such as “indeed” or “in fact” to show emphasis. Common traditional signals to indicate sequence include “first, second, followed by, next, and then, meanwhile” and so on.
There are many other useful transitional signals that good writers know how to use. You should learn them to. In another blog post I’ll talk more about other techniques for creating a cohesive text.
How do you make a paragraph more coherent?
Your goal as a good writer is to make your text logical and orderly. One simple way to do this is by using pronouns throughout the text. Note, for example, how these two sentences link together: “Coherence makes it easy for the reader to see the link between sentences in a paragraph or text. It creates a sense of continuity . . .” The pronoun "it" refers back to "coherence" and ties the two sentences together.
A second effective way to create a coherent text is by using a clear topic or main sentence. This entire blog post is built on this topic sentence appearing in the first paragraph:
“Let’s look at why coherence is so important, how it differs from cohesion (another commonly used writing term), and three ways you can make a paragraph more coherent.”
A third way to link sentences together is by contrasting items, as I did in the previous section. For example, I contrasted the meaning of coherence and cohesion, two terms that are often confused.
I trust you found this piece useful and it will assist you in being a better writer. Let me know if you want any more advice on writing coherently.