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Writing Center

When your reader says something like: Parts seemed choppy.

Readers use a word like “choppy” when they are having trouble understanding the connection from one idea to the next.

To address this problem, you need to figure out why the ideas aren’t connecting for your readers.

There are several possible causes:


People always say “add transitions” to fix choppiness. And this sometimes works, but only if the ideas that are next to each other really are related in some way. Adding the right transition can show your reader how to understand that connection.

If you decide that your ideas do belong together, this page from the Purdue online writing lab can tell you more about using transitions.


BUT if the ideas are not really connected or don’t really belong in the same paragraph, adding transitions will not help. Instead, you need to go back to the organizing step and regroup your ideas.

“Choppiness” often means a paragraph with too many ideas.

Try a “reverse outline” to see if the ideas belong together or need to be sorted into separate paragraphs. This webpage fromthe University of Wisconsin online writing center tells you how.

Main Idea

Sometimes readers might experience a paper as “choppy” if they can’t figure out the main point of your paper. They have trouble seeing the connections among the sentences because they have no central point to connect these separate ideas to. So a reader who uses the word “choppy,” may really be saying I don’t understand your main point.

If this is the case, consider going back to the prewriting phase to work on your thesis statement.

Read more about main ideas to see if this might be the problem.