What does Coherence mean? Why is it important?Coherence means that the writing follows a logical progression, which is another way to say that it's easy for the reader to follow.
There are some typical logical patterns that make sense naturally, such as ordering information chronologically. Let's look at an example. I've included three sentences below about my day. How would you order them? Why?
- At noon, I ate lunch.
- At 6am, I woke up.
- I went to bed at nine.
Did you order them from earliest to latest (6am to bed) or latest to earliest (bed to 6am). This is listing the information chronologically or reverse chronologically, and either one is an example of coherence. Why did you put them in that order? Because it logically made sense.
Let's look at coherence some more and discover how to write our own academic paragraphs with strong coherence.
Unity, Topic Sentences, and Concluding Sentences -- A reminderIn a previous post, we discussed the idea of unity in Academic Writing. Today, we're going to discover what makes strong coherence in an academic paragraph.
Here is the next sentence:
- Did you guess it would be an illustration (example)?
Which sentence comes next? And after that? And after that?
Slaves even used songs like “Steal Away to Jesus (at midnight)” to announce to other slaves the time and place of secret, forbidden meetings.
Careful listeners heard this second meaning in the following lyrics: “I don’t expect to stay / Much longer here. / Run to Jesus, shun the danger. / I don’t expect to stay.”
When slaves sang this song, they could have been speaking of their departure from this life and their arrival in heaven; however, they also could have been describing their plans to leave the South and run, not to Jesus, but to the North.
What whites heard as merely spiritual songs, slaves discerned as detailed messages.
Concluding sentence in the paragraph: The hidden meanings in spirituals allowed slaves to sing what they could not say.
The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for allowing me to use their model paragraph.