This article proposes a novel framework for representing and measuring local coherence. Central to this approach is the entity-grid representation of discourse, which captures patterns of entity distribution in a text. The algorithm introduced in the article automatically abstracts a text into a set of entity transition sequences and records distributional, syntactic, and referential information about discourse entities. We re-conceptualize coherence assessment as a learning task and show that our entity-based representation is well-suited for ranking-based generation and text classification tasks. Using the proposed representation, we achieve good performance on text ordering, summary coherence evaluation, and readability assessment.