Signposting

Signposts can be used to link your ideas between sentences and paragraphs and within sentences. Signposts that link ideas within a sentence are usually called conjunctions.

They are most useful when used in the following places:

  • In the introduction
  • At the beginning of a paragraph which develops a new idea
  • At the beginning of a paragraph which expands on a previous idea
  • At the beginning of a paragraph which offers a contrasting viewpoint
  • At the end of a paragraph to sum up an idea
  • In the conclusion

Table 1 and 2 present some of the functions of signposts in a sentence.

It is not practical to list all the signpost words, so we will focus on those that are most commonly used.

If you would like to print the tables on this page, click on the PDF link below.

Table 1 Signposts usually found at the beginning of the sentence

FunctionSignpost
Introduce a new subjectRegarding
With regard to
As regards
Concerning
Turning to
Sequence ideasFirstly
The most important reason
Another reason
Finally
Introduce a contrasting ideaHowever
In contrast
On the other hand
Nevertheless
Although
Yet
Introduce a similar ideaLikewise
Similarly
Add another ideaAlso
Moreover
Furthermore
In addition
Besides
Give an exampleFor example
For instance
Give the causeBecause of
Due to
Give the effectTherefore
As a result
As a consequence
Consequently
For this reason
Conclude your essayIn conclusion
To sum up
In summary

Table 2 Signposts usually found within a sentence (conjunctions)

FunctionSignpost
Introduce a contrasting ideaCities are polluted, but/while/whereas the countryside is not.
Give an exampleUrbanisation causes a lot of pollution such as air, noise and water pollution.
Add another idea.Air pollution is caused by smoke from factories and/as well as cars.
Air pollution is caused by smoke from factories too/also.
Give the causeCities are polluted because/as there is so much smoke.
Give the effectThere is a lot of smoke in cities so/so that they become polluted.

This is the table consisting of all the most common connective devices used in IELTS writing and speaking.

Using connective words to signpost:-

Addition                       Sequence                        Consequence

in addition                      firstly                                as a result

and                                initially                              thus

similarly                         secondly                           so

likewise                         to begin with                     therefore

as well as                       then                                  consequently

besides                          next                                  it follows that

furthermore                    earlier/later                       thereby

also                                after this/that                    eventually

moreover                       following this/that              then

and then                         afterwards                        in that case

too                                                                          admittedly

not only…but

even

besides this/that

Certainty                 Condition                        Definition

obviously                        if                                      is

certainly                         unless                             refers to

plainly                           whether                           means

of course                        provided that                    that is

undoubtedly                  for                                   consists of

                                      so that

                                      whether

                                      depending on

Example                        Reason                           Time

for instance                     since                               before

one example                   as                                    since

for example                     so                                    as

just as                             because (of)                    until

in particular                     due to                              meanwhile

such as                            owing to                          at the moment

namely                            the reason why                 when

to illustrate                       in other words                 whenever

                                       leads to                            as soon as

                                       cause                               just as

Contrast                        Summary

however                          in conclusion

on the other hand            in summary

despite                            lastly

in spite of                        finally

though                            to sum up

but                                  to conclude

on the contrary                to recapitulate

otherwise                        in short

yet

instead of

rather

whereas

nonetheless

compared with

alternatively

nevertheless

A signpost does not always need to be connective word; sometime we can use phrases too.

Signposting stems for an introduction
To understand the role of … (your topic*) this essay aims to provide a discussion of … (the ideas you will develop)
This essay seeks to investigate/evaluate/illustrate/discuss the impact of … (your topic) in relation to … (the ideas you will develop)
Firstly, this assignment examines … (your topic) and its links with … (your first idea) Next, it closely examines … in relation to … (your next idea) Finally, it focuses on … and how this affects …(your next idea)
Signposting stems for a paragraph which introduces or develops a new idea
One aspect which illustrates … (your topic) can be identified as … (the idea you want to develop)
The current debate about … (your topic) identifies an interesting viewpoint on …(the idea you want to develop)
This first/next/ final section provides a general discussion of …(the idea you want to develop)
Signposting stems for a paragraph which expands upon a previous idea
Building on from the idea that … (mention previous idea), this section illustrates that … (introduce your new idea).
To further understand the role of …(your topic or your previous idea) this section explores the idea that … (introduce your new idea)
Another line of thought on … (your topic or your previous idea) demonstrates that … (introduce your new idea)
Signposting stems for a paragraph which offers a contrasting view
However, another angle on this debate suggests that … (introduce your contrasting idea)
In contrast to evidence which presents the view that … (mention your previous idea) an alternative perspective illustrates that … (introduce your contrasting idea)
However, not all research shows that … (mention your previous idea). Some evidence agrees that … (introduce your contrasting idea)
Signposting stems to sum up an idea in a paragraph
This evidence highlights that … (sum up your idea)
There is general agreement that … (sum up your idea)
The strength of such an approach is that …(sum up your idea)
Signposting stems for a conclusion
Clearly, this essay has shown that the main factors which impact upon … (your topic) are …(summarise your main ideas)
The evidence presented in this assignment has shown that … (mention the conclusions you have drawn)
To conclude, this assignment has addressed a number of significant issues which show that … (mention the conclusions you have drawn)