Mastering Signposting in Academic Writing

Signposting is a crucial technique in academic writing. It involves using words and phrases strategically to guide your reader through your essay or dissertation. Two main types of signposting are:

1. Major Signposts: introductions, conclusions and outlining main arguments/ the direction of the argument in paragraphs/opening phrases.
2. Linking Words & Short Phrases: linking ideas, sentences and paragraphs.

Linking Words & Short Phrases

To add more ideas: again, furthermore, in addition, moreover
To compare or contrast ideas: alternatively, contrastingly, conversely, whereas
To prove something: evidently, for this reason, because, inevitably
To show exceptions: however, nevertheless, yet, in spite of
To repeat or refer back to something: as has been mentioned/noted…/As previously discussed
To show that you will include something later: this will be discussed in detail later
To emphasise something: definitely, obviously, inevitably, undeniably
To give an example: for instance, in this case, in particular, notably
To show the order of things: previously, following this, initially, subsequently, finally

See: More Detailed Guide on Linking Words

Major Signposts

Providing Structure and Direction

Major signposts are like the big signboards on a highway—they tell your reader where they're headed. These include:

In Introduction

✓ This essay will [first] outline/examine/address/argue/demonstrate/focus on … and will [then] ascertain/establish/clarify/show/judge/prove … Next, it closely examines ... in relation to ... Finally, it focuses on ... and how this affects ...
✓ To understand the role of …, this essay provides a discussion of …
✓ This essay seeks to investigate/evaluate/illustrate/discuss the impact of ... in relation to ...
✓ The aim of this study is to … / The purpose of this essay is to … /This essay argues that …
✓ The major issue that needs to be addressed is … /The main questions addressed in this paper are …
✓ This essay critically examines …
✓ This essay is organised in the following way: …
✓ The essay is divided into…main parts: part one will … part two …

Quantifying the objectives of your essay can be quite beneficial. To illustrate, you can begin by stating, "This essay will delve into three key aspects..." Subsequently, you should employ transitional words such as "Firstly, Secondly, Finally" throughout the essay to clearly indicate the progression of your points. Additionally, it's advantageous to outline how the essay will accomplish these objectives. For instance, you can mention, "By scrutinizing and evaluating various sources like literary texts, contemporary literature related to the topic, historical evidence, and statistical data, this essay aims to substantiate its argument and demonstrate..." This approach enhances the reader's understanding of your essay's structure and purpose.

In The Main Body of The Essay

Introducing New Idea
  • One aspect which illustrates … can be identified as …
  • The current debate about ... identifies an interesting viewpoint on ...
  • First(ly), … / second(ly), … / finally, …
  • The first/next/final section provides a general discussion of …

Linking or New New Idea

  • Having established ..., this essay will now/next consider …
  • Building on from the idea that ..., this section illustrates that ...
  • To further understand the role of ... this section explores the idea that ...
  • Another line of thought on ... demonstrates that ...
  • In addition to/As well as x, y must be/should be/needs to be established …
  • x is one/an important/the key issue that has to be considered. Another/A second/ of equal importance is …
  • This idea/theory had been extended/developed by….
Introducing Contrasting Idea
  • However, another angle on this debate suggests that ...
  • In contrast to evidence which presents the view that... an alternative perspective illustrates that ...
  • However, not all research shows that... Some evidence agrees that ...
  • This conflicts/contrasts with/is contrary to the view held by ..., who argues that …
Summing up a Paragraph/Section
  • The evidence highlights that …
  • It is clear that …
  • The strength of such an approach is that …
In Conclusions
  • In conclusion, … / To summarise, … / As has been shown …
  • Clearly, this essay has shown that the main factors which impact upon … are …
  • From the above, it is clear that …
  • Several conclusions emerge from this analysis …
  • The evidence presented has shown that …
  • This essay has focussed on three factors affecting …
  • It has been established that …

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