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Writing academically: Signposting

“Do not expect your reader to make the connections in your ideas ... make those connections explicit”

Andy Gillet, Angela Hammond and Mary Martala, Successful Academic Writing

Signposting words and phrases are essential elements of academic writing - they make your writing flow. By making explicit how points are connected to each other you make it easier for your reader to follow your arguments. The reader is, after all, your marker and you don't want to make their job too hard. This page gives you a selection of common phrases that you can use to link together your paragraphs and so make logical connections between your ideas.


Student holding sign saying "Here's a new idea"

Signposts to introduce something new

One aspect which illustrates … can be identified as …

The current debate about … illustrates/identifies/highlights …

With regard to…/ with respect to…

Initially/secondly/finally, …


student holding sign saying "...and there's more"

Continuing an argument with a related point

Furthermore …

To further understand the role of …

In addition …

Similarly …

Likewise …

What is more …

Moreover …

Another issue regarding … is …

Another line of thought on … is …


Student holding magnifying glass thinking "focus"

Going into more detail on a point/rephrasing

In particular …

Specifically …

Concentrating on …

By focusing on … in more detail, it is possible to …

To be more precise …

In other words …

To put simply … /To simplify, ...


Stident holding two signs saying "Here's a good point" and "& here's another"

Linking to a different point 

Having established …, it is possible to consider …

… is one key issue; another of equal/ similar importance/significance is …

Also of importance is the issue of …


Student holding sign saying "I want to look at this some more"

Reintroducing a topic

As discussed/explained earlier, …

The earlier discussion on … can be developed further here, …

As stated previously, …

As noted above, …


Student holding two signs saying "Some think this" and "Others disagree"

Introducing an opposing/alternative view

However, …

Conversely, …

In contrast, …

Alternatively, …

Nevertheless/Nonetheless, …

An alternative perspective is given by … who suggests/argues that …

Despite this, …

This conflicts with the view held by …


Student holding a sign saying "Am I persuading you?"

Reasoning/summarising the point

Consequently/As a consequence, …

Accordingly, …

Therefore, …

What this means/suggests is...

It could be concluded that …

The strength of such an approach is that …

For this reason …

Evidently*, …

Clearly/It is clear that, …*

Naturally*, …

It is clear that* …

In short …

From this, it can be concluded/inferred/suggested that …

The evidence highlights that …

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*Only use such phrases if you really are sure that your arguments cannot be challenged.


These are just a selection of the phrases you can you to make your writing flow and to keep the reader with you and following your line of argument. Academics often complain about a lack of this in assignments they mark so make sure you use them in your writing.

Take care

Don't overdo it. Only use signposts when they add clarity to your work. Some students try to put a signposting word into every sentence which can actually obscure meaning.

 

Be precise. The signposting words have very specific meanings. Only use a word like 'consequently' if you really mean that the following sentence is a true consequence of the previous one!