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Posted by Eric

Posted: July 25, 2017

Signposts – They’re Good for Travel and for Essays

Signposts – They’re Good for Travel and for Essays

When you take a road trip (and let’s say your smart phone has died), you have to rely on other things. Along the highway are mileage markers and other signposts that tell you how many miles to your destination and what towns, rest stops, etc. are in between.  This allows you to track your progress and to see how far you still have to go, and perhaps what towns in between you might want to stop at to take a break.

Signposts in Writing

Signposts in writingsource

You may not have heard the term and so you may not know what is a signpost in writing. In a way, a reader of your essay or paper (or any other kind of academic writing) is on a bit of a trip. They expect to follow a logical path through the points you make, and that path should be very clear. Essay signposting takes care of this. They are words or phrases that move your reader forward to the next point with no confusion. The word, “for example,” is a typical signpost. The reader now knows that you are going to further explain the point you are making by putting that little extra phrase in.

Transitions and Signposts

Sometimes, especially in the middle of a paragraph, transitional words and signposts can be the same thing. When you used the words, “first, second, third,” etc., you have used signpost writing that is actually a transition too – it tells your reader that you have finished one point and are moving onto the next. While generally, when people think about what are signposts in writing, they think in terms of words or short phrases. In fact, there can also be signpost sentences.

If, for example, you have summarized a point made by an expert, and you are moving to another expert’s opinion that differs, your signpost writing could be a whole sentence. “John Jones, however, disagrees with Mr. Smith.” There you go, and your reader gets where you are going now.

Signposting in Writing is Important

One of the things your professor wants to see is a really clear flow of what you are writing. Having transitions between paragraphs takes care of some of this, but within paragraphs, there have to be words and phrases too. Signposting in essays takes care of this.

So, Let’s Look at Some Signposting Words for Essays

The Biggies

These are full sentences or long phrases that occur when a student needs to provide a road map, usually at the beginning of an essay or a paragraph. Examples include:

  • The issues addressed in this essay are……
  • The discussion of this issue includes the following points.
  • We can conclude all of the following:

Smaller Phrases and Words

Giving a signpost in writing can be for many purposes

  1. To emphasize a point you are making: “More important, furthermore, in fact,”
  2. Getting more specific: “in terms of, in particular, to be more specific”
  3. Giving examples: “for instance, for example, such as”
  4. Introducing a comparison: “on the other hand, however, in comparison to”
  5. Voice a similarity: “likewise, also, again”
  6. To summarize: “finally, overall, in conclusion”

You can check your signposting essay writing as you review and revise your rough draft of any essay or paper you produce. In fact, you must do this. Ask yourself if you are leading your reader clearly from one point to the next. If not, fix it with some signposts.

Essay Writing – It’s Complicated

There is a lot to think about when you write an essay, and signposting is just one more thing to add to your plate in this process. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially when you are in a hurry and know you don’t have time to write and then polish an essay that is due quickly. In these situations, it is not a “blot” on your character to make use of a professional writing service. And if you need to locate one, you can check out the best essay writing service reviews that are now on a number of high quality review websites. You’ll get truthful information provided by actual customers.