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Home » Academic Writing » Essay structure » Signposting and subtitles

Signposting and subtitles

Signposting is a really useful tool to help you structure your essay and provide clarity for your reader.

Signposting can be divided into two broad categories:

Major signposts

SignpostsThese highlight key aspects of the work, such as purpose, structure, author’s opinion, main points, direction of the argument, conclusions.

Examples of major signposts:

  • The aim of this study is to…
  • The purpose of this essay is to…
  • This essay argues that…
  • There is a lot of academic literature about this issue…
  • This essay begins by… It will then go on to… Finally…
  • This paragraph will focus upon…
  • In conclusion…

Linking words and phrases or connectives

These show connections between sentences and paragraphs.

Examples of linking words and phrases:

  • Listing: firstly, secondly, finally
  • Indicating addition or similarity: also, in addition, furthermore, similarly
  • Indicating contrast: however, nevertheless, on the other hand
  • Giving a reason: for this reason, because, due to…
  • Indicating result or consequence: therefore, as a result, consequently
  • Reformulating an idea: in other words, to put it simply, that is…
  • Using examples: for example, for instance


Depending on your essay question and/or length, subtitles may be another useful signposting tool. They are a clear indication to the reader about what the following paragraphs will be focusing upon. It is worth checking that your subject discipline encourages the use of subtitles.

Be careful that you use signposting and subtitles correctly as having too many and using them incorrectly can be  confusing to the reader and may lose you marks.