Signposting Language In Essays Do You Write

Signposting Language

Signposting language is the words and phrases that people use in order to guide the listener coherently through what is being said.

It is used to make clear what has just happened, and what is going to happen next.

So in other words, it acts as a guide so the listener can follow what you are saying.

Why is this important for IELTS?

In section 4 of the listening you have to listen to a talk in an academic setting, such as a university.

It is usually a lecture by a professor, a presentation by a student, or a talk by a university staff member. So it is possible that signposting will be used within this.

This lesson is designed to help you with Section 4 IELTS listenings that are a lecture, though the language for a presentation or talk may be the same or similar.

If you know the type of language that is used to guide you, it will help you to follow the lecture.

This is particuarly important if your listening skills are weaker than they should be because you will easily get lost if you don't know where you are.

Also, the lecture may be split into two parts (see for example the section 4 of this lecture).

It may be the case that these two sections follow the sections that the speaker divides their talk into i.e. two parts. Knowing then the lecture structure and the language the speaker uses to tell you they are moving onto the second section will help you to follow where you are.

The signposting language we'll look at in this lesson is the words and phrases that introduce the topics and subsections of the lecture.

Examples of Lecture Signposting Language

This table sets out some of the key language that guides you on the overall topic and content of the lecture, and when different sections of the lecture are being discussed.

The table includes the signposting language to signal the end of the talk. However you are every unlikly to hear this used in IELTS because as section 4 of the listening is only around 4-5 minutes, you only usually hear the first part of the lecture or presentation.

Remember there are lots of different ways to say these things, so what you hear could be phrased slightly differently.


Signposting Examples

PurposeSignpost Language
Introducing the topic of the lecture
  • Today we are going to talk about…
  • The topic of today’s lecture is…
  • This morning we are going to take a look at…
  • Today I’ll be talking about / discussing...
  • What I’m going to be talking about today is…
  • The purpose of today’s lecture is…
  • The subject/topic of my talk is ...
Explaining the lecture structure (sections / subtopics)
  • In today’s lecture I’m going to cover three points.
  • I’m going to divide this talk into three parts.
  • First we’ll look at….. Then we’ll go on to … And finally I’ll…
Introducing the first section / subtopic  or first of a list of points
  • Let’s start by talking about...
  • To begin,…
  • Firstly,…
  • I’ll start with,…
  • The first advantage / reason / cause etc. is...
Finishing a section
  • We've looked at...
  • I’ve talked about….
Starting a new section
  • Let’s move on to…
  • Now, let’s turn to…
  • And I’d now like to talk about…
  • The next / second …
  • I'd like now to discuss...
  • The next issue/topic/area I’d like to focus on …

To signal the end of the talk / Summing up

  • To sum up, …
  • So it is clear from what we have discussed today that…
  • I'd like now to recap...
  • Let's summarise briefly what we've looked at... 
  • In conclusion, …
  • To summarise, …
  • In summary, …
  • Overall, …
  • The three main points are … 



Have a listen to the start of this lecture. What is the signposting language used?

So you need to listen and identify the phrases or words you here such as "What I’m going to be talking about today is…", "I’m going to divide this talk into three parts", "To begin,..." etc.

Write it in the box below.


Practice One

1. Phrase or word used to Introduce the topic:

2. Phrase or word used to introduce the first section:


Show / Hide Answer


1. Tonight I'm going to talk to you about that remarkable continent, Antarctica.

2. First, some facts and figures.


Practice Two


1. Phrase or word used to Introduce the topic:

2. Phrase or word used to explain the lecture strucure:


Show / Hide Answer


1. I have been asked to talk to you today about the urban landscape.

2. There are two major areas that I will focus on in my talk.


Practice Three


1. Phrase or word used to Introduce the topic:

2 & 3. Two phrases or words used to explain the lecture strucure:


Show / Hide Answer


1. And this morning we're continuing with a look at life in the area called the East End.

2. I'll start with a brief history of the district

3. and then focus on life in the first half of the 20th century.


Home › IELTS Lessons › Signposting Language


As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, linking and sequencing your ideas in Writing Task 2 is crucial to scoring high in the assessment criterion of Coherence and Cohesion. You may have some great points to make but if they are presented in a disjointed way, it makes it difficult for the examiner to follow your line of argument. Your ideas should be presented logically in paragraphs and you should use signposting language to guide your reader.

What do I mean by ‘signposting’ language? Well, the words and phrases used to signal the connections between your ideas. For instance, when you want to introduce an example, you might choose the phrase I’ve just used: ‘for instance’. When you want to make a comparison, you might begin your sentence with a word like ‘similarly’. Used throughout your essay, they help to make your ideas obvious to your reader.

In this week’s post, I will give you a range of functions for which we need signposting language as well as examples of each. Then next week, I will give you a text, a model Task 2 essay, where you will have to identify and/or add the signposting language yourself.

So, here are some instances of when you should use linking and sequencing words and phrases in your Task 2 essay.

Introducing an example:

  • For instance
  • For example
  • In this case
  • In particular
  • Notably

Providing extra information:

  • In addition
  • Moreover
  • Also
  • Not only…but..
  • What is more
  • Furthermore
  • Again

Suggesting a result:

  • In consequence
  • Therefore
  • As a result

To prove something:

  • Evidently
  • For this reason
  • Due to this
  • Because of this
  • Inevitably

Introducing a contrast/show an exception:

  • However
  • Whereas (one thing…),
  • Nevertheless
  • In contrast
  • Despite this,…
  • Even though
  • Alternatively
  • Conversely
  • On the one hand…; on the other hand…

To emphasise something:

  • Definitely
  • Obviously
  • Inevitably
  • Undeniably

To order your ideas:

  • Firstly
  • In the first instance
  • In general
  • Secondly
  • Finally

To finish your essay

  • In conclusion
  • To summarise
  • To conclude

Do you know of any others? Can you add them to the list? From now on, whenever you read any IELTS essays during your exam preparation, make a note of the signposting language and how and why it is used. Learn some phrases by heart and make a point of including one example in each paragraph of your essay(s). Remember to check back next week for some practice activities.

You may also want to read:

Filed Under: Writing Task 2

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