As you write essays, you need to be very clear about where you are going next with your argument. Using signalling words tells the reader what you intend to do, where you have been with your argument so far and where you intend to take it next.

To get a better understanding of any of the signalling words for essay writing, you can look at the essay examples from the Oxbridge Essays website.

Essay Introduction Signals

Set out your introduction with clear phrases that show that it is the start of your essay. By using certain phrases this makes it obvious that a paragraph belongs in the introduction even if you were to remove it from the essay and put that paragraph on its own. For example:-

In this essay I will present the view…”, “In this essay I will argue that…”.

You could use “I will demonstrate…” and “I will discuss…”.

Essay writing examples – time and order

To explain the order of your thoughts within the essay, use words and phrases such as:

in the first place, lastly, previously, to begin with, finally.

Writing Tips – Contrasts

To show disagreement or an alternative viewpoint to an idea set out earlier in the essay, you might use words such as:

however, despite this, nevertheless, on the other hand, whereas.


If you are building on your argument, phrases that can be useful are:

besides, furthermore, not only that, apart from.

Essay Writing Explanation

To expand on an argument more fully, use phrases such as:

that is to say, to put it another way, to clarify, in other words.

Conclusion signals

To let your reader know your essay is coming to an end and that you are summing up your argument, use terms like:>

In conclusion, to summarize, this essay has demonstrated, as we have seen.

Learning how to put signals into your essays will serve you well if you go on to write a masters dissertation at a later date.  Have you found a good website with more advice about signalling words?  Please let us know by posting a comment below.