Signal Words



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Signal Words

In order to be able to lead your reader in the direction you want to go, you will have to use strong transitions in your writing. You can do that in several ways: by using entire sentences to connect one thought to another, entire paragraphs to give more background information, or simply a word or two to indicate your intentions.

This list of signals is from The New Reading Teacher's Book of Lists, 1985 Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632. By E. Fry, D. Fountoukidis, and J. Polk.


1. Continuation Signals (Warning—there are more ideas to come):


and

also

another

again

and finally

first of all

A final reason

furthermore

in addition

last of all

moreover

likewise

more

moreover

next

one reason

other

secondly

similarly

too

with

 

 

 


 

2. Change-of-direction signals (Watch out—we’re doubling back):


although

but

conversely

despite

different from

even though

however

in contrast

instead of

in spite of

nevertheless

otherwise

the opposite

on the contrary

on the other hand

rather

still

yet

while

though

 3. Sequence signals (There is an order to these ideas): 


first, second, third

A, B, C

in the first place

for one thing

then

next

before

now


after

while

into (far into the night)

until

last

during

since

always

O’clock

on time

later

earlier

 

 

 

 

 

 4. Illustration signals (Here’s what that principle means in reality): 


for example

specifically

for instance

to illustrate

such as

much like

in the same way as

similar to

 

 

 5. Emphasis signals (This is important): 


a major development

it all boils down to

a significant factor


most of all

a primary concern

most noteworthy

key feature

more than anything else

a major event

pay particular attention to

a vital force

remember that

a central issue

should be noted

a distinctive quality

the most substantial issue

above all

the main value

especially important

the basic concept

especially relevant

the crux of the matter

especially valuable

the chief outcome

important to note

the principal item

 

 

 

 

 6. Cause, condition, or result signals (Condition or modification coming up): 


because

if


of

for

from

so

while

then

but

that

until

since

as

whether

in order that

so that

therefore

unless

yet

thus

due to

resulting from

consequently

 

 

 7. Spatial signals (Answers the “where” question): 


between

on

by

here

there

left

right

these

close to

near

this

side

middle

west

beside

east


about

north

south

around

over

under

away

in front of

across

into

behind

toward

beyond

above

below

opposite

upon

outside

upon

outside

inside

alongside

over

out

far

in

adjacent

near

next to

 8. Comparison-contrast signals (We will now compare idea A with idea B): 


and

or

also

too

best

most

either

less

less than

more than


same

better

even

then

half

much as

like

analogous to

but

different from

still

yet

however

although

opposite

rather

while

though

 

 

 9. Conclusion signals (This ends the discussion and may have special importance): 


as a result

consequently

finally

from this we see

in conclusion

in summary

hence

last of all

therefore

 

 10. Fuzz signals (Idea not exact, or author to positive and wishes to qualify a statement): 

almost


if

looks like

maybe

could

some

except

should

alleged

nearly

might

reputed

seems like

was reported

purported

sort of

probably

 

 

 

 11.           Non-word emphasis signals 


exclamation point (!)

underline

italics

bold type

subheads, like The Conclusion

indention of paragraph

graphic illustrations

numbered points (1,2,3)

very short sentence: Stop War.

“quotation marks”

 




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