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This paper proposes a new method of controller design for damping inter-area oscillations in power system. The concepts of the mode controllability index and mode observability index are introduced into the modal analysis at the operating point in damping controller design. The controller is located according to mode controllability index, and the input signals of controller are selected according to mode observability index. Then a method is presented to obtain the optimal global signals combination under the constraints of the amount of signals. The parameters tuning of the controller is based on phase compensation information. The proposed schemes are validated by eigenvalue analysis of a two-area system. Simulations results also demonstrate the advantage of designed damping controller.