types of evidence to support an essay
“This means that…”
“This evidence supports the claim that…”
“This evidence supports this proposition because…”
“It’s clear then, that this argument is supported by the evidence. This is because…”
“If this evidence is true, then…”
“This interpretation clearly supports the view that…”
“This evidence suggests that…”
“The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.”
In analyzing evidence, it helps to have an idea of the different types that are out there. Then, you can classify the facts in what you are reading: pick which type(s) they belong to. Here are some of the most common types of evidence writers use to support their points:
- Numbers (for example, date and time, or any specific number or measurement: Length of a boat, number of witnesses, votes for a certain bill, score of a game, etc.)
- Statistics. Although technically just one form of number evidence, statistics are special enough to count as their own separate type of evidence, especially because they are so valuable at making evidence representative.
- Names (for example, place names, names of individuals, organizations, movements, etc.)
- Expert opinion (this refers to the use of someone elses knowledge or opinion, not that of the authorwhen the author quotes or mentions a recognized expert in the field)
- Specialized knowledge (the authors own knowledge, not common knowledge, usually acquired through some sort of formal training)
- Individual stories/examples, also known as anecdotal evidence (When the term anecdotal evidence is used, it is generally a negative or critical term suggesting that the evidence is not representative. Individual stories or examples, however, are often useful evidence.)
- Physical details (sense data)things you can see, hear, touch, smell or taste
- Dialogue (Speech of other people reported directly, exactly as spoken, usually with quotation marks [ ] around it and set off in separate paragraphs, one for each speaker. Technically this is a subset of physical detail, because it is something you can hear, but direct reporting of what people have said is important enough to be considered a separate category.)
- Documentary evidence (evidence from documents). This includes all of the following, among many others:
- Unpublished writings (early drafts of works published later; juvenile works by famous authors, etc.)
- Administrative policies, like the Washington Administrative Code
- Court decisions
- Speeches, interviews, and other statements by relevant people
REMEMBER: Discussing the significance of your evidence develops and expands your paper!
- State your claim.
- Give your evidence, remembering to relate it to the claim.
- Comment on the evidence to show how it supports the claim.
These are some examples of analogical evidence you might use in your work:
Just like in a court case, bringing in an expert opinion is a great way to add support for your writing. Their authority on the topic is frequently seen as above questioning. This is a good way to add support to your own opinions within an essay and to your thesis as a whole. You can also use testimonial evidence to support topic sentences in your paragraphs. You should always establish credibility for the expert before using that person’s opinion as supporting evidence in your essay.