There are many types of evidence that can be used to support your position when writing an essay. A few examples are facts, statistics, anecdotes, quotations, and personal experiences. For example, if you are writing about the benefits of reading regularly for pleasure, you would include a fact related to this claim as evidence (e.g., “A recent study of third graders found that students who were regular readers scored higher in reading achievement than less frequent readers.”).
6 different types of evidence in writing
In this article we will discuss 6 types of evidence in writing essays, research papers, or any other academic writing task. These types of evidence include:
- Anecdotal evidence
- Statistical evidence
- Testimonial evidence
- Textual evidence
- Analogical evidence
- Logical evidence
We will now discuss each kind of evidence in details below:
Anecdotes are examples or stories about individual experiences. They are often used in the form of a “lesson learned” to illustrate a general claim made in the essay. For example, if you were writing about the benefits of reading regularly for pleasure, you might include an anecdote that shows how regular readers are able to pick up on literary devices that the author used, which will help them in high school English class.
Anecdotal evidence is also useful in countering a common misconception. If you are writing an essay on the benefits of exercise, then you might want to counter the misbelief that exercising is bad for your health by including anecdotal evidence from people who have improved their health through regular exercise.
Statistics are used to provide numerical support for claims. While they can be very useful in supporting general claims, it is important to remember that no statistic is 100% accurate. For example, you might include statistics about how many children die each year because their parent did not buckle them into a car seat. If you are writing an argumentative essay on the need for car seats for children under 5 years of age, it would be a good idea to include a statistic about the number of deaths each year caused by children not being buckled in.
Statistical evidence can also be used to counter misconceptions. If you are writing an argumentative essay on the benefits of getting enough rest, you might want to cite statistics that show how many accidents have been caused by drowsy drivers. You can also use statistics to show how often people make mistakes when they don’t get enough rest, which will help illustrate your point.
Testimonials are a way of presenting a claim as you heard it from someone else. They should be used carefully because their credibility depends entirely upon the credibility of the person you are quoting. For example, if you were writing about how effective Alcoholics Anonymous is at helping alcoholics deal with their addiction, it would be wise to include a quote from someone who was able to get sober through this program.
Testimonial evidence can also be used in a position paper on a social or political issue that you feel passionately about. For example, you might use a quote from a former drug addict to show why the government needs to legalize marijuana.
Personal experiences are very similar to anecdotes, but they differ in that personal experiences tend to be written in first person and use the pronoun “I,” while anecdotes tend to be third-person and do not always use the pronoun “I.” For example, if you were writing about how reading regularly helped you get into college, your piece may include your personal experience of how you were able to get help from your English teacher when you became stuck on an essay.
This type of evidence comes from within the text of your paper and can include direct quotations or paraphrases of certain passages in the writing you are using as evidence. For example, let’s say you wanted to show how the author of a writing was criticizing someone by using a paraphrase. In this case, you would not want to use words from outside sources because these words do not provide the same impact as the original words used in your paper.
Textual evidence is most often used in argumentative essay or persuasive essays. For example, if you are writing an essay about the dangers of global warming, you might use a quotation from a scientist explaining what can happen if certain trends continue.
Quotations are often used when it may be difficult to find supporting evidence for your claim. For instance, if you were writing about the benefits of reading regularly for pleasure, it may be easier to use a quotation from an author who talks about how they discovered that knowing grammar was helpful when they read Shakespeare’s plays or Jane Austen’s novels than to provide statistics or facts directly related to the topic.
Analogies are comparisons between two things that share many common traits or characteristics. They often use the word “like” or “as” when making the comparison.
Analogical evidence is useful in many essays because it can help the reader make sense of complicated ideas or concepts. For example, if you are writing an essay about how colds and flu are caused by viruses, you might use a comparison between these illnesses and a computer virus to illustrate your point. You can also use analogies to explain scientific concepts, such as using the idea of a zipper down the middle of DNA to show how DNA replicates itself.
This is the type of evidence that comes from having a sound and reasonable argument. It is based on facts and presents an argument in a logical order without relying too heavily on emotion or assumption. For example, let’s say you wanted to make the argument that the United States should build a new library in your town. You might want to include logical evidence and reasoning such as: citizens would benefit from visiting the library more often; students who use the library do better in school; libraries help promote literacy, etc.
When using evidence from outside sources in writing, it is a good idea to include a footnote or endnote. This can let the reader know where you got your information and will help them determine its credibility. In most cases, the works cited page will tell you what type of source you are using and how to cite it properly.
Evidence types to avoid when writing academic papers
Some examples of evidence types that should generally be avoided (or used with caution):
- opinions (e.g., “I know reading is important because everyone knows people who love to read are geniuses.”)
- moral judgements (e.g., “Stealing is wrong”)
- the opinions of others, unless it is in the form of a quotation (e.g., “Everyone thinks that reading regularly leads to academic success.”)
- opinions presented as facts (e.g.,”I know reading is important because reading helps you get into college.”)
- pet peeves (e.g., “I hate when authors include too much description, it makes me want to read the book less.”)
- facts not directly related to your claim (e.g., “A recent study of third graders found that students who were regular readers scored higher in reading achievement than less frequent readers.”
- emotional language (e.g., “Reading is wonderful, everyone should do it more often.”)
Additional information about types of evidence in writing:
- Information listed as “facts” may be true, but they must also be relevant to the topic you are addressing within your essay. Using too many facts can actually distract from your own argument and weaken your paper.
- If you are writing about an opinion, make sure to provide examples of how others may agree or disagree with this opinion (e.g., if you claim “people who read books regularly tend to get better grades in school,” be sure to include counter-examples to show that people who read books do not always get better grades in school).
- Avoid using words that evoke emotional responses if you are trying to provide facts, such as “terrible,” “mysterious,” “painful.”
- Facts should be supported by evidence found within your own reading or research. For example, if you are writing about the benefits of reading for pleasure, be sure to provide evidence from at least two books or articles that substantiate your claim.
- Personal experiences or testimonies can be very powerful within writing; however, if you are using them as the main source of evidence, they may lack objectivity. For example, it would be difficult to say anything negative about someone else’s personal experience of reading, while someone may be critical of the same evidence if it came in the form of an anecdote.
- Moral judgements can often come across as subjective and therefore not credible; however, they can be more persuasive if you provide rational arguments about why your morals lead to a certain claim or point-of-view.
- Statistics should be used with caution, as these can often been seen as biased. When writing about statistics, it is crucial to describe where the numbers came from and how they were tested in order to help the reader decide whether or not your evidence is credible.
Examples of Ineffective evidence in writing
What are some examples of ineffective evidence? What makes them ineffective? How could they be improved?
“I know reading is important because everyone knows people who love to read are geniuses.”
This statement is presented as a fact, but it lacks credibility because the reader cannot verify this information on their own. In order to improve this evidence, you could include another piece of evidence from someone who says that reading regularly has made them a more intelligent person.
“I hate when authors include too much description, it makes me want to read the book less.”
This is an opinion stated as a fact, so it lacks credibility by being subjective. In order to improve this evidence, you could include how other readers feel about the amount of description in a book. Perhaps many readers do not mind detailed descriptions, but would actually prefer to have more rather than less. You could also include evidence from the author’s own perspective about why certain things are included within the book, or interview readers who have different opinions on descriptive writing.
“A recent study of third graders found that students who were regular readers scored higher in reading achievement than less frequent readers.”
This evidence is presented as a fact, but it lacks credibility because the reader cannot verify this information on their own. In order to improve this evidence, you could include another piece of evidence from similar studies about reading and/or how previous research has concluded that reading leads to better academic achievement.
“I read all the time, and I always get A’s on my work.”
This is not effective evidence because it is a personal experience. It lacks objectivity, so the reader may not find this credible. In order to improve this evidence, you could include another piece of evidence from someone who says that reading regularly has made them a better student.
“It hurts when people say reading is a waste of time, so I think there should be more opportunities for everyone to read.”
This is not effective evidence because it evokes emotion. It lacks objectivity, so the reader may not find this credible. In order to improve this evidence, you could include another piece of evidence from someone who has been affected by negative comments towards reading, such as a student who has been bullied for being a bookworm.
“People should read more because it is good for their brains.”
This evidence is presented as a fact, but it lacks credibility because the reader cannot verify this information on their own. In order to improve this evidence, you could include another piece of evidence from someone who has done research about the benefits of reading for brains.
“There are more than one million books published each year, meaning there is no excuse not to have any free time.”
This evidence is presented as a fact, but it lacks credibility because the reader cannot verify this information on their own. In order to improve this evidence, you could include another piece of evidence from someone who has done research about how many books are published every year. You could also include evidence that there is a variety of other activities available for people to participate in, such as museums and sports.
Now you know that there are are 6 types of evidence in writing: Anecdotal evidence, Statistical evidence, Testimonial evidence, Textual evidence, Analogical evidence, amd Logical evidence.
- Personal Anecdotes in University Classes – JSTOR
- Examples of Anecdotes
- Evidence – The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Using Evidence: Writing Guides
- USING EVIDENCE IN AN ACADEMIC ESSAY
- How Do I Effectively Integrate Textual Evidence? | U-M LSA Sweetland Center for Writing
- CU1022 Academic writing with Style: Using evidence in writing
- Types of Evidence in Academic Arguments – English 102
- Research and Evidence – Purdue OWL