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6.2: Types of Support

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    Types of Support

    Figure: from Amazon AWS.

    The types of support you develop and include in an essay will depend on what you are writing and why you are writing. For example, if you’re attempting to persuade your audience to take a particular position you might rely on facts, statistics, and concrete examples, rather than personal opinions. If you are writing an essay based on your observations, you might rely on those observations along with examples and reasons. If you are writing a research essay, you might include more quotations, reasons, and facts. Realize, though, that all types of support are usable in all types of essays, and that you often will have many or all of these types of support within one paragraph. The types of support, depending on the purpose of your essay, can include one or more of the following:

    • Reasons
      • Example: The refusal of the baby boom generation to retire is contributing to the current lack of available jobs.
    • Facts
      • Example: Many families now rely on older relatives to support them financially.
    • Statistics
      • Example: Nearly 10 percent of adults are currently unemployed in the United States.(citation would be included here)
    • Quotations
      • Example: “We will not allow this situation to continue,” stated Senator Johns (citation would be included here).
    • Examples
      • Example: Last year, Bill was asked to retire at the age of fifty-five.
    • Personal Observations
      • Example: I have known other workers at my current workplace who have been indirectly dismissed through changes in job duties and other tactics that are directed at making them want to retire, or at least leave their current position.
    • Interviews
      • Example: In an interview accessed online, Bill Gates expressed his optimism that privacy and government access of information will be balanced – that it’s not an either/or situation.

    Here’s an example of one body paragraph that uses many types of support:

    (Topic sentence) There are numerous advantages to owning a hybrid car. (Supporting sentence 1: statistic) First, they get 20 percent to 35 percent more miles to the gallon than a fuel-efficient gas-powered vehicle. (Supporting sentence 2: fact) Second, they produce very few emissions during low speed city driving. (Supporting sentence 3: reason) Because they do not require gas, hybrid cars reduce dependency on fossil fuels, which helps lower prices at the pump. (Supporting sentence 4: example) Alex bought a hybrid car two years ago and has been extremely impressed with its performance. (Supporting sentence 5: quotation) “It’s the cheapest car I’ve ever had,” she said. “The running costs are far lower than previous gas powered vehicles I’ve owned.” (Concluding sentence) Given the low running costs and environmental benefits of owning a hybrid car, it is likely that many more people will follow Alex’s example in the near future.

    Although it’s really useful to understand that there are different types of support, realize that as writers develop support, they don’t necessarily think in terms of “I need a fact here” or “I need an observation there.” It’s often best to simply write your ideas down in the first stage of developing your support. Conscious consideration of different types of support occurs as you continue to work with and review your support, in terms of your writing purpose and audience.

    For example, a research essay that offers only statistics and facts may become boring to your audience if not interspersed with your own interpretations and observations and reasons. A personal observation essay may not get your thesis point across to your audience well if it doesn’t include multiple, specific examples. Draft your support first, and then go back to the draft to develop it further, the second time with your purpose, audience, and types of support more consciously in mind.

    Remember that a worthy argument is backed by examples. In order to construct a valid argument, good writers conduct lots of background research and take careful notes. They also talk to people knowledgeable about the topic in order to understand it better, before writing about it.

    Finding the Right Kind of Support

    To find information for your supporting sentences, you might consider using one of the following sources. Most of these can probably be found in your school's library.

    • Reference book
    • Encyclopedia
    • Website
    • Biography/autobiography
    • Map
    • Dictionary
    • Credibly newspaper/magazine
    • Interview
    • Survey
    • Previous experience
    • Personal research

    To read more about sources and research, see Section 10.4, "Strategies for Gathering Information," and Section 10.5, "Evaluating and Working with Sources."


    When searching for information on the Internet, remember that some websites are more reliable than others. websites ending in .gov or .edu are generally more reliable than websites ending in .com or .org. Wikis and blogs are not generally reliable sources of information because they are subject to inaccuracies and bias.

    Identify the Characteristics of Good Primary Support

    In order to fulfill the requirements of good primary support, the information you choose must meet the following standards: It should,

    • Be specific. The main points you make about your thesis and the examples you use to expand on those points need to be specific. Use specific examples to provide the evidence and to build upon your general ideas. Examples give your reader something narrow to focus on, and if used properly, they leave little doubt about your claim. General examples, convey the necessary information, and are not nearly as compelling or useful in writing because they are too obvious and typical.
    • Be relevant to the thesis. Primary support is considered strong when it relates directly to the thesis. Primary support should show, explain, or prove your main argument without delving into irrelevant details. When faced with lots of information that could be used to prove your thesis, you may want to include it all in your body paragraphs. But effective writers resist the temptation to lose focus. Choose your examples wisely by making sure they directly connect to your thesis.
    • Be detailed. Remember that your thesis, while specific, should not be very detailed. Develop the discussion and detail in the body paragraphs. Using detailed support shows readers that you have considered all the facts and chosen only the most precise details to enhance your point of view.


    You can consult a vast pool of resources to gather support for your stance. Citing relevant information from reliable sources ensures that your reader will take you seriously and consider your assertions. Use any of the following sources for your essay: newspapers or news organization websites, magazines, encyclopedias, and scholarly journals ( periodicals that address topics in a specialized field).

    This brief video reinforces the idea of how support develops and is presented in an essay.

    Video \(\PageIndex{1}\)
    Supporting Details. Authored by: Mastering the Fundamentals of College Reading and Writing. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube license.

    Exercise 1 \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Below you are provided with an audience, purpose, and a topic sentence you want to support. Write down what types of support you would use in this situation to convince your audience.

    Audience: A friend

    Purpose: Convince them to wear a mask when you go out for a hike together.

    Topic Sentence: Masks are key to prevent the spread of COVID 19.

    Specific types of support:

    Collaboration: Compare your answers with a classmate.

    Exercise 2\(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Below you are provided with an audience, purpose, and a topic sentence you want to support. Write down what types of support you would use in this situation to convince your audience.

    Audience: Your manager

    Purpose: Convince them to let you take time off during finals.

    Topic Sentence: If I can't get extra time off, I may not be able to pass my class.

    Specific types of support:

    Collaboration: Compare your answers with a classmate.

    Exercise 3\(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Below you are provided with an audience, purpose, and a topic sentence you want to support. Write down what types of support you would use in this situation to convince your audience.

    Audience: General public in college (as for an essay)

    Purpose: Engage younger people in the democratic process.

    Topic Sentence: The voting age should be lowered to 16 in local elections.

    Specific types of support:

    Collaboration: Compare your answers with a classmate.

    Contributors and Attributions

    This page most recently updated on June 4, 2020.

    This page titled 6.2: Types of Support is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Athena Kashyap & Erika Dyquisto (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .