Types of Support

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There are many types of support, depending on the purpose of your essay. Supporting sentences usually offer some 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 less directly moved out of their jobs, 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. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxavGoTUPrc)

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 unit of support. The purpose of the essay simply lets you know the type of support you may want to emphasize.

Here’s an example of one supporting 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.

The following video discusses the elements of a strong supporting paragraph and illustrates types of evidence.