How to Use Effective Evidence in Essays

Many writers have not learned how to write body paragraphs for an essay, article, formal research paper, or business letter. All too often, students only received the following instruction about how to write body paragraphs: Write a topic sentence; write major detail sentences; then, support the major detail sentences with minor detail sentences. Not much help with that limited instruction…

The following strategies will help you write learn how to write body paragraphs that will be appropriate to the writing task, provide pertinent evidence to prove your thesis, and also show off your writing skills. The CeF SCALE memory trick will help remind you of the evidence strategies you need to use on timed writing tasks. Not every evidence strategy fits the purpose of every writing task, so learn and practice these options to increase your writing skill-set.

CeF SCALE Evidence Strategies (Think Centigrade Fahrenheit)

1. A comparison means to show how the subject is like something else in a meaningful way. (C)

2. An experience used as evidence may be a commonly known event or an event of which there is limited knowledge. (e)

3. A fact means something actually said or done. Use quotes for direct or indirect quotations. (F)

4. A statistic is a numerical figure that represents evidence gained from scientific research. (S)

5. A counterpoint states an argument against your thesis statement and then provides evidence against that argument. (C)

6. An appeal to authority is a reference from an authority on a certain subject. (A)

7. Logic means to use deductive (general to specific) or inductive (specific to general) reasoning to prove a point. (L)

8. An example is a subset typical of a category or group. (E)

A good body paragraph might be structured in this way:

Topic Sentence

Evidence Strategy #1 Sentence

Analysis Sentence

Evidence Strategy #2 Sentence

Major Detail

Evidence Strategy #3 Sentence

Generally, avoid concluding statements in short essays. Concluding statements are helpful when used in longer research papers, following several paragraphs organized by one umbrella topic sentence.

I suggest that you take the time to pre-write before drafting any writing task. Compose your thesis statement first; then, brainstorm the body paragraphs. Next, draft the body paragraphs, skipping space to later write your introductory paragraph. Then, write the introduction. Finish the writing with your conclusion paragraph.

Now you have the right strategies to make your case, using a variety of effective evidence. Using the CeF SCALE evidence strategies will help you convince your jury.

Related video: Helping Students Develop an Academic Voice in Writing with Jeanne Lambert | The New School

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