8 Types of Evidence to Support Claims in Your Paper

When composing an outline for your next essay or research paper, remember this: A paper is only as good as the evidence that supports it. But what is the best kind of evidence to support your claims? Here are a few different types to choose from.

1.  Facts

This is really the best kind of evidence you can use because facts cannot be disputed. For example, if you are writing a paper on animal rights, presenting factual information about puppy mills, it gets your reader into your plane of reasoning. When possible, use numerical data to give even more legs to your argument.

2.  Numerical Data

It’s hard to imagine anything that could be more convincing than numbers. As with historical facts, numbers are something that your reader just can’t disagree with. If you are writing about the Internet censorship, a statistic that the Chinese government has blocked 923 websites can be convincing.


A quote from an expert in the field is an excellent way to backup your claim. Just make sure that your source truly is an expert in a field that relates to your topic. For a paper on the national deficit, a quote from a former Senator would be convincing, but a quote from a psychologist would not.

4.  Examples

Stories from your own experience add a human element to your argument which can make it more persuasive. For example, if you are writing a paper on homeland security, the story of the time you had troubles getting through security at the airport would add a compelling personal dimension.

5.  Judgment

Facts and statistics do not have much meaning without the author’s interpretation of them. After you have presented a convincing array of facts, data, and examples, provide the conclusion that can be made based on this information. After presenting data about the burgeoning number of E-commerce stores, as well as your own story about how much money you made by starting an online store to sell cell phone parts, you can present your conclusion that the Internet may be poised to take over the business world.

6.  Paraphrasing

A paraphrase is similar in purpose to a quote. The only difference is, that instead of quoting your source word-for-word, you are summing up the main gist of their statement in your own words.

7.  Testimony

If you have no personal experience of the topic, an eyewitness account can lend an emotional impact to your argument. For example, relating the story of a first responder during September, 11th can add weight to your argument about how uniquely devastating the event was.

8.  Visual Images

There’s an old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Use the power of visual impact whenever you can through photos, charts, and infographics. Making a statement about the potential benefits of charter schools can be powerful, but not nearly as powerful as a bar graph that shows how graduates from charter schools perform better.

Use these kinds of evidence in your next paper, and you will have constructed a powerful argument to convince any reader.