How to Use Textual Evidence in Your Writing

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Essential Question: How can I use textual evidence to support my claims?

When we write in an academic capacity (that’s a fancy pants way of saying “when we write for school”), we’re always expected to use textual evidence to support our claims. But why? There are multiple reasons:

Reason 1: You need evidence to prove that you know what you’re talking about. Using evidence from a text shows your reader that you are smart and that you know what you’re talking about. Also, the stronger your evidence, the more likely you are to win an argument!

Reason 2: The Common Core State Standards value the ability to use textual evidence more than any other skill. How do I know? It’s listed multiple times in the reading, writing, and speaking and listening standards! Don’t believe me? Check out the image below.

Reason 3: Every single question on the English PARCC exam tests your ability to use textual evidence. Seriously, every single one.

Basically, if you can use textual evidence to support your claims, you are well on your way to conquering the world…or at least the intelligent world. Continue reading to learn how to successfully embed evidence into your writing using three easy steps!

Embedding Evidence: A Three-Step Process

So, you’ve been given a prompt that requires you to use evidence/support/quotes to support your response. Congratulations! You’ve just been given an opportunity to prove that you know what the heck you’re talking about! Use the AVID strategy below to rock your response.

Step One: Introduce the source and the author. If you haven’t already done so earlier in your document, provide comments about the source or the author. Check out three different examples of step one below:

  • The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), in their article “Immigrants Are a Vital Component of American Society,”
  • In the article “The Threat of Terrorism Is Being Reduced,” John Ashcroft, the U.S. attorney general,…
  • In his article “Global Warming is a Serious Threat to Humanity’s Future,” Mark Lynas, the author of High Tide: News from a Warming World,…

Step TwoProvide a paraphrase or direct quotation to support your claim. Make sure you begin with a verb and end with a parenthetical citation. Check out three examples of step two below. These examples are a continuation of the three examples from step one, respectively.

  • maintains that immigrants in America make every effort to assimilate (64)
  • claims that “terrorism is relatively inexpensive to conduct, and devilishly difficult to counter” (Viewpoint 27).
  • argues that in other parts of the world, flooding, drought, and sea-level rise are forcing people to leave their homes, creating environmental refugees (123).

Step Three: Comment on why the evidence you used is important, relevant to the prompt, or somehow significant to your claim. This should be between one to three sentences. Check out the three examples of step three below. These are also continuations of the examples of steps two and three.

  • This position refutes a common belief held by critics of immigration – that foreign-born Americans refuse to learn English and do not embrace “the American way of life.”
  • This point is troublesome. America is spending billions of dollars on the “War on Terror” and using its military might to fight an elusive enemy.
  • It is important for us to consider this point because mass displacement of human life could have severe consequences for communities all around the globe.

Want a quick and easy way to remember these steps? Download and save the image below as a quick reference! You may even print this out to put into your interactive notebook.

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Learn more about embedding quotes into your writing by checking out Patterns for Incorporating Quotations into Sentences. 

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