Support

All the things that go in the body paragraphs of an essay we call support. The purpose of the support material is to convince your reader that your point is true and to make the point memorable. Support often includes stories, examples, explanations, and vivid descriptions. Since essays usually don’t use outside sources, quotes or statistics aren’t commonly used as support material.

The most effective tool to use to support a point in an essay is a detailed example—a story. Stories that describe one thing that happened one time to one person, and that contain enough detailed description to create a vivid mental picture, are usually the best.

SUPPORT THAT IS NOT SPECIFIC ENOUGH: (not enough detail and too many general statements):

Kyle is trainable. When he first started with my company, he knew very little about the antiques and collectible business.  Kyle absorbed everything like a sponge, following my directions to the letter.  He also had knack for observational learning.  He was always working hard and improving.  He was the perfect apprentice. One time, I was looking at a collection of antique advertising signs.  It was a huge collection. Kyle knew nothing about signs.  I identified one of the signs being a reproduction.  I gave instruction on what to look for and had him pull all of the reproduction signs.  He identified all of the reproduction signs accurately. Kyle saved me time and money.  I couldn’t dream up a better employee if I tried.  

GOOD SUPPORT (good detail and an acceptably low number of general statements):

Kyle is trainable. In the fall of 2014, I was looking at a collection of antique signs at an old junk yard in South Beloit, IL.  It was a huge collection—a two-by-three-foot, wooden Pabst Blue Ribbon sign; a yellow, wooden stop sign with marbles for reflectors; and a three-foot round Buick dealership sign, stood out among many others. Kyle knew nothing about signs.  I identified a Quaker State Oil sign as a reproduction—something that was made to look old but really wasn’t. The sign had seams that were smooth and machined. Signs that were made in the 1940s or before have small pinch marks where the seams were crimped by a hand tool. I showed Kyle and had him pull all of counterfeit items.  He found a Budweiser tray, a Hamm’s neon light, and several other pieces that were not authentic, which saved me time and money.

SUPPORT THAT IS NOT SPECIFIC ENOUGH:
If I could change some of my past decisions, I would be in a better mental state. Mental health is important; it’s important to take care of oneself and to make sure the brain is healthy and working properly. I had a large change in environment in middle school. I went from a school that I loved wholeheartedly to a school where I knew nothing and no one. As a 12 year old…

GOOD SUPPORT:
First of all, I wish that I would not have changed schools after seventh grade. I loved my first middle school. My best friend, Sally, and I often went to the local mall on the way home.  One particular time, we each spent over $100, and as we were walking out, she stopped me.  She said, I know this is a little weird, but you’re such a great friend that I got you this.” She pulled out a tiny purple box that was gift wrapped, and I opened it slowly.  Inside a beautiful silver locket was a picture of the two of us under an inscription that read, “Friends Forever.” I left that school in the middle of my…

I fixed one great student’s paragraph by inserting the text in red in this picture:

Another example:

POOR SUPPORT:

First of all, people are able to buy and consume tobacco products at the age of eighteen. Tobacco is illegal for anyone under the age of eighteen to buy or use, which I can agree with. It is a toxic and harmful substance which is why it is illegal in the first place. I have a friend who went out and bought cigarettes the day he turned eighteen because at that point it was legal and he could do so…

GOOD SUPPORT:
First of all, people are able to buy and consume tobacco products at the age of eighteen. Tobacco is illegal for anyone under the age of eighteen to buy or use, which I can agree with. It is a toxic and harmful substance which is why it is illegal in the first place. My friend, Jake, turned 18 last April. As soon as he woke up on his birthday, he jumped into his car in the driveway where he lives off West Elm street on the south end of Janesville. He drove straight to the Kwik Trip on Milton Avenue near the Interstate, walked in and asked for two packs of Camel Lights…

Take another look at the support used in the following paragraph from the example essay that was included under the link, “The Traditional Essay.”

Beyond safety, the old forklift is reducing productivity. Toward the beginning of last week, we were working on several rush orders for automotive parts: the blowers for Acme Corporation, the alternators for Montana Supply, and the fin extenders for Napa. The forklift kept breaking down, and we had to continually shut down production because we couldn’t get the pallets moved out of the production areas. I had to have the employees working on the fin extenders take them off the pallets, load them onto hand trucks and then restack them on pallets in the holding area at the loading dock. We lost about 17 man hours from this, which may have completely eaten up our profit on that order.

You can see how the detailed example, which provides a vivid mental picture, helps prove that the old forklift is reducing productivity.

Write one paragraph for each of the three supporting points you came up with. Use detailed examples that create vivid mental images. Make sure each paragraph is at least 100 words long.