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How are supporting details used?

When a writer makes a claim, the position should be backed with supporting details and examples. These details supply evidence that defends the validity of the claim, and they should be relevant, credible, and verifiable.

Why is it important to relate supporting details directly to the thesis or topic sentence?

In an academic paper, the claim and main ideas stated in the thesis and topic sentences require further explanation and support. The major components of a paper—the thesis, the topic sentences, and the supporting details—should work together to create a strong and stable essay. The thesis should be supported by each paragraph, and each paragraph’s topic sentence should be supported with relevant details and examples. If one of those components fails to do its job, the foundation of the paper is compromised and the argument is weakened.

Without relevant supporting details, the paper may lack cohesiveness and credibility. The reader may be unable to follow the progression of the argument and remain unconvinced that the claim or ideas have a credible foundation. To maintain the credibility of the author and the paper, include details and examples that clearly correspond to the claim and main ideas. It may be helpful to list some of these potential supporting details and select the most relevant before writing.

Let’s look at an example:

Claim: A stay-at-home parent performs a number of important tasks that others are paid to do.

Relevant supporting details: This list should include jobs that others are commonly paid to perform. These items on the following list could be considered relevant to the claim and could be verified by many stay-at-home parents and by reliable research:

  • nanny: children are cared for
  • chauffer: children may be transported to school and a variety of activities
  • tutor: assistance with homework and projects may be provided
  • manager: a wide variety of household tasks are organized and performed
  • chef: meals are planned and prepared
  • accountant: finances are managed

Irrelevant details: These ideas would not be appropriate to support the writer’s claim, because these activities are not usually performed by paid workers and would be considered irrelevant to the claim.

  • coach: youth sports are often coached by the parent of one of the team members
  • volunteer: parents may do volunteer work at their child’s school
  • scout leader: boy scout and girl scout troops are usually led by a parent volunteer