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This writing strategy will prevent people from misunderstanding your argument

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The background information in a piece of persuasive writing can easily be misinterpreted by readers as supporting evidence for the main argument. Less commonly, the supporting evidence for the main argument can be misinterpreted as background information. In reality, background information and supporting evidence serve very different purposes. Poor communication between reader and writer can arise when the writer fails to clarify which sections are background information and which sections are supporting evidence.

So, what’s the difference between supporting evidence and background information? Supporting evidence provides an answer to the question, “why is your main argument sound?” It can help readers grasp why someone could think your main argument is worth considering. Readers can decide whether they agree with you by comparing your main argument’s supporting evidence with the supporting evidence of other theories.

On the other hand, background information is used to clarify the supporting evidence and/or the main argument. Background information contextualizes the rest of your text, helping prevent you from running into communication problems revolving around different meanings of the same words. It precedes your supporting evidence so readers can get in the same headspace as you when they read the supporting evidence.

To prevent people from confusing your background information with your supporting evidence, you can organize your text into three sections: background information, main argument, and supporting evidence. If you choose to use this method, each of these sections should have their own paragraph, with a heading that states which section each paragraph corresponds with. Otherwise, it might not work.

Mixing up background information and supporting evidence results in a complete defacement of what the writer was trying to say. Once it occurs, the reader and the writer are understanding things so differently from each other that the cause of the conflict can be difficult to detect. Before cancelling someone over something they wrote, make sure to confirm with them which parts were background information and which parts were supporting evidence. You might be surprised.

Since misinterpretation can happen in any environment, these guidelines can be applied to any form of written communication. If I were to apply them to this post, paragraphs 1-3 would be background information, paragraph 4 would be the main argument, and paragraph 5 would be the supporting evidence.

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