Dr. William Major

I. Definition: To Illustrate is to explain a general statement using one or more examples.

a. examples are used to make general statements more concrete, to make the abstract clear
b. to better explain concepts
c. to keep essays from being overly vague
d. you need details

1. To make general specific
2. To make abstract concrete

II. How Many Examples are Enough?

a. enough to convince readers of your thesis

1. Single extended example: gives a complete view of the subject
2. Multiple examples (from a few to many): for a short paper, no more than three or four

III. How to Gather Examples:

a. from personal experience
b. from observation
c. from research: library, interviews, etc.

IV. How to Develop Examples:

a. make a generalization first, then support that generalization with the illustration
b. your examples need to be specific enough to support the generalization
c. the more examples you use, the less development your paper may have: be careful

V. How to Organize Examples:

a. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, what’s your purpose, then:

1. Use order of importance

a. least to most; most to least
b. do you want to make an impact on your reader early on?
c. Do you want to make an impact on your reader as a conclusion?