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What Is a Claim in Writing + How to Write Them Effectively

Reem Abouemera

August 1, 2022

Imagine you're on a debate team and have been assigned the resolution's affirmative side. How exciting! The resolution is "The United States should require all of its citizens to vote." You'll need to present several well-crafted arguments or claims supporting your position to win the debate. 

Similarly, if you're working on a piece of writing, whether it's an essay, academic paper, or writing a blog post, making claims can help strengthen your argument and make it more persuasive. As a result, it's important to understand what claims are and how to write them effectively.

In this article, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about making claims in writing, including what they are, the different types of of claims, how to write a claim, and some examples. 

What is a claim?

A claim is an argument you make in your writing. It's the main point or position that you're trying to communicate, and everything else in your piece should support it. Claims can be either positive or negative, but they should always be clear and direct.

For a claim to be effective, it needs to be something that can be supported by evidence. For example, if you were writing an essay about the benefits of exercise, your claim might be "Exercise is necessary for good health." To support this claim, you would need to provide evidence, such as statistics or studies that support your argument.

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Your readers may or may not initially agree with your claim, but if you can provide strong evidence to support it, you'll be well on your way to making a persuasive argument.

Statement vs. claim

The words "statement" and "claim" are often used interchangeably, but there's actually a difference between the two. A statement is a simple declaration of fact, while a claim is an assertion that something is true.

For example, the following sentence is a statement: "The sun rises in the east." This fact can be easily verified and is not up for debate.

On the other hand, the following sentence is a claim: "Everyone should eat breakfast every day." This is an assertion that breakfast is important, but it's not a fact. You would need to provide evidence to support this claim.

As you can see, claims are usually more complex than statements, and they require some proof or evidence to back them up because they're arguable. In contrast, statements are usually more straightforward and don't need as much support because they're not open to interpretation or debate.

Now that you know the difference between statements and claims, let's take a closer look at some of the different types of claims you might encounter in your writing.

What are the types of claims?

From claims of fact or definition to claims about value and concluding claims, there are many different types of claims you might come across in your writing. Here are some of the most common ones.

Claims of fact or definition

Claims of fact or definition state that something is true or that something means a certain thing. These claims usually assert that a condition exists or that something happened or will happen.

Example: "The death penalty is the most effective way to deter crime." This claim asserts that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than any other method. 

To support this claim, you would need to provide evidence, like statistics or studies, demonstrating that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime.

Claims of cause and effect

Claims of cause and effect are concerned with why something happens or what the consequences of something might be. These claims assert that one thing causes another to happen or that one thing is the result of another.

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Example: "Smoking cigarettes leads to cancer." This claim asserts that smoking cigarettes causes cancer. And while many people might believe this to be true, you would still need to provide evidence to show a decisive correlation between smoking and cancer.

Claims of value

Claims about value assess the worth or goodness of something. These claims assert that something is good or bad, right or wrong, etc., compared to something else.

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Example: "Apples are better than oranges." This claim asserts that apples are better than oranges, but it doesn’t say why they're better. 

To make this claim more persuasive, you would need to provide reasons why apples are indeed better than oranges. Perhaps you could argue that apples are more nutritious or have a superior taste.

Claims about solutions or policies

As their name implies, claims about solutions or policies propose a course of action to solve a problem. These claims assert that a certain solution is the best or only way to solve a particular problem.

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Example: "The government should provide free healthcare for all citizens" is a claim about a policy solution. This claim asserts that the government should provide free healthcare as a way to solve the problem of healthcare accessibility. 

To support this claim, you could provide evidence about how free healthcare would benefit citizens or help solve the problem of healthcare accessibility.

Descriptive claims

Descriptive claims simply describe something. They don't make a value judgment or propose a solution. Rather, they just state what something is or how something happened.

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Example: "The sky is blue." This claim is simply describing the sky as blue; it's not making an argument about whether the sky is blue or not.

While descriptive claims don't need evidence to support them, you could still provide evidence to reinforce your claim. For instance, you could include a photo of the sky to show that it's indeed blue.

Descriptive claims can also help support other types of claims. For instance, if you were making a claim about the beauty of the sky, a descriptive claim about the sky's color could help support your argument.

Argumentative claims

Argumentative claims are among the most common claims you'll see in academic writing. These claims make an argument or take a position on a debatable issue, and they typically serve as the foundation for a research paper.

Example: "Poverty is caused by lazy people who don't want to work." This claim asserts that poverty is caused by laziness, and it's taking a position on the issue of poverty.

Since argumentative claims are based on debatable issues, you will need to provide evidence to support your claim. This evidence could take the form of statistics, studies, or expert testimony. These claims are also harder to prove than other types of claims, so you'll need to be sure to choose a claim that you can support with evidence.

Concluding claims

Last but not least, concluding claims are used to wrap up or conclude an argument. These claims provide a final, definitive statement about the issue at hand.

An example of a concluding claim would be "Poverty is a global problem that needs to be addressed." This claim asserts that poverty is a global problem and provides a call-to-action to address the issue.

As with other types of claims, you can provide evidence to support a concluding claim. However, this type of claim is often more persuasive without evidence, as it provides a clear conclusion to the argument.

A step-by-step guide to writing a claim

Now that you know more about the different types of claims, it's time to put your knowledge into practice. Here are the steps you'll need to take to write an effective claim.

1. Choose the topic of your claim

The first step in writing a claim is choosing the topic of your claim. To do this, you'll need to pick an issue or topic that you want to write about. Once you've chosen your topic, you can narrow it down to a specific claim.

For instance, rather than focusing on the topic of unemployment at large, you could focus your claim on the cause of unemployment among millennials. Then, once you've settled on a specific topic and claim, you can move on to the next step.

2. Set up a question backed with an answer

Once you've chosen your topic and claim, the next step is to set up a question that your claim will answer. This question should be something your reader might be wondering about the topic.

For instance, if you're writing about the cause of unemployment among millennials, your question might be, "What is the cause of unemployment among millennials?" By providing a question, you'll be able to focus your claim and provide a clear answer for your reader.

3. Define the goal of the paper

The next step is to define the goal of your paper. What are you trying to accomplish with your paper? Are you trying to persuade your reader of something? Are you trying to inform your reader about a certain issue?

Your goal will determine the type of claim you need to make. For instance, if you're trying to persuade your reader to take action on an issue, you'll need to make a cause-and-effect or argumentative claim and end the piece with a concluding claim.

However, if you're trying to inform your reader about a certain issue, you might only need to make a descriptive claim or claim of fact.

4. Take a single-issue stance

Once you've defined the goal of your paper, it's time to take your stance. This means you need to choose which side of the issue you're going to argue.

For instance, if you're writing about the cause of unemployment among millennials, you'll need to choose what exactly you think is causing unemployment among millennials.

Is it a lack of skills? Is it the economy? Or is it something else entirely?

The most important part here is to make sure you're taking a clear stance on the issue. You don't want to be wishy-washy or try to argue both sides of the issue.

5. Create a different approach to the topic

After you've chosen a side of the argument at hand, it's time to create a different approach to the topic. This means you need to come up with a new angle or perspective on the issue. Most topics have been covered countless times, so finding a fresh angle is important.

For instance, you could rely on sources that other writers haven't used, or you could do your own primary research by conducting surveys or interviews. Alternatively, you could make a claim that no one has made before.

However you choose to approach the topic, ensure that your angle is fresh and unique. The more original your approach, the more likely it is that your claim will be successful and leave a lasting impression on your reader.

6. Write the claim

After you've chosen your topic, set up a question, defined the goal of your paper, taken a side, and created a different approach to the topic, it's finally time to make your claim.

This is where you'll need to state your position on the issue clearly and concisely. A claim can be made in one sentence or multiple sentences, but it should be easy to understand and remember. Avoid too much technical jargon or long, dense sentences.

What makes a good claim?

Once you're done with your claim, you might be wondering if you did a good job. To verify, take a look at these three qualities of a good claim.

States a fact that is debatable with evidence

First, a good claim is one that stirs up debate. It's a claim that isn't immediately obvious or accepted as fact. This means there should be room for discussion and disagreement.

If your claim isn't debatable, then it's not really a claim at all; it's just stating something that everyone already knows to be true. For instance, "The sun will rise tomorrow" is not a claim because there's no room for debate.

On the other hand, "The sun causes cancer" is a claim because people could reasonably disagree with it. There's evidence to support this claim, but there's also evidence that contradicts it.

Defines the goals, scope, and direction you will follow

Secondly, a good claim defines your paper's goals, scope, and direction. It's a roadmap of sorts that tells your reader what they can expect from the rest of your essay.

For instance, if you're writing about the cause of unemployment among millennials, your claim might be something like, "The primary cause of unemployment among millennials is a lack of skills."

This claim not only takes a stand on the issue but also defines your paper's scope. You're no longer just writing about unemployment among millennials; you're writing about the primary cause of unemployment among millennials.

A weak claim, on the other hand, might be something like "Unemployment is a problem." This claim doesn't take a stand and doesn't define your paper's scope. As a result, it's not nearly as effective as it could be.

Upholds a focused, specific argument

Lastly, a good claim is one you can defend with a clear and specific argument. You should be able to sum it up in a single sentence (or two), and it should be easy to pinpoint where your argument is headed.

An example of a specific and focused claim would be, "The American education system is failing because it doesn't adequately prepare students for the workforce." This claim is easy to understand, and it's clear where the argument is going. It's not too long and doesn't include any extraneous information.

In contrast, a subpar claim would be something like "The American education system is failing." This claim is too vague, and it's not clear where the argument is going. As a result, it would be very difficult to defend this claim in an essay because there are too many directions it could go in. 

Tips on how to write a claim in an essay

Before we wrap up, here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing a claim in an essay. Think of this as your final checklist before you hit "submit."

Make it straightforward

The best claims are ones that are easy to understand. Avoid using technical jargon or long, complicated sentences. Instead, get straight to the point and make your position clear. No beating around the bush!

Make your claim specific

A specific claim is much easier to defend than a vague one. Therefore, try to be as specific as possible when making your claim. This will make it easier to support your argument and keep your essay focused. Avoid broad, sweeping statements.

Don't worry about the truthfulness of your claim

You don't need to worry about whether or not your claim is true. In fact, it's often more effective to make a claim you know people will disagree with. This will create more room for debate and discussion. In fact, it gets readers thinking and engaged with your essay.

Make your claim contestable

Similar to the previous point, you want your claim to be something that people could reasonably disagree with. If everyone agrees with your claim, there's not much room for discussion.

Don't be afraid to think outside the box and present a unique perspective. This is what makes your essay interesting and worth reading. If you make a claim like "Water is essential to life," there's not much to argue with there, and that already feels like ancient news.

Include some visuals

When making your claim, try to include some visuals. This could be a statistic, a graph, or even just a simple image. This will help break up the text and make your claim more engaging. People are more likely to remember a claim they can see rather than one they just read.

Find an example

If you're having trouble coming up with a good claim, try looking for an example. Find an essay or article that makes a similar argument to the one you're planning to make. This will help you get some ideas and inspiration for your own paper. However, remember to add your own spin to it!

Be brief

Finally, when writing your claim, be as brief as possible. This will help keep your essay focused and on track. Remember, you can always elaborate more on your claim in the body of your paper. The claim is just a brief introduction to your argument.

Examples of a strong claim

To put this into perspective, let's take a look at some examples of strong claims. These are claims that would be easy to defend in an essay.

The death penalty

Strong Version:

  • The death penalty is a violation of human rights and should be abolished.

Weak Version:

  • The death penalty should be abolished.

Climate change

Strong Version:

  • Humans are causing climate change, and it's a major problem that needs to be addressed.

Weak Version:

  • Climate change is a problem.

Harmony with nature

Strong Version:

  • The world would be a better place if more people lived in harmony with nature.

Weak Version:

  • People should live in harmony with nature.

Marriage

Strong Version:

  • Marriage leads to a happier and more stable life.

Weak Version:

  • Marriage is good.

Similarities and differences

As you can see, what these four examples have in common is that they're all straightforward, specific, and contestable claims. These would be easy to defend in an essay, and there's plenty of room for discussion.

On the other hand, the "weak" versions of these claims are much more vague and difficult to defend. They’re also not as interesting or engaging to read since they don't provoke much thought or discussion.

Conclusion

Claims are the basis of all good arguments. Without them, many essays would be dry, boring, and unengaging. That doesn't apply to essays—any good piece of writing, whether it's an article, a blog post, or even a tweet, should have a clear and compelling claim.

The next time you sit down to write, make sure your claims are strong, specific, and contestable. This will help you keep your writing interesting and engaging for readers. Just don't forget to back up your claims with evidence!

If you don't want to do it all by yourself, let Copy.ai help. With our AI-powered writing tool, you can create high-quality claims (and even the rest of your essay) in just a few minutes. All you need is a topic, and Copy.ai will do the rest.

This article is part of an ongoing series on how to write effectively, it includes many other guides on writing in different formats and styles that include:

How To Write A Tagline
How to Write a Recommendation Letter for a Student
How To Write A Screenplay
How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
How to Write a Research Proposal

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