MTM Writing Clinic
MLK 252 
Phone: 713-313-7981
Email: owl@tsu.edu


Anecdotal

Anecdotes are short and interesting stories taken from an individual’s personal experience – either your own or that of someone you know. Anecdotes can be useful in persuading your reader as they accentuate and/or illustrate a point with an emotionally vested example of success or failure.

For instance, if you are attempting to garner support for changing language requirements for licensure, you might tell the story of someone you know who is not a native English speaker. For example:

I worked with Maria, a clerk, at a local retail store. One day, she shared with me her frustration at being unable to pursue her profession and passion: pharmacy. Maria had been a pharmacist for many years in her native country, and upon immigrating to the United States she sat for exams in order to transfer her license. She passed the pharmological portions of the exam with flying colors, but was unable to pass the English language requirement. I was shocked! Here was a highly qualified, intelligent woman denied access to her profession, not because she couldn’t speak English, but because the state deemed her skills insufficient.

However, anecdotal evidence does have limitations. Because it is confined to individual experience, it often lacks the ability to be replicated and is not considered factual.

It also cannot be used for statistical purposes as the sample size—a single individual—is not large enough to draw conclusions. Despite these limitations, anecdotal evidence can still be a useful tool in persuading, entertaining, and informing audiences about complex issues by providing a concrete and relatable example.