MTM Writing Clinic
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:
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.