Illustration - Patterns of development

Successful college writing, Eighth edition - Kathleen T. McWhorter 2020

Patterns of development

Explaining with Examples


In this chapter you will learn to

✵ understand the purpose and function of illustration essays

✵ use graphic organizers to visualize illustration essays

✵ integrate illustration into an essay

✵ read and think critically about illustration

✵ plan, organize, draft, revise, and edit essays using illustration

Writing Quick Start


In an environmental science class, the instructor presents the photograph on this page showing an oil spill cleanup and says, “This is an example, a specific situation that illustrates the larger concept or idea of environmental pollution.” Next she asks the class to think of other examples that also illustrate the idea of environmental pollution.


Choose one form of pollution and draft a paragraph that presents examples illustrating it. You might choose a common form of pollution such as water, soil, or air pollution, or you might consider less well-known ones such as noise, light, visual, or outer space pollution. Begin with a topic sentence similar to the instructor’s opening statement. Then select situations that you have observed or read about that illustrate it.


The paragraph you just wrote could be part of an illustration essay. An illustration essay uses examples to reveal a topic’s essential characteristics and reinforce the thesis statement. In this chapter you will learn to use specific examples that make abstract ideas more understandable.

Explaining a concept through examples is an effective way to enable your reader to understand difficult or unfamiliar ideas by connecting them to real-life situations with which they are familiar. Examples help readers move from general ideas (which tend to be theoretical and abstract) to specific ones (which tend to be practical and realistic).



✵ Your literature instructor assigns an analysis of metaphor and simile in the poems of Emily Dickinson. To explain your point about Dickinson’s use of animal metaphors, you provide specific examples from several of her poems.

✵ You are studying sexual dimorphism (differences in appearance between the sexes) in a biology course. The following question appears on an exam: “Define sexual dimorphism and illustrate its occurrence in several different species.” In your answer, you give examples of peacocks, geese, and chickens, explaining how the males and females in each species differ in physical appearance.

✵ As an elementary school reading teacher, you are writing a letter to the school board justifying the cost of the new computer software you have requested. In your letter, you provide several examples of the software’s benefits to students.

What Are the Characteristics of Illustration Essays?

Effective illustration essays support a generalization, explain, and clarify by providing examples that maintain readers’ interest and achieve the author’s purpose. Because a good illustration essay is more than a list of examples, a well-thought-out organization is essential.

Illustration Supports Generalizations

Examples are an effective way to support a generalization — a broad statement about a topic. Thesis statements often contain a generalization, and the body of an illustration essay contains examples that support it.

The following statements are generalizations because they make assertions about an entire group or category:

✵ Most college students are energetic, ambitious, and eager to get ahead in life.

✵ Gestures play an important role in nonverbal communication.

✵ Boys are more willing to participate in class discussions than girls are.

To explain and support any of these generalizations, you could provide specific examples, along with other types of evidence (facts, statistics, expert opinions), to show how or why the statement is accurate. For instance, in addition to providing relevant facts and statistics, you could also support the first generalization by providing examples of several college students who demonstrate energy and ambition.

For more about idea-generating strategies, see Chapter 4.



Using one or more prewriting strategies for generating ideas, provide at least two examples that support each of the following general statements:

1. Television offers some programs with educational or social value.

2. Today’s parents are not strict enough with their children.

3. The favorite pastime of most men is watching sports on television.

Illustration Explains or Clarifies

Examples are useful when you need to explain an unfamiliar topic, a difficult concept, or an abstract term.

Unfamiliar topics

Use examples to help readers understand a topic about which they know little or nothing. An instructor of abnormal psychology, for example, might provide case studies of patients with schizophrenia and other disorders to help make the characteristics of each disorder easier to understand and remember.

Difficult concepts

Many concepts are difficult to grasp by definition alone. For instance, a reader might guess that the term urbanization, a key concept in sociology, has something to do with cities. Defining the concept as “the process by which an area becomes part of a city” gives readers a place to begin. Providing examples of formerly suburban areas that have become urban makes the concept even more understandable.

Abstract terms

Abstract terms refer to ideas rather than to concrete things you can see and touch. Terms such as truth and justice are abstract. Because abstractions are difficult to understand, examples help clarify them. In many cases, however, abstract terms mean different things to different people. By providing examples, you can clarify what you mean by an abstract term. Suppose you use the term unfair to describe your employer’s treatment of workers. Readers might have different ideas of fairness. Providing examples of the employer’s unfair treatment would make your meaning clear.



The following list contains a mix of unfamiliar topics, difficult concepts, and abstract terms. Choose three items from the list, and provide at least two examples of each that illustrate their meanings.

1. Phobia

2. Conformity

3. Gender role

4. Self-fulfilling prophecy

5. Sexual harassment

Illustration Considers Purpose and Audience

The number of examples a writer should include depends on his or her purpose and audience. For example, in an essay arguing that one car is a better buy than another, a series of examples explaining the various models, years, and options available to potential car buyers might be most persuasive. But if you are writing an essay for an audience of high school students about the consequences of dropping out of school, a single poignant example might be more compelling.

A careful analysis of your audience should play a key role in deciding what types of examples to include in your essay. For an expert audience, technical examples might be more appropriate; for novice readers, personal or everyday examples might be more effective. For instance, suppose you want to persuade readers that the Food and Drug Administration should approve a new cancer drug. If your audience is composed of doctors, your examples would likely include the results of scientific studies regarding the drug’s effectiveness. But if your audience is the general public, your examples might focus on personal anecdotes about lives being saved.

It can be useful to provide examples that represent different aspects of or viewpoints on your topic. In writing about the new drug, for instance, you might include expert opinion from researchers as well as the opinions of doctors, patients, and a representative of the company that manufactures the drug.



For one of the following topics, suggest examples that would suit the different audiences listed:

1. Your college’s policy on student on-campus employment

a. First-year students attending a college orientation session

b. Students already working on campus

c. Parents or spouses of students who work on campus

2. A proposal recommending that drivers over age sixty-five undergo periodic assessment of their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely

a. Senior citizens

b. State senators

c. Adult children of elderly drivers

Illustration Uses Carefully Selected Examples

Examples must be relevant, representative, accurate, and striking.

Relevant examples have a direct and clear relationship to your thesis. If your essay advocates publicly funded preschool programs, support your case with examples of successful publicly funded programs, not privately operated programs.

Representative examples show a typical or real-life situation, not a rare or unusual one. In an essay arguing that preschool programs advance children’s reading skills, one example of an all-day, year-round preschool would not be representative of all or most other programs.

Accurate and specific examples provide readers with enough information to evaluate their reliability. Notice how the second example below provides better (more specific) detail for the reader.

Overly General

Most students in preschool programs have better language skills than children who don’t attend such programs.

Specific, Detailed

According to an independent evaluator, 73 percent of children who attended the Head Start program in Clearwater had better language skills after one year of attendance than students who did not attend the program.

Striking and dramatic examples make a strong, lasting impression on readers. For example, in an essay about identity theft, a writer might relate shocking incidents of how victims’ lives are drastically changed with the swipe of a credit card.

Sometimes it is necessary to conduct research to find examples outside your knowledge and experience. For the essay on preschool programs, you would need to do research to obtain statistical information. You might also interview a preschool administrator or teacher to gather firsthand anecdotes and opinions or visit a preschool classroom to observe the program in action.

Illustration Uses Subexamples to Add Detail

When providing examples that are broad general categories, you will often find it helpful to include subexamples — specific examples that help explain the general examples. Suppose you are writing an essay about the problems that new immigrants to America face and you use three examples: problems with the language, with the culture, and with technology. For the broad culture example, you might give subexamples of how some immigrants do not understand certain American holidays, ways of socializing, and methods of doing business.

Illustration Organizes Details Effectively

When supporting a thesis with examples, organize the examples and the details that accompany them so readers can follow them easily. Often one of the methods of organization discussed in Chapter 6 will be useful:

✵ spatial order

✵ chronological order

✵ most-to-least or least-to-most order

For example, in an essay explaining why people wear unconventional dress, you might arrange the examples spatially, starting with outlandish footwear and continuing upward to headgear. For other writing assignments, you may want to organize your examples according to another pattern of development, such as comparison and contrast or cause and effect. For example, to support the thesis that a local department store needs to improve its customer service, you might begin by contrasting the department store with several other retailers that provide better service, offering examples of the services that each provides.

The following readings demonstrate the techniques for writing effective illustration essays. The first is annotated to point out how Deborah Tannen uses these techniques to help readers understand how families communicate. As you read the second essay, try to identify how the writer uses the techniques of illustration to help readers understand road rage.


What’s That Supposed to Mean?

Deborah Tannen

Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, has published numerous scholarly articles and several popular books about interpersonal communication, including You Were Always Mom’s Favorite, You’re Wearing That?, and I Only Say This Because I Love You, from which this excerpt was taken.

Before Reading

1. Preview: Use the steps listed in Chapter 2.

2. Connect: Think of a conversation between members of your own family in which a conflict or misunderstanding occurred. Why do you think it occurred? Could it have been avoided?

While Reading

Study the examples Tannen offers and read the annotations provided.

Introduction: Uses a familiar situation to engage readers; introduces first extended example illustrating metamessage

1Elizabeth, a college professor in her thirties, is making Thanksgiving dinner for her extended family in her own home. Her mother, who is visiting, is helping out in the kitchen. As Elizabeth prepares the turkey, her mother remarks, “Oh, you put onions in the stuffing?”

2Feeling suddenly as if she were sixteen years old again, Elizabeth turns on her mother. “Why do you have to criticize everything I do?”

3“I didn’t criticize,” her mother replies. “I just asked a question. What’s got into you? I can’t even open my mouth!”

Transition: Moves readers from example to explanation

4Because family members have a shared history, everything we say echoes with meanings from the past. We develop a sixth sense for sniffing out criticism in almost anything a loved one says — even an innocent question about the ingredients in holiday stuffing.

Topic sentence

Concept to be explained through examples

5When family members talk to one another, there are often two meanings to what they say. The message is the meaning of the words and sentences spoken, what anyone with a dictionary and a grammar book could figure out. Two people in a conversation usually agree on what the message is. The metamessage (the prefix meta means, among other things, going beyond or higher) is meaning that is not stated — at least not in so many words — but that is gleaned from every aspect of context; the way something is said, who is saying it, or the fact that it is said at all. You might say that the message is the “word meaning,” while the metamessage is the “heart meaning” — the meaning we react to most strongly, that triggers emotion.

First hypothetical example of ways to improve family communication

6As in the case of Elizabeth and her mother, grown children often seem to take every remark of a parent as criticism. They become attuned to any hint — any metamessage — of disapproval. Understanding this, Elizabeth’s mother might refrain from offering advice or even making helpful suggestions unless asked. Sometimes, smoother family talk is a simple matter of tongue-biting.

Thesis: There are ways to improve the communication that occurs in families.

7Sometimes, however, it’s more complex. The following situations show ways to stop your nearest and dearest from pushing your buttons in conversation, as well as ways to avoid pushing theirs.

Diet Police

Relevant and representative example to illustrate metamessage

8Irene and David, a married couple from Vermont, are looking over menus in a restaurant. David says he will order a steak.

9“Did you notice they also have salmon?” Irene asks.

10“Will you please stop criticizing what I eat?” David protests.

11“I didn’t criticize,” says Irene. “I just pointed out something I thought you might like.”

Topic sentence: Moves readers from example to explanation

12David was reacting to what he saw as Irene’s metamessage: that he eats too much red meat. It’s possible that Irene really was not feeling disapproval when she pointed out the salmon on the menu. But most likely she was, and preferred to raise her concern as a question to avoid a fight.

13When David reacted with annoyance, Irene cried literal meaning. Every one of us does that when we want to avoid discord. As a result, the deeper meanings of the conversation often are left unaddressed.

Topic sentence: Second way to improve family communication

14It might help to “metacommunicate” — that is, to talk about ways of talking. David might explain that Irene’s suggestion made him feel like he was living with the diet police. If Irene actually did mean to express concern about David’s health, she should admit that. By clarifying the meaning each person intended and perceived, the couple could build a bridge of understanding.

“Don’t Call Us …”

Second concept to be explained through example

Transition: Transitional sentence moves readers from explanation to example.

15There is another aspect of communication complicating everything we say to each other, and it’s especially powerful in families. That is our simultaneous but conflicting desires for connection and control. We all seek connection: it makes us feel safe and loved. But being close gives family members a kind of power to control our actions that can limit our freedom and make us feel hemmed in. “Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t try to control me,” are frequent protests within families. It is automatic for many of us to see others’ incursions on our freedom as control maneuvers. We are less likely to think of them as connection maneuvers, but they often are that too.

Relevant and representative example to illustrate conflicting desire for connection and control

16Nathan and Joan, a couple in their late twenties, were leaving Joan’s parents after a family visit. Holding the hand of her three-year-old daughter, Joan wobbled under the weight of a pregnancy nearing its term. As everyone said their good-byes, Joan’s mother, Nora, said, “I’ll see you when you give birth. I can’t wait to get that call when you go into labor!”

17Joan and Nathan stiffened. When Joan was about to give birth to their first child, Nora and her husband drove to the couple’s town so they would be close to the hospital. This had annoyed Nathan, who had expected his in-laws to wait until they were asked to come.

18“We’re not going to call you when she goes into labor,” Nathan said to his mother-in-law. “I’ll call to tell you when the baby is born.”

19Nora instantly protested that he had no right to keep such crucial knowledge from her. He retorted that they had a right to keep the birth private and quiet, as their daughter’s birth had not been — because of Nora’s showing up.

20Nora defended herself: it had not been her idea to come ahead in that case, but her husband’s. She promised to abide by any rules they set, insisting that not telling her when her daughter went into labor was too cruel an exclusion.

Topic sentence: Moves readers from example to explanation

21Nathan and Nora were both struggling to find their footing on the connection/control continuum. He was feeling an assault on his sense of control over his family, and she was feeling an assault on her sense of connection with her daughter. But Nora was also feeling a loss of control, as if her hands would be tied at a crucial moment — and Nathan was also feeling a loss of connection, with his wife.

Topic sentence: Prepares readers for list of ways to improve communication

Second hypothetical example of ways to improve family communication

22There are a few communication keys that would have helped them. Timing is one. Nora could have avoided putting Nathan on the defensive by making her case to be present at the birth in a calmer setting — by letter, or in a carefully thought-out conversation about how she felt and what she would be willing to promise. It probably also would have helped to say she was sorry she had come uninvited the first time. Nathan could have avoided committing himself one way or the other about calling Nora when Joan went into labor. Then later he could just not have done it, and soothed hurt feelings by explaining, “Things happened so fast I wasn’t able to call.”

“Didn’t I Tell You?”

Topic sentence: Third issue in family communication

23Even though you’re related, it’s easy to feel at times like you’re talking to a stranger. Age and gender differences are among the obstacles that can get in the way. Cindy, a small-business owner, was increasingly distressed because her grown son continued living at home after graduating from college and beginning a full-time job. His upkeep was straining her tight budget. After about three months, she said to him, “I think it would be fair for you to pay rent.”

24He replied, “I’m leaving soon.”

25Cindy was relieved that she had finally spoken up and settled the matter. But time passed and no rent appeared. After several more months, her anger erupted. During this quarrel it emerged that her son had felt that the issue of paying rent, though raised, had been left in abeyance for a little while longer. Cindy, on the other hand, had assumed that expressing her opinion implied a request for action, that all she had to do was make her wishes known and her son would feel obligated to honor them.

Transition: Highlights that explanation of example is coming

Third hypothetical example of ways to improve family communication

26Her son’s interpretation was similar to the way many men react to women’s indirect requests. Since he himself would ask directly, he did not recognize Cindy’s statement of preferences as a request for action. Because men often honestly miss indirect requests, Cindy would have done better to end her first talk with a direct statement, such as, “Then we agree you’ll start paying rent next month.” Or she could have finished with a question like, “When can I expect a check?”

Conclusion: Restates thesis in different words

27Conversation with our family is an ongoing balancing act as we try to clarify meanings that did not get across or dispel misunderstandings — and at the same time interpret what is being said to us. Staying aware of all the subtleties of family talk can give us the power to improve the most important relationships in our lives.

Visualize an Illustration Essay: Create a Graphic Organizer

Graphic Organizer 13.1 will help you visualize the components of an illustration essay. The structure is straightforward:

✵ The introduction contains background information and usually includes the thesis.

✵ The body paragraphs provide one or more related examples. For an essay using one extended example, such as a highly descriptive account of an auto accident intended to persuade readers to wear seat belts, the body of the essay will focus on the details of that one example.

✵ The conclusion presents a final statement.

For more on creating a graphic organizer, see Chapter 2.


GRAPHIC ORGANIZER 13.1 The Basic Structure of an Illustration Essay

"The items in the left column of the chart are numbered here for clarity. Items bulleted here are attached to the associated numbered items by lines. Downward arrows connect the bulleted items. 1. Title. 2. Introduction (Bullet) Background information, Thesis statement asterisk. 3. Body paragraphs (Bullet) Example 1, 2, and 3 or (Bullet) One extended example (multiple paragraphs). 4. Conclusion (Bullet) Final statement. The text below reads, “asterisk In some essays, the thesis statement may be implied or may appear in a different position.” "


Rambos of the Road

Martin Gottfried

Martin Gottfried has been a drama critic for such publications as the New York Post and New York magazine. He has also written several books, including biographies of Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, and Angela Lansbury. This essay was first published in Newsweek, the weekly news magazine, in 1986. Before reading, preview the reading and make connections by thinking of overly aggressive drivers you have encountered. While reading, notice where Gottfried employs compelling examples to support his thesis, and highlight those you find particularly striking. Read the illustration essay first, and then study Graphic Organizer 13.2. What parts of the reading are included in the graphic organizer and why?

1The car pulled up and its driver glared at us with such sullen intensity, such hatred, that I was truly afraid for our lives. Except for the Mohawk haircut he didn’t have, he looked like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, the sort of young man who, delirious for notoriety, might kill a president.

2He was glaring because we had passed him and for that affront he pursued us to the next stoplight so as to express his indignation and affirm his masculinity. I was with two women and, believe it, was afraid for all three of us. It was nearly midnight and we were in a small, sleeping town with no other cars on the road.

3When the light turned green, I raced ahead, knowing it was foolish and that I was not in a movie. He didn’t merely follow, he chased, and with his headlights turned off. No matter what sudden turn I took, he followed. My passengers were silent. I knew they were alarmed, and I prayed that I wouldn’t be called upon to protect them. In that cheerful frame of mind, I turned off my own lights so I couldn’t be followed. It was lunacy. I was responding to a crazy as a crazy.

4“I’ll just drive to the police station,” I finally said, and as if those were the magic words, he disappeared.

5It seems to me that there has recently been an epidemic of auto macho — a competition perceived and expressed in driving. People fight it out over parking spaces. They bully into line at the gas pump. A toll booth becomes a signal for elbowing fenders. And beetle-eyed drivers hunch over their steering wheels, squeezing the rims, glowering, preparing the excuse of not having seen you as they muscle you off the road. Approaching a highway on an entrance ramp recently, I was strong-armed by a trailer truck, so immense that its driver all but blew me away by blasting his horn. The behemoth was just inches from my hopelessly mismatched coupe when I fled for the safety of the shoulder.

6And this is happening on city streets, too. A New York taxi driver told me that “intimidation is the name of the game. Drive as if you’re deaf and blind. You don’t hear the other guy’s horn and you sure as hell don’t see him.”

7The odd thing is that long before I was even able to drive, it seemed to me that people were at their finest and most civilized when in their cars. They seemed so orderly and considerate, so reasonable, staying in the right-hand lane unless passing, signaling all intentions. In those days you really eased into highway traffic, and the long, neat rows of cars seemed mobile testimony to the sanity of most people. Perhaps memory fails, perhaps there were always testy drivers, perhaps — but everyone didn’t give you the finger.

8A most amazing example of driver rage occurred recently at the Manhattan end of the Lincoln Tunnel. We were four cars abreast, stopped at a traffic light. And there was no moving even when the light had changed. A bus had stopped in the cross traffic, blocking our paths: it was a normal-for-New-York-City gridlock. Perhaps impatient, perhaps late for important appointments, three of us nonetheless accepted what, after all, we could not alter. One, however, would not. He would not be helpless. He would go where he was going even if he couldn’t get there. A Wall Street type in suit and tie, he got out of his car and strode toward the bus, rapping smartly on its doors. When they opened, he exchanged words with the driver. The doors folded shut. He then stepped in front of the bus, took hold of one of its large windshield wipers and broke it.

9The bus doors reopened and the driver appeared, apparently giving the fellow a good piece of his mind. If so, the lecture was wasted, for the man started his car and proceeded to drive directly into the bus. He rammed it. Even though the point at which he struck the bus, the folding doors, was its most vulnerable point, ramming the side of a bus with your car has to rank very high on a futility index. My first thought was that it had to be a rental car.

10To tell the truth, I could not believe my eyes. The bus driver opened his doors as much as they could be opened and he stepped directly onto the hood of the attacking car, jumping up and down with both his feet. He then retreated into the bus, closing the doors behind him. Obviously a man of action, the car driver backed up and rammed the bus again. How this exercise in absurdity would have been resolved none of us will ever know for at that point the traffic unclogged and the bus moved on. And the rest of us, we passives of the world, proceeded, our cars crossing a field of battle as if nothing untoward had happened.

11It is tempting to blame such belligerent, uncivil and even neurotic behavior on the nuts of the world, but in our cars we all become a little crazy. How many of us speed up when a driver signals his intention of pulling in front of us? Are we resentful and anxious to pass him? How many of us try to squeeze in, or race along the shoulder of a lane merger? We may not jump on hoods, but driving the gantlet, we seethe, cursing not so silently in the safety of our steel bodies on wheels — fortresses for cowards.

12What is it within us that gives birth to such antisocial behavior and why, all of a sudden, have so many drivers gone around the bend? My friend Joel Katz, a Manhattan psychiatrist, calls it “a Rambo pattern. People are running around thinking the American way is to take the law into your own hands when anyone does anything wrong. And what constitutes ’wrong’? Anything that cramps your style.”

13It seems to me that it is a new America we see on the road now. It has the mentality of a hoodlum and the backbone of a coward. The car is its weapon and hiding place, and it is still a symbol even in this. Road Rambos no longer bespeak a self-reliant, civil people tooling around in family cruisers. In fact, there aren’t families in these machines that charge headlong with their brights on in broad daylight, demanding we get out of their way. Bullies are loners, and they have perverted our liberty of the open road into drivers’ license. They represent an America that derides the values of decency and good manners, then roam the highways riding shotgun and shrieking freedom. By allowing this to happen, the rest of us approve.



Using Graphic Organizer 13.1 or 13.2 as a basis, draw a graphic organizer for “What’s That Supposed to Mean?”






Preview the essay to get an overview of the content and organization.

Make connections by thinking about what the title means and considering what examples from your personal experience would be relevant.

Read the headnote (if one is provided) for background information about the author and the reading.


Identify the characteristics of illustration. Be sure you can answer the following questions:

✵ What is the writer’s thesis? Is it stated or implied? If the thesis is unstated, ask yourself what one major point all of the examples illustrate.

✵ What are the main points, and how does each example illustrate them? Make notes in the margin.

✵ How are the examples organized — chronologically, spatially, or in some other way?

✵ What is the author’s purpose? Who is the intended audience?

✵ How does the writer use language to achieve the desired effect? Circle strong word choices or place a checkmark in the margin.


Draw a graphic organizer showing the key examples and identifying how they are organized. (Use your graphic organizer for review and study.)

Analyze and evaluate the reading by answering the following questions:

✵ How well do the examples explain or clarify the thesis?

✵ After reading the essay, are you convinced by the writer’s thesis? How could the author have done a better job of convincing you?

✵ What is the emotional impact of the examples and any visual aids? Explain your reaction in detail.

✵ Are the examples fair, accurate, representative, and relevant? Would other types of evidence have strengthened the essay?

✵ What is the writer’s attitude toward the subject? Highlight words with strong connotations that reveal the writer’s feelings.

✵ What is the writer’s tone? Describe the tone with two or three adjectives.

✵ What types of evidence, other than examples, does the author offer to support the thesis?

✵ Does the author omit examples that would contradict or weaken the thesis?



Apply the questions in the “How Writers Read” box above to the selection “Rambos of the Road.”

Integrate Illustration into an Essay

Examples are an effective way to support a thesis that relies on one or more other patterns of development. For instance, you might use examples in the following ways:

✵ to define a particular advertising ploy

✵ to compare two types of small businesses

✵ to classify types of movies

✵ to show the effects of aerobic exercise

✵ to argue that junk food is unhealthy because of its high fat and salt content

When using examples in an essay where illustration is not the main pattern of development, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Choose effective examples. They should be relevant, representative, accurate, specific, and striking.

2. Use transitions such as “for instance” or “for example.” They make it obvious that an example follows.

3. Provide enough details to help your readers understand how an example supports your point. Do not overwhelm your readers with too many details.


GRAPHIC ORGANIZER 13.2 The Structure of “Rambos of the Road”

"The items in the left column of the chart are numbered here for clarity. Items bulleted here are attached to the associated numbered items by lines. Downward arrows connect the bulleted items. 1. Title (Bullet) “Rambos of the Road” 2. Introduction (Bullet) Thesis: “ellipsis there has recently been an epidemic of auto macho—a competition perceived and expressed in driving.” 3. Body connected to 4. Examples of Road Rage (Bullet) Example 1: Gottfried’s narrative of the car chase (Bullet) Example 2: Being run off the road by a truck driver (Bullet) Example 3: Lincoln Tunnel example (Bullet) Example 4: A little road rage in everyone? 5. Conclusion (Bullet) In the past, drivers were polite; now, drivers are bullies/cowards who hide behind their machines. "


A Guided Writing Assignment*


Your Essay Assignment

Write an illustration essay explaining a topic your readers might find unfamiliar or challenging and that you can illustrate effectively with examples. Imagine you are writing for your campus newspaper, and choose a topic that you think might interest your readers. The following are some options:

✵ the popularity of a certain type of sport, television show, or hobby

✵ the connection between clothing and personality

✵ the problems of balancing school, work, and family

✵ effective (or ineffective) parenting, teaching, or managing employees

✵ a concept from one of your courses, such as stress management or ergonomic design

✵ * The writing process is recursive; that is, you may find yourself revising as you draft or prewriting as you revise. This is especially true when writing on a computer. Your writing process may also differ from essay to essay or from that of your classmates.


1 Select a topic from the list, or create your own.

Use one or more of the following suggestions to generate topic ideas:

1. Peruse your textbooks, looking for boldfaced terms that you find interesting or want to learn about. List several and then, alone or with another student, brainstorm examples that would help to illustrate or explain the concept. You may need to read your textbook to understand the meaning of the term.

2. Work backward. Make a list of the things you do for fun or find challenging and then consider what they have in common. Use that common thread as your topic.

After you have chosen your topic, make sure that you can develop your main idea into a well-focused working thesis.

2 Consider your purpose, audience, and point of view.

Ask yourself these questions:

✵ Will my essay’s purpose be to express myself, inform, or persuade? Several examples may be needed to persuade. One extended example may be sufficient to inform readers about a very narrow topic (for example, how to select an educational toy for a child).

✵ Who is my audience? Will readers need any background information to understand my essay? What types of examples will be most effective with these readers? Straightforward examples, based on everyday experience, may be appropriate for an audience unfamiliar with your topic; more technical examples may be appropriate for an expert audience.

✵ What other evidence (such as facts and statistics, expert opinion) will I need to make my case with my audience? Do I have enough information to write about this topic, or must I consult additional sources? How might I use additional patterns of development within my illustration essay? (For example, you might use narration to present an extended example from your own life.)

✵ What point of view best suits my purpose and audience? (Unless the examples you use are all drawn from your personal experience, you will probably use the third person when using examples to explain.)

3 Narrow your topic and generate examples:

Narrow your topic. Use prewriting to make your topic manageable. Be sure you can support your topic with one or more examples.

Use idea-generating strategies to come up with a wide variety of examples:

1. Write down the generalizations your essay will make, and then brainstorm examples that support them.

2. Freewrite to bring to mind relevant personal experiences or stories told by friends and relatives.

3. Conduct research to find examples used by experts and relevant news reports and to locate other supporting information, like facts and statistics.

4. Review textbooks for examples used there.

Hint: Keep track of where you found each example so that you can cite your sources accurately.

4 Evaluate your examples.

Try these suggestions to help you evaluate your examples:

Reread everything you have written. (Sometimes reading your notes aloud is helpful.)

Highlight examples that are representative (or typical) yet striking. Make sure they are relevant (they clearly illustrate your point). Unless you are using just one extended example, make sure your examples are varied. Then copy and paste the usable ideas to a new document to consult while drafting.

Collaborate. In small groups, take turns giving examples and having classmates tell you

1. what they think your main idea is. (If they don’t get it, rethink your examples.)

2. what additional information they need to find your main idea convincing.

Classmates can also help narrow your topic or think of more effective examples.


5 Draft your thesis statement.

Try one or more of the following strategies to develop a generalization that your examples support. (Your generalization will become your working thesis.)

1. Systematically review your examples asking yourself what they have in common.

2. Discuss your thesis with a classmate. Do the examples support the thesis? If not, try to improve on each other’s examples or revise the thesis.

3. In a two-column list, write words in the left column describing how you feel about your narrowed topic. (For example, the topic cheating on college exams might generate such feelings as anger, surprise, and confusion.) In the right column, add details about specific situations in which these feelings arose. (For example, your thesis might focus on your surprise on discovering that a good friend cheated on an exam.)

4. Research your topic in the library or on the Internet to uncover examples outside your own experience. Then ask yourself what the examples from your experience and your research have in common.

Note: As you draft, you may think of situations or examples that illustrate a different or more interesting thesis. Don’t hesitate to revise your thesis as you discover more about your topic.

Collaborate with classmates to make sure your examples support your thesis statement.

6 Select a method of organization.

✵ If you are using a single, extended example, you are most likely to use chronological order to relate events in the sequence in which they happened.

✵ If you are using several examples, you are most likely to organize the examples from most to least or least to most important.

✵ If you are using many examples, you may want to group them into categories. For instance, in an essay about the use of slang, you might classify examples according to regions or age groups in which they are used.

Hint: An outline or graphic organizer will allow you to experiment to find the best order for supporting paragraphs.

7 Write a first draft of your illustration essay.

Use the following guidelines to keep your illustration essay on track:

✵ The introduction should spark readers’ interest and include background information (if needed by readers). Most illustration essays include a thesis near the beginning to help readers understand the point of upcoming examples.

✵ The body paragraphs should include topic sentences to focus each paragraph (or paragraph cluster) on one key idea. Craft one or more examples for each paragraph (or cluster) to illustrate that key idea. Use vivid descriptive language to make readers feel as if they are experiencing or observing the situation. Include transitions, such as for example or in particular, to guide readers from one example to another. (Consult Chapter 8 for help with crafting effective descriptions.)

✵ The conclusion should include a final statement that pulls together your ideas and reminds readers of your thesis.


8 Evaluate your draft, and revise as necessary.

Use Figure 13.1, “Flowchart for Revising an Illustration Essay,” to evaluate and revise your draft.


FIGURE 13.1 Flowchart for Revising an Illustration Essay

"The information provided is as follows. Question 1: Highlight your thesis statement. Place a checkmark by each example. Do your examples clearly support the generalization your thesis makes? If yes, proceed to Question 2. If no, use this revision strategy: (Bullet)Revise your thesis, changing your generalization so that it fits your examples.  "

"The flowchart continues as follows. Question 2: Write a sentence describing your readers. Cross out any examples that won’t appeal to them. Do you have enough examples left? If yes, proceed to Question 3. If no, use these revision strategies: (Bullet) Brainstorm more appealing examples. (Bullet) Add examples that represent different aspects of or viewpoints on your topic. Question 3: Write a sentence stating the purpose of your essay. Cross out any examples that don’t fulfill your purpose. Do you have enough examples left? If yes, proceed to Question 4. If no, use these revision strategies: (Bullet) Brainstorm examples more appropriate to your purpose. (Bullet) Add some of these examples or consider cutting back and using one extended example. Question 4: Reread your examples. Is each one accurate, relevant, striking, representative, and specific? Are the examples varied? If yes, proceed to Question 5. If no, use these revision strategies: (Bullet) Brainstorm to replace dull, irrelevant, or misleading examples. (Bullet) Conduct research to discover facts, expert opinion, or statistics. Question 5: Reread your supporting paragraphs. Does each one have a topic sentence? Does each topic sentence clearly make a point that the example(s) in that paragraph illustrate? If yes, proceed to Question 6. If no, use these revision strategies: (Bullet) Add or revise the topic sentence to clearly indicate the point each example or group of examples illustrates. (Bullet) Reorganize your essay, grouping examples according to the idea they illustrate. Question 6: Outline your essay. [Bracket] each transition. Is your organization clear and effective? If yes, proceed to Question 7. If no, use this revision strategy: (Bullet) Add transitions or use a different organizing strategy. (See Chapter 6.) Question 7: Reread your introduction and conclusion. Is each effective? If no, use this revision strategy: (Bullet) Revise your introduction to engage readers and provide background. (Bullet) Revise your conclusion to remind readers of your thesis and create a satisfying ending.  "


9 Edit and proofread your essay.

Refer to Chapter 9 for help with

editing sentences to avoid wordiness, making your verb choices strong and active, and making your sentences clear, varied, and parallel

editing words for tone and diction, connotation, and concrete and specific language

Pay particular attention to the following:

1. Keep verb tenses consistent in your extended examples. When using an event from the past as an example, however, always use the past tense to describe it.

Example: Special events are an important part of children’s lives. Parent visitation day at school was an event my daughter talked about for an entire week. Children are also excited by …

2. Use first person (I, me, we, us), second person (you), or third person (he, she, it, him, her, they, them) consistently.


"The example reads, “I visited my daughter’s first-grade classroom during parents’ week last month. Each parent was invited to read a story to the class, and you were encouraged to ask the children questions afterward.” In this sentence, “you” is replaced with “we.”  "

3. Avoid sentence fragments when introducing examples. Each sentence must have both a subject and a verb.


The example reads, “Technology has become part of teenagers’ daily lives. For example, high school students who carry iPhones.” In this sentence, “For example, high” is replaced with “High” and “are one example” is added after “iPhones.”

Readings: Illustration in Action


Conforming to Stand Out: A Look at American Beauty

Nick Ruggia

Title: Ruggia identifies his topic and suggests his thesis.

Nick Ruggia, a student at the University of Maryland at College Park, wrote this essay in response to an assignment in which he was asked to examine an American obsession. He chose to write about Americans’ obsession with physical appearance. As you read his illustration essay, notice how he supports his thesis with a variety of examples.


The paragraphs in this essay are numbered 1 through 5.

Paragraph 1: In nature, two factors largely determine survival of the species: access to resources and physical attraction (necessary for the ability to mate). Humans function under the same basic rules. In modern America, where almost everyone can acquire the basic resources to live, humans are striving harder than ever to be physically attractive. Although men are increasingly caught up in its grip, the pressure to be beautiful falls most intensely on women. The thin craze, the plastic surgery craze, and the body art craze represent some of the increasingly drastic lengths American women are being driven to in their quest for physical perfection.

The above paragraph 1 is the introduction. Ruggia offers a biological reason for focusing on women. In his thesis statement, “The thin craze, the plastic surgery craze, and the body art craze represent some of the increasingly drastic lengths American women are being driven to in their quest for physical perfection,” he makes a generalization about American women, and previews his organization by presenting his three examples in the order in which he will discuss them.

Paragraph 2: Since Kate Moss’s wafer-thin frame took the modeling industry by storm, skinny has driven America’s aesthetics. Hollywood is a mirror for our desires, and our stars are shrinking. Nicole Ritchie and Angelina Jolie, among others, have publicly struggled with eating disorders. Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon are rumored to be following a diet of baby food to keep weight off (Crawford A1). And the stars aren’t alone. According to the United States National Institutes of Mental Health, about 0.9 percent of American women will suffer from anorexia in their lifetimes, while another 1.5 percent will be bulimic and 3.5 percent will binge. These numbers exclude the disordered eaters who do not meet all the criteria necessary for diagnosis or do not accurately self-report. In a population of 300 million, these statistics represent millions of women struggling with eating disorders. Men are not immune either, with 0.2 to 0.3 percent of men diagnosed with bulimia or anorexia and 2 percent diagnosed with binge eating (The Numbers).

The above paragraph 2 exhibits organization. The topic sentence, “Since Kate Moss’s wafer-thin frame took the modeling industry by storm, skinny has driven America’s aesthetics,” introduces example 1, the thin craze. In this paragraph and the next two, Ruggia uses specific celebrities such as “Nicole Ritchie,” “Angelina Jolie,” “Jennifer Anniston,” and “Reese Witherspoon” along with detailed statistics such as “about 0.9 percent of American women,” “1.5 percent,” “3.5 percent,” and “2 percent” to support his claims. These statistics suggest that the celebrities are representative of Americans in general. The phrase “According to the United States National Institutes of Mental Health” shows that Ruggia cites the sources for his subexamples using M L A style.

Paragraph 3: But for every Kate Moss idolizer, there’s a would-be Pamela Anderson. This ideal, fed by porn and Hollywood, is plastic perfection: instead of anorexically denying their curves, many women choose to enhance their features through surgery. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (A S A P S) reported that in 2015, cosmetic surgeries were up 7 percent, with an overall increase of nearly 40 percent since 2011. While

(The sentence continues on the next page.)

The above paragraph 3 exhibits organization. The sentence “But for every Kate Moss idolizer, there’s a would-be Pamela Anderson” leads into the topic sentence, “This ideal, fed by porn and Hollywood, is plastic perfection: instead of anorexically denying their curves, many women choose to enhance their features through surgery,” for example 2, the plastic surgery craze, supported by detailed statistics from reliable sources.


The essay continues from the previous page as follows.

Paragraph 3: it must be remembered that some people have more than one surgery, still, the scope of this practice is staggering nonetheless. Further evidence is provided by the surgically enhanced lips, stomachs, buttocks, and breasts that cover the pages of men’s magazines all over the country. Strippers, porn stars like Jenna Jameson, and Playboy models like Anderson and the late Anna Nicole Smith flaunt enormous fake breasts. Clearly there is a disconnect between the sexless anorexic standard that so many women strive for and the bottle blonde bombshell that so many men favor. What everyone seems to agree on, though, is that plastic surgery is a response to the fear of aging. And in this way as well, men too are increasingly vulnerable to the superficial, with the A S A P S reporting that they accounted for 9.5 percent of plastic surgeries in 2015.

In the above paragraph 3, Ruggia cites striking subexamples such as “porn stars like Jenna Jameson, and Playboy models like Anderson and the late Anna Nicole Smith” for supporting evidence.

Paragraph 4: Body art, in the form of piercing and tattoos, also illustrates (literally) Americans’ obsession with physical appearance. The pierced and tattooed once jarred on public sensibilities, but now these body modifications have gone mainstream. Even “alternative” piercings are now accepted: the late Amy Winehouse, a heavily tattooed popular musician, has added to the popularity of the “Monroe” piercing, located above the lip where Marilyn Monroe had a mole. About 40 percent of the millennial generation has at least one tattoo, and nearly a quarter have pierced something other than their ears (Millennials). Once largely limited to sailors, criminals, and punk rockers—and to men—body art has become big business, drawing in more women as it spreads.

The above paragraph 4 also exhibits organization. The topic sentence, “Body art, in the form of piercing and tattoos, also illustrates (literally) Americans’ obsession with physical appearance,” introduces example 3, the body art craze. The phrase “the late Amy Winehouse, a heavily tattooed popular musician” is a subexample.

Paragraph 5: Maybe Americans have gone too far in basing their self-worth on physical appearance. Every visible part of the human body has been marketed as a fixable flaw or an opportunity for more adornment. Of course, Americans have always cared about their looks and made great efforts to improve them, but once most people kept the issue in perspective. Today, appearance rules. And men increasingly are joining women in obedience to its commands. Both sexes, though, will find that basing self-esteem on physical appearance, a fleeting commodity at best, is a recipe for misery.

The above paragraph 5 is the conclusion, where Ruggia acknowledges that attention to appearance is nothing new, but suggests that Americans today place too much emphasis on it.


Works Cited

Crawford, Trish. “Celebrity ’Baby Food Diet’ Recipe for Eating Disorder.” Toronto Star, 18 May 2010, p. A 1.

Millennials: Confident, Connected, Open to Change. Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 24 Feb. 2010, w w w dot pew social trends dot org slash 2010 slash 0 2 slash 24 slash millennials hyphen confident hyphen connected hyphen open hyphen to hyphen change slash hash the hyphen millennial hyphen identity.

“2015 Quick Facts.” American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2016, w w w dot surgery dot org slash sites slash default slash files slash 2015 hyphen quick hyphen facts dot p d f.

The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America. United States, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Mental Health. 2013, w w w dot l b 7 dot u s courts dot gov slash documents slash 12 hyphen c v hyphen 1072 u r l 2 dot p d f.

Ruggia lists his sources in M L A style, with the entries in alphabetical order. Notice the style for listing documents from Web sites sponsored by organizations and government agencies.

Analyzing the Writer’s Technique

1. Examples Evaluate the three main examples Ruggia provides. How well do they illustrate his thesis? What other examples could he have used?

2. Sources Ruggia used four sources in writing the essay. What kinds of sources are they? How does his use of these sources strengthen his essay?

3. Evidence Ruggia uses celebrities and statistics as evidence to support each of the topic sentences about his three main examples. What other types of evidence could he have used?

Thinking Critically about Illustration

1. Emotional Response Do any of Ruggia’s examples or pieces of evidence create an emotional impact? If so, choose several and explain their effects.

2. Connotation What are the connotations of “bottle blonde bombshell” (para. 3)?

3. Alternative Viewpoints What other types of sources could Ruggia have consulted to research and discuss alternative viewpoints?

4. Generalization Is the generalization in the essay’s last sentence well-supported and well-explained in the essay?

Responding to the Essay

1. Discussion Discuss the meaning and effectiveness of Ruggia’s title.

2. Journal In your journal, respond to the following question: To what extent do you agree that piercings and tattoos are widely accepted?

3. Thinking Critically What do you think is the reason for the “disconnect” that Ruggia mentions in paragraph 3? Is the problem that women don’t understand what men want? That men don’t understand what women want? Both? Something else?

4. Essay Are Americans obsessed with appearances in other ways? Write an essay explaining another American obsession. Use examples to support your thesis.


Using Emoji for Digital-Age Language Learning

Gretchen McCullough

Gretchen McCullough writes the Resident Linguist column for Wired magazine and has written for a number of other publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Mental Floss, and Slate. She is especially interested in writing about what she calls the “language of the internet.” A podcaster and blogger, McCullough also publishes a monthly newsletter and has published the book Because Internet: Understanding the Rules of Language (2019). In the following piece, she explores how children use emoji to learn language and communicate. Before reading, preview and make connections by thinking about the emoji you use most often and how they help you communicate. While reading, observe and highlight how the author uses examples to illustrate various stages of emoji use.


Organizing Information to Promote Recall

To explain emoji use, the author tracks how it progresses and changes among children and draws comparisons between children and adults. To make review and recall easier, create a two-column list of ages and the characteristics of emoji use. Also highlight how emoji use differs between adults and children.

1A couple of months ago, NPR reporter Lulu Miller tweeted a question. She knew a five-year-old who was texting exclusively in emoji, and wondered if [there were] any studies about kids, too young to read, who used emoji to communicate. People wouldn’t stop tagging me in the thread, but we couldn’t find any existing studies, so I decided to run a survey and make a small corpus of my own (McCullough).

2I wanted to find out not only whether kids were texting emoji but which emoji, and why? How do they organize emoji into sequences and ideas, and how do these early ramblings shift as kids learn to read? So I asked parents and other people with young children in their life to copy-paste in a few examples of their kids’ electronic communication, with names and other identifying details removed. The results are charming and linguistically interesting (Pardes).

3When kids use emoji it may seem random — a bunch of silly pictures on a screen. But kids start out learning spoken and signed languages in a similar way: by babbling nonsense syllables, which teaches them the rhythm of conversation and trains them to make fine articulatory movements. The silly strings of emoji that young kids send could serve a similar purpose. By exposing kids to the rhythm of electronic conversations, emoji may be a useful precursor to reading — a way of acclimating kids to the digital reality of using symbols to communicate with people they care about.

4But let’s start with the survey results. Yes, many preliterate kids send emoji-only text messages, and ages three to five seems to be the peak time for them. They’re often quite elaborate. One five-year-old favored “any animal that pinches,” such as the following string:


5A five-and-a-half-year-old’s go-to emoji were “Animals, poo, unicorns, hearts.” A third kid of the same age was similar: “Unicorn. Poo. Lightning. Dinosaurs.” Younger kids didn’t have as clear preferences, but they were still emoji fans. Here’s a string of animals and hearts from a three-year-old:


6These emoji texts are adorable, but as a linguist, I’m interested in what kids are trying to communicate. Many kids seem to be working their way through the emoji keyboard systematically. For example, several kids put the blue heart right before the green heart, which is also the order that they appear in many emoji keyboard apps. However, kids are also willing to combine emoji from different sections, especially animals, foods, and hearts, which all appear in different screens of an emoji keyboard.

7One thing is very clear: The kids don’t use emoji like adults or teens do. Overall, the most popular emoji are the face, hand, and heart emoji (Medlock and McCullough). While the kids use faces and hearts, hand shapes — like thumbs up Image and prayer hands Image — are not at all common for the younger set. Conversely, the kids use object emoji, like food and animals, far more than adults or teens do. Both kids and adults like happy faces, but their other face preferences are different: Kids don’t use the faces that convey a note of irony, such as the otherwise-popular tears of joy Image, loudly sobbing face Image, or thinking face Image. Instead, kids prefer faces with the tongue stuck out Image or blowing a kiss Image.

8Kids also use emoji sequences differently. When mature emoji users use strings of emoji, they’re generally in groups of two to five, after a sequence of words, such as “I LITERALLY CAN’T HANDLE THIS Image ” or “omg i love you Image”. When adults or teens create extended emoji-only sequences, they typically impose some rules on themselves: Either they try to recount a story for someone else to guess — a kind of emoji charades — or they try to create something aesthetically pleasing, as emoji art.

9The kids, on the other hand, are less structured: The emoji take the form of a drawing, or a selection of stickers. The kids also tended to send longer messages, and were more likely to send the same emoji three or five or 20 times in a row.

10As the kids got older and learned how to read and write, their emoji messages grew more sophisticated. A six-year-old and a nearly-seven-year-old, both fluent readers, sent messages containing both semantically appropriate words and slightly less-random strings of emoji, such as:


11A few years later, kids seem to age out of the “strings of random emoji” phase entirely: a 10-year-old sent full English sentences, and her emoji-only messages used line breaks and spacing, to make sequences into borders and larger shapes, like a large face made out of face emoji. Several adults noted that their kids had simply stopped sending long emoji-filled messages once they learned how to read — surely reassuring for anyone who’s wondering about the future of the English language.

12What can we make of the long-term effect on children of sending emoji? The true effect of these texts may be bigger than any single message. Studies show that kids don’t acquire a language just from media exposure — they need a person to interact with, at least to start.

13In one study (Kuhl et al.), researchers had nine-month-olds from monolingual English-speaking households interact over four weeks with research assistants speaking Mandarin. The research assistants would speak normal child-directed Mandarin to the babies, reading them picture books in Mandarin and playing with a few toys. Sure enough, those kids showed better recognition of Mandarin sounds than a control group who had come in and played with an English speaker. But then, the researchers played a second set of babies video of the same research assistants reading the same books and playing with the same toys in Mandarin. Despite the fact that this group had received identical input to the first babies, the babies who’d listened to the recordings didn’t show any improvement on their ability to recognize Mandarin sounds.

14While kids who already speak a given language can learn words from watching children’s television programs, like Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, they don’t learn grammar or sounds from TV (Naigles and Mayeux 136, 141). And kids don’t learn much at all from children’s programming in a language they don’t already have real-life exposure to. There’s something really important about social interaction, and this carries over into emoji messages.

15Sending long strings of emoji could be like digital babbling: the nonsense strings that get us used to how our bodies work and how to take turns in a conversation. The adults texting the kids back sometimes replied with emoji, but many times they also replied with words (“Hahahaha. Dinos and dino food!”) or a mix of words and emoji — even when the child didn’t know how to read yet. Presumably, the other adult whose phone the kid was using would read the words aloud.

16Think what this is teaching kids about reading and writing. When I was a kid, the written word was a thing of picture books and stop signs and cereal boxes and ABC fridge magnets. Writing often came with colorful, child-friendly illustrations, but it wasn’t often created specifically for me. Writing was created by professionals or incorporated into a literacy lesson: Here’s a story about talking animals; here’s how you write your name. Writing wasn’t used to communicate with me — after all, why would my parents leave me a note before I could read it?

17Kids still get picture books read to them. But now that we all communicate in writing so much more often, kids also are read text messages. For a kid to get a text message written directly for them, and read directly to them, which they can reply to in some fashion, it teaches them something powerful about the written word — that it can be used to connect with people you care about.


✵ Kuhl, Patricia K., et al. “Foreign-Language Experience in Infancy: Effects of Short-Term Exposure and Social Interaction on Phonetic Learning.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, vol. 100, no. 15 (July 2003), pp. 9096—101,

✵ McCullough, Gretchen. “By popular demand, I’ve rustled us up a quick CHILD EMOJI AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION survey!” Twitter, 25 Oct. 2018, 4:25 p.m.,

✵ Medlock, Ben, and Gretchen McCullough. “The Linguistic Secrets Found in Billions of Emoji — SXSW Interactive 2016.” South by Southwest Festival, 12 Mar. 2016, Austin Convention Center. Soundcloud, 2016, Conference presentation.

✵ Miller, Lulu. “Guys, Guys, Guys. the 10 year old girl on my block just informed me that she texts with a 5 YEAR OLD, who is preliterate, + exclusively uses emojies to communicate. WTF? Have any linguists studied this phenomena + written weighty treatises about it? i want to know everything.” Twitter, 25 Oct. 2018, 3:15 p.m.,

✵ Naigles, Leticia R., and Lara Mayeux. “Television as Incidental Language Teacher.” In Singer, Dorothy G., and Jerome L. Singer. Handbook of Children and the Media, Sage Publications, 2001, pp. 135-52.

✵ Pardes, Arielle. “Academics Gathered to Share Emoji Research, and It Was Image.” Wired, 27 June 2018,

Understanding the Reading

1. Summarizing What are the main differences McCullough presents in emoji use of children versus that of adults?

2. Details What types of face emoji do children prefer?

3. Details Explain what the author means by “emoji charades” (para. 7).

4. Vocabulary Explain the meaning of each of the following words as it is used in the reading: corpus (para. 1), articulatory (3), precursor (3), linguist (5), and aesthetically (7).

Analyzing the Writer’s Technique

1. Introduction The essay begins with a tweet and an explanation of how that tweet prompted McCullough to conduct a study on how young children use emoji while texting. Why is this an effective introduction?

2. Audience What audience do you think McCullough is addressing in this selection? How do her examples address or appeal to this audience?

3. Conclusion McCullough’s poignant conclusion seems somewhat at odds with the playful tone of the rest of the essay. Is this change in tone appropriate, given what she says at the end of the essay?

Thinking Critically about Illustration

1. Inference What advice might McCullough give to parents about helping their children learn to communicate effectively?

2. Use of Visuals Many of the examples that the author includes are emoji themselves, often in strings. Evaluate how helpful such examples are in helping you understand emoji use.

3. Connotation In paragraph 2, the author uses the words charming and linguistically interesting, and in paragraph 5, she includes the phrase emoji texts are adorable, but as a linguist…. What impression does the author create through her choice of words in these paragraphs?

4. Alternative Examples McCullough uses mostly scientific research and examples from children to support her thesis. What other types of evidence might she have included?

Responding to the Reading

1. Discussion What do you think about children ages three to five texting emoji? Who do you think they text? What do you think they text about? Is there any benefit to this activity or is it just child’s play? Could it possibly be harmful? What does the author think about this practice? Do you know any very young children who text?

2. Journal If you had to summarize this reading using only emoji, what emoji would you use? Create a string of ten emoji related to this reading and explain the meaning of each.

3. Essay Write an essay in which you discuss both the benefits and the drawbacks of using emoji in your written communication.

Working Together

Although the title of this essay, “Using Emoji for Digital-Age Language Learning,” accurately reflects the content, a different title could do more to spark readers’ interest. In small groups, come up with a list of at least three alternative titles for this selection. (Hint: Recall the suggestions for writing a good title in Chapter 7, such as asking a question that the essay answers, using alliteration, and creating a play on words.)


In “Using Emoji for Digital-Age Language Learning,” McCullough uses research to explain how emojis may allow young children to communicate in writing with those with whom they have relationships. Other researchers have also studied this phenomenon. Some reports about this research include the following:

✵ “Why I Use Emoji in Research and Teaching” by Jennifer Fane, a lecturer in health and early childhood education at Flinders University in Australia (The Conversation, 2017)

✵ “Talking to Children about Technology” by Playful Learning, a studio offering educational enrichment to preschool and elementary school children (2019)

✵ “We Wouldn’t Feed Our Kids Junk Food. So Why Let Them Use Emojis?” by Laura Freeman (The Spectator, 12 May 2018)

Using your own ideas and one or more of the selections listed here, write a thoughtful illustration essay that goes beyond “Using Emoji for Digital-Age Language Learning.” Be sure to include at least one quotation from one of the readings and to cite it correctly at the end of the essay.

The Guided Writing Assignment in this chapter can walk you through the process of writing an illustration essay; for help with evaluating sources, see Chapter 21; for help choosing and synthesizing ideas from sources, see Chapter 22; for help with documenting sources, see Chapter 23.


Why Walking Helps Us Think

Ferris Jabr

Ferris Jabr is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing series, and he has worked as a staff editor at Scientific American, where he is now a contributing writer. He has also written for publications including The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Slate, and The New Yorker, where this essay originally appeared. Before reading, preview the essay and make connections by thinking about benefits you notice when you go for a walk. While reading, identify the examples Jabr uses to support his thesis and consider how effectively they support his generalization.


Organizing Cause-and-Effect Relationships

Although this is an illustration essay, Jabr also uses cause and effect to explain how walking helps us. To comprehend and clarify these relationships, make marginal notes identifying the causes and effects discussed in paragraphs 2, 3, 7, and 9. (The first one for para. 2 has been done for you; it contains numerous cause-and-effect relationships.)


Causes or Effects


Walking changes our body rhythms (heart rate, circulation, etc.), improves memory and attention, promotes connections among brain cells, increases hippocampus volume, and stimulates neuron growth.




1Since at least the time of peripatetic Greek philosophers, many other writers have discovered a deep, intuitive connection between walking, thinking, and writing. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!” Henry David Thoreau penned in his journal. “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” Thomas DeQuincey has calculated that William Wordsworth — whose poetry is filled with tramps up mountains, through forests, and along public roads — walked as many as a hundred and eighty thousand miles in his lifetime, which comes to an average of six and a half miles a day starting from age five.

2What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs — including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention (Voss et al.). Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections (Erickson, Mark I., et al.) between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age (Erickson, K. I., et al.), increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them (Segal, S. K., et al.).

3The way we move our bodies further changes the nature of our thoughts, and vice versa. Psychologists who specialize in exercise music have quantified what many of us already know (Karageorghis and Priest): listening to songs with high tempos motivates us to run faster, and the swifter we move, the quicker we prefer our music (Barney et al.). Likewise, when drivers hear loud, fast music, they unconsciously step a bit harder on the gas pedal (Warren). Walking at our own pace creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of our bodies and our mental state that we cannot experience as easily when we’re jogging at the gym, steering a car, biking, or during any other kind of locomotion. When we stroll, the pace of our feet naturally vacillates with our moods and the cadence of our inner speech; at the same time, we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down.

4Because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to the act of walking, our attention is free to wander — to overlay the world before us with a parade of images from the mind’s theatre. This is precisely the kind of mental state that studies have linked to innovative ideas and strokes of insight. Earlier this year, Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz of Stanford published what is likely the first set of studies that directly measure the way walking changes creativity in the moment. They got the idea for the studies while on a walk. “My doctoral advisor had the habit of going for walks with his students to brainstorm,” Oppezzo says of Schwartz. “One day we got kind of meta.”

5In a series of four experiments, Oppezzo and Schwartz asked a hundred and seventy-six college students to complete different tests of creative thinking while either sitting, walking on a treadmill, or sauntering through Stanford’s campus. In one test, for example, volunteers had to come up with atypical uses for everyday objects, such as a button or a tire. On average, the students thought of between four and six more novel uses for the objects while they were walking than when they were seated. Another experiment required volunteers to contemplate a metaphor, such as “a budding cocoon,” and generate a unique but equivalent metaphor, such as “an egg hatching.” Ninety-five percent of students who went for a walk were able to do so, compared to only fifty percent of those who never stood up. But walking actually worsened people’s performance on a different type of test, in which students had to find the one word that united a set of three, like “cheese” for “cottage, cream, and cake.” Oppezzo speculates that, by setting the mind adrift on a frothing sea of thought, walking is counterproductive to such laser-focused thinking: “If you’re looking for a single correct answer to a question, you probably don’t want all of these different ideas bubbling up.”

6Where we walk matters as well. In a study led by Marc Berman of the University of South Carolina, students who ambled through an arboretum improved their performance on a memory test more than students who walked along city streets. A small but growing collection of studies suggests that spending time in green spaces — gardens, parks, forests — can rejuvenate the mental resources that manmade environments deplete.

7Psychologists have learned that attention is a limited resource that continually drains throughout the day. A crowded intersection — rife with pedestrians, cars, and billboards — bats our attention around. In contrast, walking past a pond in a park allows our mind to drift casually from one sensory experience to another, from wrinkling water to rustling reeds.

8Still, urban and pastoral walks likely offer unique advantages for the mind. A walk through a city provides more immediate stimulation — a greater variety of sensations for the mind to play with. But, if we are already at the brink of overstimulation, we can turn to nature instead. Virginia Woolf relished the creative energy of London’s streets, describing it in her diary as “being on the highest crest of the biggest wave, right in the centre & swim of things.” But she also depended on her walks through England’s South Downs to “have space to spread my mind out in” (Dobbs). And, in her youth, she often travelled to Cornwall for the summer, where she loved to “spend my afternoons in solitary trampling” through the countryside (Dobbs).

9Perhaps the most profound relationship between walking, thinking, and writing reveals itself at the end of a stroll, back at the desk. There, it becomes apparent that writing and walking are extremely similar feats, equal parts physical and mental. When we choose a path through a city or forest, our brain must survey the surrounding environment, construct a mental map of the world, settle on a way forward, and translate that plan into a series of footsteps. Likewise, writing forces the brain to review its own landscape, plot a course through that mental terrain, and transcribe the resulting trail of thoughts by guiding the hands. Walking organizes the world around us; writing organizes our thoughts.


✵ Barney, David, et al. “College Students’ Usage of Personal Music Players (PMP) during Exercise.” ICHPER-SD Journal of Research, vol. 7, no. 1 (2012), pp. 23—26,

✵ Berman, Marc G., et al. “The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting with Nature.” Psychological Science, vol. 19, no. 12 (Dec. 2008), pp. 1207—12, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02225.x.

✵ Dobbs, David. “Virginia Woolf Takes a Walk, Finds a Novel.” Neuron Culture, 4 June 2014,

✵ Erickson, K. I., et al. “Physical Activity Predicts Gray Matter Volume in Late Adulthood.” Neurology, vol. 75, no. 16 (2010), pp. 1415—22, doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181f88359.

✵ Erickson, Mark I., et al. “Exercise Training Increases Size of Hippocampus and Improves Memory.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 108, no. 7, pp. 3017—22, doi:10.1073/pnas.1015950108.

✵ Karageorghis, Costas I., and David-Lee Priest. “Music in the Exercise Domain: A Review and Synthesis.” International Review of Sport Exercise Psychology, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 67—84, doi:10.1080/1750984X.2011.631027.

✵ Oppezzo, Marily, and Daniel L. Schwartz. “Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, vol. 40, no. 4 (2014), pp. 1142—52, doi: 10.1037/a0036577.

✵ Segal, S. K., et al. “Exercise-Induced Noradrenergic Activation Enhances Memory Consolidation in Both Normal Aging Patients with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment.” Journal of Alzheimers Disease, vol. 32, no. 4 (2012), pp. 1011—18, doi:10.3233/JAD-2012-121078.

✵ Voss, M. W., et al. “Plasticity of Brain Networks in a Randomized Intervention Trial of Exercise Training in Older Adults.” Front Aging Neuroscience, vol. 32 (2010), doi:10.3389/fnagi.2010.00032.

✵ Warren, Brodsky. “The Effects of Music Tempo on Simulated Driving Performance and Vehicular Control.” Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, vol. 4, no. 4 (2001), pp. 219—41, doi:10.1016/S1369-8478(01)00025-0.

✵ Woolf, Virginia. “[Sunday 5 September 1926.]” Woolf Online, edited by Pamela L. Caughie, et al., 2016,

Understanding the Reading

1. Summarizing Briefly explain the changes to our body chemistry that result from walking.

2. Detail What have psychologists discovered about the effects of music?

3. Detail How does location affect our thinking when we walk?

4. Vocabulary Explain the meaning of each of the following words as it is used in the reading: peripatetic (para. 1), amenable (2), vacillates (3), cadence (3), and rejuvenate (6).

Analyzing the Writer’s Technique

1. Introduction Why does the author mention Thoreau and Wordsworth in the introduction?

2. Thesis Express Jabr’s thesis in your own words. Is it stated directly in the essay or only implied?

3. Audience What audience do you think Jabr is addressing in this selection? How do his examples address or appeal to this audience?

Thinking Critically about Illustration

1. Connotation What is the connotation of ambled (para. 6)? Is Jabr using it to mean something positive or negative?

2. Sources Jabr’s examples are drawn primarily from university studies. How trustworthy do you consider these sources of information? What other source types could Jabr have used to give alternative viewpoints?

3. Examples Evaluate the effectiveness of the examples in this selection. Does Jabr provide a variety of relevant and useful examples to support his thesis?

4. Meaning What does the author mean when he says that walking “creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of our bodies and our mental state”? How is it possible to change the pace of our thoughts?

Responding to the Reading

1. Reaction Jabr quotes the writer Virginia Woolf (para. 8) as relishing the “creative energy” of the city while depending on walks in the countryside for “space to spread my mind out in.” Where do you go to find creative energy or mental stimulation? Where do you go to rejuvenate your mental resources?

2. Journal Aside from the physical effects of walking described in the selection, how does walking affect you? If you typically do not walk, how do other forms of exercise affect your mental state? Write a journal entry describing the effects of walking or exercise on your thinking and your writing.

3. Essay Jabr compares writing and walking as “equal parts physical and mental.” Consider the mental map you create when you walk from class to home, then write an essay giving examples of that landscape. Describe your path from your starting point to your destination, and give examples of landmarks and points of interest along the way.

Working Together

Imagine that you have been asked to help promote a walking trail system that goes around and through your campus or your town. Working with a partner, create a list of “talking points” to highlight the benefits of walking in both green spaces and urban environments. If you know the area well enough, suggest pathways that would offer stimulation and/or rejuvenation for people walking along the trail. Be prepared to share your work with the class.


In “Why Walking Helps Us Think,” Jabr uses research to explain the connection among walking, thinking, and creativity. Other researchers have also studied the benefits of walking and other types of exercise. Reports about the emotional, physical, and psychological benefits of exercise include the following:

✵ “This Is the One Simple Act That Helps Me Be More Creative” by Samantha Radocchia (Fast Company, 2019)

✵ “The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise” by Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, PhD, and Melinda Smith, MA (Help Guide, June 2019)

✵ “Walking and Moderate Exercise Boost Your Mental and Physical Health” by Suzanne Kane (Psych Central, 14 February 2019)

Using your own ideas and one or more of the selections listed here, write a thoughtful illustration essay that goes beyond what the article tells and presents other information and examples of the relationship between exercise and healthy living. Be sure to include at least one quotation from one of the readings and to cite it correctly at the end of the essay.

The Guided Writing Assignment in this chapter can walk you through the process of writing an illustration essay. For help with evaluating sources, see Chapter 21; for help choosing and synthesizing ideas from sources, see Chapter 22; for help with documenting sources, see Chapter 23.

Apply Your Skills: Additional Essay Assignments

Using what you learned about illustration in this chapter, write an illustration essay on one of the topics below. Depending on the topic you choose, you may need to conduct library or Internet research.

For more on locating and documenting sources, see Part 5.

To Express Your Ideas

1. In an article for the campus newspaper, explain what you consider to be the three most important qualities of a college instructor. Support your opinion with vivid examples from your experience.

2. Explain to a general audience the role played by grandparents within a family, citing examples from your own family or other families you know well.

3. Write an essay discussing how one aspect of your life has changed (or how some aspect of life in your community has changed) as a result of a natural disaster (such as a flood), political event (an election), or health crisis (a pandemic). Support your ideas with examples that illustrate the changes you experienced or observed.

To Inform Your Reader

4. In “Rambos of the Road,” Martin Gottfried explains the concept of “auto macho,” also known as “road rage,” using examples from his own experience. Explain the concept of peer pressure, using examples from your experience.

5. Describe to an audience of college students the qualities or achievements you think should be emphasized during job interviews. Give examples that show why the qualities or achievements you choose are important to potential employers.

To Persuade Your Reader

6. Argue for or against an increased emphasis on physical education in public schools. Your audience is your local school committee.

7. In a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, argue for or against the establishment of a neighborhood watch group.

Cases Using Illustration

8. Prepare an oral presentation you will give to your local town board to convince board members to lower the speed limit on your street. Use examples as well as other types of evidence.

9. Write a letter to the parents of three-year-old children who will begin attending your day care center this year, explaining how they can prepare their children for the day care experience. Support your advice with brief but relevant examples.



Both “American Jerk: Be Civil, or I’ll Beat You to a Pulp” and “Rambos of the Road” deal with bad behavior and incivility.

Analyzing the Readings

1. What types of behaviors does each reading address? Compare the authors’ attitudes toward these behaviors.

2. Write a journal entry comparing the techniques that each author uses to support his thesis, especially considering the tone of each. Which is more effective? Explain your choice.

Essay Idea

Choose a public setting or forum in which selfish behavior and a lack of civility are evident to you. Write an essay illustrating the behavior.