The internet is full of an overwhelming amount of information. Some of the information is trustworthy, and some of it is not. A lot of websites are full of people voicing their opinions but not making any fact-based arguments. When writers need to craft a credible argument or a detailed research paper, it can be difficult to know where to start finding trustworthy facts. Understanding what facts are, how to cite them, and how they differ from opinions and truths is a good place to start.

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Table of contents

    Fact, internet, StudySmarter

    Fig. 1 - With so much information on the internet, it can be hard to determine fact from fiction.

    Definition of Fact

    A fact is a real and indisputable piece of information. For something to be considered a fact, it has to be proven.

    A fact is a statement that is verifiably and objectively real.

    Writers use facts all of the time to enhance their writing. When writers include facts, they show the reader their knowledge of the topic. It is particularly effective for writers to use facts when making an argument, as facts can help prove the main points to their readers.

    For example, imagine a writer is writing an essay in which they want to convince the reader to recycle more. The writer can say that recycling is important—but that is not enough information to convince someone. Instead, they need to explain why recycling is important. To effectively make this point, it is helpful to use facts about the power of recycling.

    For example, if they researched and referenced statistical facts about how recycling addresses global warming, they would show the reader that recycling is important because it makes a difference in cleaning up the planet.

    Characteristics of Facts

    With so much information on the internet, people must understand how to identify credible facts and differentiate them from false information. There are several characteristics of facts that can help writers identify facts. For instance:

    • A fact is something real.

    • A fact is proven to be correct.

    • A fact is based on indisputable experience or observation.

    When attempting to discern if a statement is a fact or false information, readers can ask themselves the following questions:

    • Is the source of this claim trustworthy?

    • If I research this claim can I find evidence?

    • Does this claim reflect personal feelings or bias?

    Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if a source is trustworthy. Generally, if the URL of a source on the web ends in .org, .edu, or .gov it can generally be assumed to be trustworthy. Additionally, the information is trustworthy if a website cites a credible source. In contrast, claims found on forums, social media sites, or other informal web pages that do not cite sources should be fact-checked.

    Examples of Fact

    There are several examples of facts. Often when people think about facts, they think about statistics or math. Facts can be mathematic, but facts can also be scientific, historical, or merely observed. For instance, people often ask others to tell them fun facts about themselves!

    Additionally, the following statements are all examples of facts:

    • The boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius.

    • 2 + 2 = 4

    • George Washington was the first president of the United States of America.

    • This sentence contains five words.

    • This article is about facts.

    Note that all of the above statements are verifiably true. Without evidence, however, they could not be considered facts.


    When writing an academic paper, speech, or non-fiction, writers must fact-check their work. Fact-checking is the process of verifying that information is factual. When writers fact-check their work, they ensure they are writing trustworthy, credible information.

    Fact, Fact-Checking, StudySmarter Fig. 2 - Fact-checking and referencing ensure credible writing.

    Fact-checking is important no matter the circumstances, but it is especially important in politics. When people run for political offices, like the president of the United States, journalists fact-check what they say in their speeches and debates. If the candidates make up information or share false information, journalists tell the public, and the news can hurt the candidates’ credibility. Fact-checking what influential people say helps hold them accountable to the people they serve and helps to ensure a free, honest society.


    When writers use facts from other sources in their writing, they are required to cite the sources of those facts. Citing the sources of facts helps writers maintain credibility, helps readers find more information on a topic, and ensures writers avoid plagiarism—the act of stealing another's work and passing it off as their own. To properly cite a source, the writer should note the formatting guidelines of the work, such as MLA and APA, and structure the references according to the style guide.

    For example, the APA style guide requires writers to put references at the end of every sentence with outside information and include the author's last name and the year of publication. The APA guide also requires writers to include an alphabetized list of all references at the end of their paper.

    Reference style guides are updated periodically. When writing references, writers should always double-check that they are using the most recent formatting guidelines for the style guide.

    Facts vs Opinions

    The difference between facts and opinions is essential, especially when working to support an argument in an essay. Facts are statements that can be objectively proven, while opinions reflect personal and subjective feelings.

    For instance, when writing a literary analysis essay, a writer might be tempted to write something like:

    The author did an awesome job writing about the main character."

    However, this statement would be an opinion because the idea that the author's job was "awesome" is subjective and may vary depending on the reader. Instead, writers writing academic essays need to stick to facts to support their argument. For instance, a writer should instead state an example of a fact:

    The author used several metaphors to describe the main character effectively."

    This would be a fact because the writer would be able to point out metaphors in the text that prove this.

    Fact, facts versus opinions, StudySmarter

    Fig. 3 - It is important to know the difference between fact and opinion. Facts can be supported with evidence while opinions reflect personal feelings.

    Differences Between Fact and Truth

    The words "fact" and "truth" are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Facts have a real or logical form. This means you cannot use "fact" to refer to people's beliefs and feelings about the world.

    The word "truth" refers to things that accord with facts; however, it can also refer to people's feelings. For example, take people who practice a particular religion. They believe the teachings of that religion to be the truth. However, those teachings cannot be fact, as there is no indisputable evidence that they are real.

    Remember: facts have to be proven.

    Fact - Key Takeaways

    • A fact is a statement that is verifiably real. A fact is different from an opinion because facts can be proven, while opinions reflect personal feelings.
    • An example of a fact is that Alaska and Wisconsin are two of seven states in the United States with the most amount of lakes.
    • "Fact" is different from "truth" because truth takes into account personal thoughts that are not indisputable.
    • Writers use facts to support their arguments, make their writing credible, and provide readers with other sources of information.
    • Writers should always fact-check their information to ensure their writing is trustworthy.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Fact

    What is a random fact?

    The oldest person alive is currently 118 years old!

    What is a fact in simple words?

    A fact is a statement that is verifiably real.

    What is an example of fact?

    An example of a fact is that George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. 

    What are the characteristics of fact?

    The characteristics of a fact involve how facts are statements that are real. They are based on evidence, experience, or observation. They can be proven. 

    What is fact vs truth?

    Facts are based on verifiable evidence while truth can also refer to personal beliefs. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What is a fact?

    Which of the following is not a characteristic of a fact?

    What should writers always do when they use facts?


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