Answered By: Jonathan Faerber
Last Updated: Apr 06, 2021     Views: 18

Common knowledge refers to widely believed statements of fact; put simply: it is knowledge shared by most members of a community. For example, throughout the 20th century, most Canadians were likely aware that the penny depicted a maple branch, since they each used the penny coin on a near daily basis (Royal Canadian Mint, n.d.-a). Now (in 2021), Canadians no longer use the penny coin as part of their currency, so the belief that the coin depicts a maple branch is no longer as widely shared as it once was (Royal Canadian Mint, n.d.-b). In this way, what counts as common knowledge for a community in 2021 is different than what counted as common knowledge for a community in 1921, even within the same geographical region. Since common knowledge is determined in reference to a specific community, what counts as a case of common knowledge for one community may need be explained to members of other communities. To help your audience understand your writing, please cite sources for facts that are not known by the community you are writing for and for more information, please see the resources and explanation of Common Knowledge on the Writing Centre website.


Royal Canadian Mint. (n.d.-a). A national symbol--the 1-cent coin.

Royal Canadian Mint. (n.d.-b). Phasing out the penny.