How to write an effective rhetorical analysis paper: Appeals and techniques

rhetorical analysis

For most students, writing skills are an essential foundation for educational success. One of the most challenging writing assignments is a rhetorical essay. A rhetorical essay requires more than research, you must have knowledge of logos, ethos, and other rhetorical appeals to convince your readers to accept your point of view. A rhetorical analysis paper can be a daunting task for beginners. Here are some of the tricks and tips to get you started on your rhetorical analysis paper:

What Makes a Rhetorical Analysis Paper?

According to Stanford Education, rhetorical analysis is about breaking down and examining the discourse in the paper. The main focus is not on the content but on how the author informs, persuades, and entertains the reader. Authors use different strategies to achieve their goals. Thus, a rhetorical analysis paper identifies the writing style and point of view.

As the author, you must be knowledgeable of the different methods of persuasion and how to use them effectively.  A perfect example of a rhetorical analysis is a public speech. The speaker must carefully craft every session to appeal to the listeners.

Preparing your Rhetorical Analysis Paper

The effective preparation is necessary. You need to write an attention-grabbing introduction to catch the attention of your readers from the beginning.  Use SOAPS in your introduction.

SOAPS is an acronym for subject, occasion, audience, purpose, and speaker.  Focus on a subject of interest. You are likely to write a very convincing piece if you are interested in the subject. The second aspect of SOAPS is occasion.

As a writer, you must think of the occasion, which is the thing that prompts you to write the paper apart from it being an assignment. Come up with different scenarios in your head before settling on the best occasion.

As you prepare to write the essay, think of how you will bring all the different pieces together. Think about the subject, what you want the audience to know about the subject, how the audience will receive it, and how to deliver it best.

Knowledge of the Persuasion Tactics


To communicate your message to the target audience, you must be aware of the rhetorical means. There are three persuasive strategies to get your point across:

  • Ethos appeals, and it is founded on the speaker’s reliability. For example, a doctor is a credible person to recommend a drug for your illness. To build credibility as a speaker, rely on your personal experience with the subject to show that you are knowledgeable.
  • Pathos is an appeal to the emotions of the readers. As a speaker/writer, you must arouse the emotions of the readers to achieve the intended purpose. You can get the audience to agree with you; you can get the audience to understand or even enraged through pathos.
  • Logos appeals to reason and logical thinking. It is based on pure statistics and professional opinion. For example, when your audience is a knowledgeable group, you can convince them better using statistics and professional opinion about the subject. Logos is guaranteed to give you a strong argument for your rhetorical analysis paper.

Organize your Work


Like any other writing assignment, come up with an outline to guide you. The outline will provide sequential progress for your work.  The introduction sets the tone for the entire paper, and it must give a preview of what it is the body paragraphs. Create a thesis statement to narrow down your argument.  Your thesis statement must be clear to your audience.

A short rhetorical analysis paper must have at least a three-body paragraphs with the main argument. Use the body paragraphs to support your thesis statement. Use credible, time-tested ideas and original content to support your argument.

If you run out of ideas, include opposing views and use strong evidence to dispute it. Us the three rhetorical appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos to organize your argument. The main goal is to give facts, but you can fortify them using ethos and pathos.

The conclusion is a chance to end the paper on a high note. Summarize all your points concisely in your conclusion. Rephrase your thesis and your main arguments.

Read Through your Paper


Once you have written your five-paragraph rhetorical analysis paper, it is time to analyze your paper with a critical eye. Ask yourself if the introduction is not riveting enough or it is short. Are your arguments convincing enough, or you have to add on to them? Do the body paragraphs entail logos, ethos, and pathos? Did you use enough examples, quotes and statistics to support your argument? Does the conclusion leave an impact on the audience’s mind?

Final Tips for your Rhetorical Analysis Paper

Pay close attention to your thesis and supporting arguments. Keep your own voice as you try to support your thesis using facts and rhetorical appeals. A rhetorical analysis paper is not a research paper; it has room for emotional appeals. You can also check nature vs nurture essay, how to write reflective essays and how to write an effective response paper.

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