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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Helpful Tips

31 Jul 2018Essay Writing Guides

Below you will find all the answers you’ve been searching for about rhetoric, as well as helpful tips on how to compose a rhetorical analysis essay.

What is a Rhetorical Analysis?

Before we even get into analysis, you have to know what rhetoric is! Rhetoric is the study of how writers and speakers use words to influence an audience. They influence an audience by appealing to these three characteristics:

Pathos: Appeals to an audience’s emotions.

Ethos: The author using his credibility and background to gain approval.

Logos: Using reason to win favor or gain approval.

There are many mediums by which a rhetorician can use these three types of appeal. He can do it in the written form by authoring an article or a book; he can also do so verbally by giving speeches; or he can do it visually with cartoons or films with interesting dialogue.

rhetorical analysis essay

Now that you have a general idea about what rhetoric is, now we can get into rhetorical analysis. Simply put, rhetorical analysis is when you study how a rhetorician uses words and influence an audience, and as a researcher, make the determination of whether or not the rhetorician was successful.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

Now that you know what rhetoric is, you need to know how to write a rhetorical analysis. In some respects, it’s like writing an essay, but below are some points you should focus on in your writing:

  • Purpose
  • Research
  • Pre-Writing
  • Outlining
  • Writing and Style
  • Proofreading
  • Formatting and Citation

This guide will elaborate on each of these points so that you have a clear idea of what is expected of you when you are creating your composition.

What Is the Purpose of Your Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

Ask yourself why you are writing; what is your goal? How are you going to communicate your ideas to your audience? Your goal should be to get the highest grade possible on your assignment, and to do that you are going to keep in mind that the professor is your audience.

The fact that your professor is your audience makes things easier to some degree, because you know what he expects from you. Most likely he has either given you written or verbal instructions detailing the format he wants you to use or the question he wants you to answer.

Don’t deviate from the professor’s rules, no matter how stupid you think there are. Half the trick in college is learning how to follow instructions, and if you can do that, you’re halfway there to getting a high grade.

Doing Research for Your Rhetorical Paper

Now that you know the purpose of your work, now comes the task of researching the topic. Your topic is almost 100 percent likely to be a book or speech, or some other medium for conveying ideas. In order to do your research properly, you are going to actively read the work you are studying, analyzing the author’s use of words and his appeals to pathos, ethos, and logos.

In order to get a complete picture of the author’s work, you not only have to analyze the work, but you must also understand the context in which it was written, especially if you are analyzing something written hundreds of years ago. You also must understand the author himself. For example, if you are writing a rhetorical analysis about Sir Winston Churchill’s speeches, you should develop a good understanding about Churchill’s life and his family background, as well as a good understanding of the British Empire and the Second World War. Taking the time to understand the historical context of the subject of your essay will only serve to improve your composition.

Pre-Writing for Your Project

All good essayists pre-write before they even begin to think about creating a draft or outlining their composition, so you should do this, too. This will help you to develop ideas for your paper.

After you have completed your research, you should have a fairly good idea of what you want your essay will be about; however, your thoughts are probably disorganized and all over the place. You can organize all of those different thoughts by recording every single one on a piece of paper. Sit down, pull out a blank page, and scribble down every single thought, word, or idea related to your project that comes to mind. Before you know it, you will have a long list of material for your essay.

Once you are done writing, look through the notes you’ve jotted down and eliminate the words and phrases that you think won’t help you, and keep all the rest. Then try to organize this material into coherent sentences and even paragraphs. These will form the meat and potatoes of your essay!

How to Make a Rhetorical Analysis Outline

Creating a good structure and outline for your paper is one of the most important steps in the process of essay writing, because it helps you to stay organized and on task, and it helps you to avoid writing superfluous text. Your outline should contain the following three sections:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis Statement
  • Main Body
  • Conclusion

Your introduction is meant to introduce a topic to your reader that he might not be familiar with. Within your introductory paragraph is a thesis statement that surmises your opinion about the topic being discussed in your paper.

Your thesis is the main argument you are trying to make in your composition. Is it your position that the analyzed work is good? If so, then in the thesis section of your outline, write in plain language your opinion.

The main body is where you will support the stated in your thesis position. Put down, in short sentences, that are to the point, every idea you intend to use to support thesis in the order you want them to appear.

In the conclusion, end your essay, stating why your argument matters. Scribble down whatever ideas you have to support your conclusion in short sentences.

Remember, when outlining, use plain language. Do not compose entire sentences and paragraphs.

Writing and Style

Now that you have an outline, get down to creating your task. Your outline will make writing much easier on you, because it will serve as a step-by-step map that takes you to the end of the road. Each short sentence can be expanded into one paragraph or multiple paragraphs depending on its complexity.

When expanding the sentences, created in your outline, be sure to use words that will allow a transition from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. If you don’t use transition words, your text will be blocky and clunky.

Once you start your essay, there is no need to do it all in one sitting, or even on the same day. Give yourself enough time and do a little bit every day, or if there is only a day for it, give yourself breaks and time to rest.

Keep in mind that you should use an appropriate style for your composition. Do not use first person pronouns; instead, use third person pronouns. Words like I, you, and me are completely unacceptable in this form of academic writing.

Proofreading Your Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Like any type of essay, a rhetorical paper must be proofread and edited for mistakes. Once you are finished with writing your composition, read through it and eliminate any spelling and grammar errors, as well stylistic mistakes. Never turn in an unedited task, because it is guaranteed to have some errors, no matter how good of an essayist you are.

It also does not hurt to have a fresh pair of eyes to look at your paper. Most likely your professor has office hours where students can come visit. You can always have your professor look at your paper and give you advice.

Rhetorical Analysis Format and Citation

Every paper have to be formatted in accordance with the instructions of your professor. Most likely he assigned a format, such as MLA, Harvard, or Chicago. Follow this format to the letter and don’t choose a format not specified by your professor. Doing so will often result in receiving a failing grade, no matter brilliantly is written your essay.

In addition to formatting the text of your essay, you must also be sure to format your bibliography in accordance with the formatting style you’ve been assigned or chosen.

Now You Know How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Paper!

Composing a rhetorical analysis will be much easier now that you are armed with these writing strategies. Remember that although these writing tasks are difficult, they are not impossible to complete, so long as you use our tricks of the trade. But, if feeling like these endless essays are becoming too much, and you have more important things to do, you can hire an essay writer from EduBirdie who can help complete your assignment or get free rhetorical analysis examples!

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