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Detailed Guide on Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Outline

November 16, 2020

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A rhetorical analysis essay is the most common assignment for those students who study literature. This is the essay in which you write about someone else’s text. To write a proper rhetorical analysis essay, you are supposed to read and analyze the text revealing such techniques as ethos, logos, and pathos. You are supposed to identify persuasion strategies, including phrases and words. When it comes to rhetorical analysis, it is crucial to employ your critical thinking and reading skills. The most common materials for analysis are speeches or articles of famous people with powerful ideas.

What is a Rhetorical Analysis?

Before we explain how to write an outline, let’s talk about what rhetorical analysis is. As you may know, rhetoric is a mastery of persuasion. Analysis implies dissecting the whole into fragments and examining them. Rhetorical analysis is not only about restating ideas or mare summary. Your task is to identify the rhetorical techniques used by the author to convince the audience of something. 

In today’s world, it can be difficult to distinguish rhetorical technique from manipulation. Nevertheless, if you understand rhetorical strategies, it will help you to filter the surrounding information better. That is to say, rhetoric may be used for manipulating people, but when you know what those strategies are, you will be more critical with the information instead of mindlessly accepting everything that you see, hear or read.

How to Do a Rhetorical Analysis

If we are talking about rhetorical analysis, the major point is to provide clarification on what is occurring in the text, why certain moves were used by the author, and how that impacts those who read or hear it. In most cases, a rhetorical analysis is explanatory. However, you may provide some arguments and negotiate with the author’s choices.

To do a proper rhetorical analysis, you need to assess the text’s rhetorical situation. This is the context out of which the author creates the text. Your next task is to read and summarize the content. Describe the thesis and major points of the text before you proceed to the analysis. After this, you should link the rhetorical situation with the text. Use questions to break down the text:

  • Is the author successful in supporting his or her thesis? 
  • Does the author use strong evidence? How will the audience react?
  • What rhetorical tactics does the author employ? What are words or phrases related to the author’s purpose?
  • Is the author’s tone friendly or authoritative? Does it resemble a lecture? Maybe you can identify sarcasm? What tactics are used to create a specific tone?
  • What language is used in the text? Is it positive or negative? Does the author use simple words or jargon?
  • Does the author attempt to convince you of his or her point of view? Is the author biased or objective?
  • What is the author’s audience? Are the readers or listeners like you, or are they different?
  • Is the author’s reasoning logical? Does the text have a smooth flow? Can you find any gaps in it?
  • Does the author attempt to appeal to your feelings and emotions? Are there controversial phrases or words in the text you analyze?

These simple questions will be helpful in the process of analysis. You will know what to look for in the text and won’t miss anything important.

Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Outline

If you want your rhetorical analysis essay outline to be good, it is crucial to learn how to read and analyze the text at the same time. You need to pay attention to the author’s personality, his or her audience, the main purpose of the piece, and the setting. Similar to other essay types, in your rhetorical analysis essay, you are supposed to express your opinion and persuade the reader that your arguments are strong. You need to earn the readers’ trust. Prove that you wholly comprehend the text – provide a simple summary and explain what you have read with your own words. 

When it comes to a rhetorical analysis essay, we analyze a specific text using the following rhetorical appeals: ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos is about the author’s credibility, background, lineage, expertise, and achievements.

Pathos concerns the emotional appeal. Most of the time, writers appeal to the emotions and feelings of the audience. They provoke feelings of sympathy or pity, sometimes anger towards the discussed subject.

Logos is a tactic that is supposed to bring up reasoning and apply logic. This can be done through statistical data, facts, and analogies.

Below you will find a format that you can use to prepare your essay’s outline.

How to Format an Outline

  • Introduction

This will be the opening paragraph of your rhetorical analysis. Make it informative and at the same time as concise and straightforward as possible. Leave the in-depth analysis of the body paragraphs. In this step, you should introduce the writer and the literature piece you are going to analyze. Apart from that, in the opening or the closing sentence of the introduction, clearly state your thesis using who, what, why, and how questions. The readers should figure out the overall mood of your essay. Try your best to make them interested and encourage reading the entire text. Prove that your rhetorical analysis will be enlightening. 

  • Body paragraphs

This is the main part of your analysis, which you will derive from the rhetorical appeals we mentioned before. In the body, concentrate on informative paragraphs. Each paragraph in the body should have a specific point. As the main points, you will describe the author’s methods of supporting his thesis. It is a good idea to use quotes from the text to support your points.

It is crucial to write clearly and consistently. A properly organized structure is like a recipe for success. Beginners often try to gather all the points in the same paragraph, but you should discuss all matters in separate paragraphs, without jamming them together. Use the following points:

  1. The effectiveness of the strategy in the text
  2. How does this approach work with examples?
  3. Why does the writer use a certain technique?
  4. Describe what effect this strategy has on the readers. How does the audience feel and react?

We recommend using a dictionary if there are complicated words or phrases. Also, make sure that you use proper citations in your essay.

  • Conclusion

Similar to the introduction paragraph, this segment should provide information about the text you analyzed. The conclusion normally sums up the main points presented in the body paragraphs. It also explains how the writer changes the readers’ point of view or what impact he inflicts on people. Do not forget to relate the thesis to your main points.

Rhetorical Analysis Outline Template

Here is a helpful template for your rhetorical analysis outline:

Introduction:

  1. Provide the title of the literature piece and tell who the author is.
  2. What is the text’s main purpose? Reveal the major idea of the work.
  3. Say how the writer communicates his message.
  4. What is the target audience of this text?
  5. What is the context? Provide the information on the date of publication and the publisher.
  6. State your thesis. Do you think the text is good? Does the author convey his ideas in a clear way? The thesis should be included in the introduction’s ending.

Body:

  1. First, summarize all the major points of the text in one paragraph.
  2. Refer to ethos. What do you think of the credibility of the author? What is his expertise?
  3. Then there is pathos. Explain how the author appeals to the audience’s feelings or emotions? Find pathos in the text and list the examples.
  4. End the body with logos. Do you find reason and logic in the analyzed work? Identify the logos examples and list them all.

Conclusion:

  1. Tell about the writer’s effectiveness. If you think he was effective, explain why. If the answer is not positive, provide reasons. In a concise way, return to the thesis form the introduction paragraph.
  2. Restate the writer’s major point.
  3. What rhetorical appeals were used, and how?
  4. If you find any mistakes in the writer’s logic, mention them in your essay.    

As you can see, writing a rhetorical analysis outline is easier than it may seem at first. All you need to do is identify the rhetorical strategies in the text and explain how the author uses them. Creating an outline is extremely important – it will guide you in the process of writing. Use the template presented above to write a perfect rhetorical analysis outline of your own. We recommend bookmarking this page so that you could use it in the future. 

Need Some Help?

If rhetorical essay writing is still a real effort for you, or there is not enough time to deal with all the assignments and tight deadlines, feel free to contact us, let us know what you are struggling for, and ask for professional help. Our expert team is here to assist you with any assignment you might have.

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