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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

When it comes to learning how to write a rhetorical analysis, it may seem a difficult task for beginners, but once you know the tricks and tips, you will be writing like an expert in no time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the rhetorical analysis definition and show you a step-by-step guide with an outline, tips, and examples. Nonetheless, if you would just prefer to skip all of this and have one of our professionals help you do it, feel free to contact our essay writing service by clicking the button below.

Table of Contents

What Is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

Rhetorical analysis wants you to break down and examine how the discourse in the text (the way the author communicates) informs, persuades, and entertains the audience (the reader). There are thousands of writing strategies used to analyze modern texts, as well as historical texts, but note that in any rhetorical analysis essay you must identify the writing style of the author and their point of view. It requires analyzing the author’s methods of persuasion (words and phrases that the author creates) and how effective they are to readers.

Now, let’s take a look at how to start.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Read and analyze the text
Writing a rhetorical analysis essay starts with reading and analyzing the assigned text. As you begin reading, take notes of valuable information that will help you simplify the analysis process.

Step 2: Identify the author’s strategies
Here are the questions you should consider while reading that you can try to answer later in your analysis:

  • Who is the author and who was their intended target audience?
  • What was the purpose of writing the speech/project?
  • Does the setting have any importance or connection to the main message(s)? If so, why did the author choose that specific context?

Having these questions in mind will make it easier to analyze the author’s strategies once you start writing. At the very least, these questions give you a template to work off of and will help you understand the author's methods of persuasion.

Step 3: Look for persuasive tactics used by the author
The ingredients for persuasion, as Aristotle called them, can be broken down into three categories. There are ethos, pathos, and logos.

  • The ethos appeals to ethics, and it is about providing traits and reasons as to why the speaker is a credible source of information.

Doctors all over the world recommend this type of treatment!

  • The pathos appeals to emotions. It is a sneaky way of convincing an audience by creating an emotional response.

You’ll make the right decision because you have something that not many people do: you have a heart.

  • The logos (our personal favourite) appeals to logical & rational thinking and tries to persuade the audience through reasoning.

Thousand years of history has taught us that war never changes.


The three methods of persuasion

In every Advanced Placement (AP) English exam (where rhetorical analysis essays are commonplace), the literary prompt for your essay will contain examples of at least one of the three persuasive methods. After using the background info to help guide you, it should not be too difficult to figure out which tactic the speaker used.

If you are supposed to create your own topic, here are some rhetorical analysis essay topics you can use;

  • Discourse in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • Persuasive strategies used in “Speech to the Troops at Tilbury” given by Queen Elizabeth I
  • Analysis of the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
  • Rhetorical strategies of Samuel L. Jackson’s monologue in Pulp Fiction

Now that you know what to look for let’s move on to the outline.

Rhetorical Essay Outline

Keep in mind that organizing your rhetorical analysis essay is not the most important thing to consider; the most important thing is to make sure you address the specific demands of your particular writing task. Therefore, it‘s not obligatory to follow any standard essay structure; there are numerous ways to begin your rhetorical analysis outline correctly.

If it’s obligatory for you to follow the structure provided by your professor, simply satisfy their requests. However, if they don’t provide a required structure for your essay, you can always use the 5-6 paragraphing style. Here is our advice for your outline:

  • Make sure to read, analyze, and make notes before beginning your outline.
  • Write the main points of your essay in your outline and add evidence to support them.
  • Create a thesis statement that encompasses your main points and addresses the purpose of the author’s writing.

If you have the main ideas to support your thesis and have evidence to back them up in your outline, the writing will be easier. You can also use our rhetorical analysis essay outline template to get a better grasp of writing your paper. Remember that the intro-body-conclusion format never changes.


In a rhetorical analysis essay, the way to gain the reader’s trust is by showing the reader that you’ve read and fully understand the assigned text. When writing the introduction, make it short and informative.

To start, briefly summarize the passage you’ll include in your essay in your own words; it will prove to the reader that you understand the central message of the text.

Next, you can briefly mention the persuasive styles used by the author, and their effect.

Lastly, formulate your opinion into a well-crafted thesis statement. It should address the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Your rhetorical analysis thesis statement usually comes at the end of your introductory paragraph.

Remember that your introduction is your chance to intrigue the reader about the content you’ll touch upon later in the text.

You may be interested in getting more information about how to write an introduction

Body Paragraphs

After giving the reader some perspective, it’s time to do some critical analysis. A large part of your time will be focused on creating informative body paragraphs. In the body, explain the methods the author used to inform, persuade, and entertain the reader.

  • If the author used persuasive language, then say that he/she used persuasive language.
  • If the author used sympathetic language, explain it and use quotes for proof.

Keep in mind that all writing should be consistent and have a clear structure. It’s wise to have different paragraphs explaining the author’s strategies, rather than jamming everything together.

When identifying the author’s writing strategies, answer the following questions:

  • How does this strategy work?
  • How is the strategy working in the example?
  • Why did the author use a specific approach for this audience?
  • How did the strategy make the audience feel, react or respond?

A couple of other things that should be taken note of within the body paragraphs are shifts in tone and diction. Don’t forget always to use proper citations in your work. In literature, the MLA format is commonly used for citations. Here’s an article

Read the article we wrote that shows the proper way to cite in MLA


After writing your detailed, well-cited body paragraphs, conclude your essay. Like most other types of essays, summarise what you’ve previously elaborated on. Talk about how the author’s words have changed the opinion of their audience, or if they’ve had a significant impact on society.

In the final sentence of your rhetorical analysis conclusion, you can provide an impactful concluding statement that demonstrates the importance of the author’s writing or how its strategies have helped shape history.

To ensure that you complete the outline correctly, feel free to ask one of our writers for help.

Writing Tips to Follow


  • The author’s methods of persuasion (examples of ethos, logos, & pathos)
  • The style of writing used (formal or informal English; specific terms, logical flow, spelling/punctuation)
  • The original target audience (business people, professors, etc.)
  • The tone, chosen by the author (it may vary from the pressing/casual to humorous/sarcastic)

Discern the goal of the passage:
Find out why the author chose those methods of persuasion, style of writing, and tone with the target audience.

  • How do the rhetorical methods help the writer achieve the primary purpose of the passage?
  • Why did the writer choose these methods to persuade the target audience for that specific occasion?
  • Focus your summary on the literary techniques and persuasive strategies used by the author.

Steps to Polish Your Rhetorical Analysis

Here are 7-steps you can take to help you with proofreading and editing, which can immensely impact the quality of your writing.

1. Grammar

It’s always important to check for any spelling or punctuation errors in your writing—avoid abbreviations.

2. Plagiarism

This is a punishable offence in all forms of educational institutions.

  • Make sure to cite anything you reference correctly.
  • For coursework, it’s possible to use an online plagiarism checker like Copyscape or Grammarly to make sure you haven’t plagiarised anything.

3. Vocabulary

Using a wide range of different words will help show a full understanding of the passage being analyzed. While studying, refer to a Thesaurus to expand your vocabulary for better results.

4. Coherency

It’s always good to have transitions between paragraphs. Don’t jump from statement to statement. Instead, lead the reader through your essay with smooth transitions.

5. Write in Present Tense

Make sure to write in the present tense to avoid confusion for your readers; it keeps your paper straightforward and easy to follow.

6. Respond to the Text

While analyzing the passage, write your paper as if you’re responding to the passage. A rhetorical analysis paper is like a reflection of the text. Analyze the writer’s rhetorical style, but keep it natural and offer your thoughts and opinions.

7. Use a Suitable Title

First impressions count. Try to use a captivating title that sticks out from the rest. Make sure the title is relevant to your work.

Get more info about how to title an essay

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Get a better idea of what’s needed to master this type of writing. Take a look at our rhetorical analysis essay example, which was written by one of our professional writers.

Rhetoric Analysis of the Death of Honesty

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