Best Strategies for Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A rhetorical analysis essay studies how a writer or speaker uses words to influence the audience. Rhetoric is non-fiction work such as speeches, cartoons, advertisements, or visual work.

A rhetorical essay breaks down the non-fiction work to examine how the different parts and techniques have been used to bring out a certain effect or to accomplish the writer’s goal. The writer’s goal may be to persuade, inform, or entertain.

During a rhetorical analysis, you must not establish your point of view; rather the essay should serve as a tool for analysis.

Therefore, you are not to indicate whether you agree with the rhetorician’s (creator of the rhetoric) approach. Notably, a rhetorical analysis essay is not a summary of the work.

Just like reaction essay samples and expository essay definition, the you should critically read or view the work and break it down into different related parts.

You then pick those parts and analyze how the author uses them to accomplish a given goal. Different writers in various disciplines use diverse writing techniques to achieve their goals.

In every work, try to identify the writer’s main idea otherwise known as a thesis statement.

Rhetorical Analysis Format


Read the piece of work to get a sense of what the author or speaker’s work is about. Look out for answers to the following questions.

  1. What is the writer’s main idea?
  2. What was the objective of the author in writing this text?
  3. Who is the intended audience?
  4. How are the ideas presented?
  5. How does the writer use certain writing techniques such as grammar, tone, diction, word choice?
  6. Are some terms deliberately repeated?
  7. Is punctuation used to create a specific effect? For example, the use of italics, underlining, bold, different font types, styles, and colors?

When taking an AP exam, you are time bound. Therefore, you do not have abundant time to read the work repeatedly.

The first time you peruse the work, take notes in regards to the questions above.

Those notes will make it significantly easy to do your analysis just like persuasive essay introduction or how to write a literary analysis essay.

When writing a rhetoric essay, you have to consider elements such as the speaker, the occasion, the audience to which the piece was intended, and the purpose.

Moreover, you have to consider the subject and the tone. Speaker refers to the author or creator of the non-fiction work that you will be analyzing.

Identify the author’s names or initials that give him/her the authority to write on the subject. If the narrator and the writer are different, note down both.

Occasion refers to the type of content and its context. For instance, you will easily be able to pick out the difference between a research paper and a memo.

The audience is the primary target audience for whom the content is created. Depending on who the target audience, the writer will use different writing techniques.

For instance, a book written for students about a certain topic will be simplified while a professional or academic paper may use technical language and present numerous facts.

Purpose refers to the main idea or theme of the paper while subject simply refers to the topic or essay.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

The following is a general outline of a rhetorical analysis essay although it may differ slightly depending on the work being analyzed.

If writing a rhetoric essay as part of your AP Exam, ensure to use the outline that your professor provided.


The introduction should state the title of the document, essay, or work you will be analyzing.

State the rhetoric situation you will be analyzing, the author of the rhetoric, intended audience, and the context of the work you will be writing about. This background information should be to the point and concise.


Thesis is usually written as part of the introduction. It can be the last paragraph of the introduction or the last few sentences of the last paragraph of the introduction.

Note that this is not the thesis statement for the text or work you will be analyzed; rather, it is a statement of the main objective of your rhetoric analysis.

It should give the reader a sense of what to expect in your essay.


This section of your essay should highlight the specifics of the various tools the author of the rhetoric uses to achieve a certain objective.

This is the section where you cover tone, language, diction, tenses, and other writing tools.


In the body, expound on the various tools and techniques that the rhetorician uses.

Give examples of each tool and explain how they have been used to achieve a specific objective.

Justify why the author uses a specific strategy and whether it is effective in regards to the audience, occasion, and purpose.

Persuasion Appeals

When analyzing the text, it is important to look at the techniques the author has used to influence the reader.

There are three main persuasion appeals: Pathos, Ethos, and Logos. Pathos refers to emotionally persuading the reader, logos appeals to logic, and ethos is the persuasion based on credibility.

Different writing tools are used for each persuasion mode. For instance, if the author has given his credentials, it establishes his credibility to talk about the subject.

Therefore, appealing to the readers’ ethos. Similarly, the logical presentation of ideas influences the audience’s interpretation of the piece of work.

Techniques such as the use of descriptive language appeal to the reader’s pathos.


Your conclusion should dwell on your overall argument. Give an overview of the text’s strengths and weaknesses and overall evidence for the text’s effectiveness or ineffectiveness in accomplishing the specific goal.

Strategies and Tips for a Good Essay: Grammar, Vocabulary, Using Present Tense, Word Count, and More

 Various basic guidelines apply all essays regarding grammar, using tenses, tone, and coherence. Below are overall guidelines for writing a rhetorical essay analysis.

Vocabulary – Use a variety of vocabulary. Replace commonly used verbs with their appropriate synonyms. Avoid overusing certain words unless you are using the repetition to deliberately, bring out a certain effect such as for emphasis.


The length of your essay will vary depending on the text you are analyzing and the specific thesis statement.

However, AP exam rhetoric essays are 500-700 words. Your lecturer may give specific instructions on word count – adhere to them.


 Grammar may sound obvious yet often overlooked. The reality is your professor will penalize you for work that has grammatical and punctuation errors.

Proofreading and Editing

Before submitting your essay, proofread it thoroughly. Check it to ensure there is a variety of sentence schemes and types; punctuation marks are well used, coherence, and proper spellings.

Ensure you have not used any abbreviations in your essay.

There are numerous applications available online to help you check for grammatical errors as well as detect plagiarism in your essay.

The recommended tense for rhetoric essays is present tenses. Although you may need to use past tense, your observations should be current.


Since a rhetoric essay aims to present an objective tone, it is advisable that you write in the third Avoid using first person pronoun “I.”

Using the first-person pronoun might give an impression that you are giving your personal opinions yet this is a fact-based type of essay.


Use a writing style and select words that create a seamless flow of your easy.

Use a variety of transition words appropriately to be able to transition from one idea to another.

Ensure that the ideas flow logically. This prevents you from jumping from one idea to a completely different one within the same paragraph.

Use the appropriate punctuation marks to ensure your essay is readable.


Keep in mind that a rhetoric essay is not just about identifying the various rhetoric strategies and techniques.

You will need to demonstrate the effectiveness of those strategies versus your thesis statement.

Essay Organization

 Ensure your essay has a suitable title. The title should give an idea of the theme statement as well as the text being analyzed.

Keep the title short and catchy. Use subtitles to categorize your work. This will help you present your arguments better while improving the readability of your essay.

Tips for Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Introduction

  1. State the purpose of the rhetorical analysis. Doing so lets the reader know what exactly to expect.
  2. Do not outrightly state “This is a rhetorical analysis essay.” Instead, weave in information in the introduction that will help the reader naturally derive that the paper is a rhetorical analysis. You can check example rhetorical analysis essay using ethos pathos and logos.
  3. Key information that must be in the introduction segment includes name/names/initials of the writer, name of the text being analyzed, the objective of the analysis, target audience and a brief highlight of SOAPSTone.
  4. Give a summary of the key rhetorical techniques employed in the text and show how they work towards achieving the desired purpose of the text.
  5. Consider making an original argument about the text about its thesis statement.

Tips for Writing the Body Paragraphs to a Rhetoric Essay

The body is the main part of a rhetorical analysis essay. It contains all the important details of your analysis. The main purpose of the body is to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the strategy that the author has used?
  2. Has the strategy achieved the intended purpose?
  3. What are some of the examples of the strategy being utilized?
  4. How did the various tools and techniques influence the fulfillment of the strategy?
  5. What persuasion appeal has the writer used?

You can adopt various strategies organize the paragraphs in your rhetoric essay body section.

First is organizing the paragraphs according to the appeals.

Depending on the amount of content available for each persuasion mode, you can write a paragraph or as many as you need to clarify each.

The order in which you arrange the appeals does not matter. For each mode, identify at least one claim and evaluate it by deriving examples from the text.

The last paragraph should evaluate the overall impact of the three appeals.

The second alternative for organizing your body is arranging the strategies chronologically.

Start from the beginning of the text identifying how the various appeal and styles have been used. Work your way to the end of the text.

When using this approach, ensure that every paragraph begins with a topic sentence.

Each sentence in each paragraph should further expound the topic sentence. You should not jump from one topic to another within a paragraph.

The third option is to analyze the content in four main broad categories: diction, syntax, punctuation, and tone.

Diction refers to the choice of words that the writer uses to convey a particular meaning.

Look out for specific words and phrases used words that have been used repetitiously, whether or not the author has used filler words. For instance, repetition can be used to create emphasis.

The appropriate diction varies with the purpose, occasion, and subject as well as the target audience. Technical text requires the use of field-specific vocabulary.

Concerning the purpose of the content, consider whether the writer intended to entertain, inform, or persuade and whether the words used had the intended impact.

For instance, if the author intended to inform, the diction is most likely going to be straightforward.

On the other hand, if the intention was to entertain the writer may have used some playful words.

Formal diction is the standard for scholarly writing and text while you may encounter slang or colloquial for informal texts.

Syntax refers to word arrangement within a sentence. The standard scheme for arranging words with a sentence is subject-verb-object.

However, the writer may deviate from this scheme to add emphasis. Another key aspect in regards to syntax is sentence length.

Long sentences are used to provide details and descriptions while short sentences straightforwardly bring the main idea.

Good writing is often characterized by the use of a variety of sentence lengths.

Sentence types range from simple, declarative, exclamative, compound, complex, compound-complex, interrogative, and imperative sentences.

Identify the type of sentences the writer has used and to what impact.

Appropriate use of punctuation marks is vital for any good writing. Bes sure to check how often punctuation marks such as semicolon, colon, dash, period and other have been used.

Finally, the tone is used to bring out the writer’s attitude about the subject.

Tone is a unique rhetorical strategy that is brought out by the use of the other rhetorical strategies.

A writer can bring out the tone in three major ways. First is combining Diction and Tropes, the second is combining syntax and schemes, and the third is whether the writing is detailed or lacks details.

General Guidelines for Writing the Body Paragraphs of a Rhetoric Essay

  1. Whichever approach you use to present your work, ensure that you provide enough information to support your thesis.
  2. Directly quote and paraphrase the necessary information. Do not give your opinions or rely on your emotions to justify your objectives.
  3. Maintain an objective tone in your essay. Do not use first person pronoun. Ideally, stick with the third person.
  4. Remember to observe grammatical rules such as varying sentence lengths and diction.
  5. Cite your work accordingly.
  6. Ensure a smooth transition between sentences, paragraphs and from one rhetoric strategy to another.
  7. Once done with the entire essay proofread your work for grammar, smooth transitions, fluidity, and logical argument.
  8. Avoid using words such as good or bad when describing the efficacy of a rhetorical strategy in achieving a given objective. Instead, use the words “effective” or “ineffective.”

Tips for Writing an Effective Conclusion to a Rhetorical Essay

A conclusion in any piece of writing is an opportunity for you to create a memorable impression on the reader. It is your chance to leave the readers with a sense of completeness. While the introduction familiarizes the reader with the content that will be discussed throughout the text, the conclusion sums up ideas discussed in the easy.

Tips for Writing an Effective Conclusion to a Rhetorical Essay

  1. Restate your thesis. Paraphrase the objective of your essay.
  2. Incorporate a conclusive statement on whether the author achieved the specific objective that your essay was analyzing. Back it up with a sentence or two to show that indeed the author was able to achieve the said objective.
  3. Avoid summarizing concepts discussed in the main text (the body of the essay). The reader has already read that in the body.
  4. If there is any rhetoric question you asked in the introduction part of the essay, give a conclusive answer to the question in the conclusion segment

Popular Rhetoric Analysis Topics

Choosing a good rhetoric essay topic is key to writing a good rhetoric essay. However, you may find yourself confused which topic to choose.

Consider these two guidelines. First, go for a topic that interests you or that you are familiar with.

Secondly, ensure that the topic you choose will be of interest to your readers.

Your analysis can be in text, speech, and poem, commercial or any other subject of interest provided it is not fiction.

You can analyze topics on a wide range of subjects such as culture and emerging issues.

When analyzing a piece of literature, you could be asked to describe the narrative voice, examine the literal context, describe the mood of the work, and examine characters among others.

That said, below is a list of 20 popular rhetoric analysis topics that you can choose from.

  1. Donald Trump 2016 inauguration speech
  2. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech
  3. John F. Kennedy inauguration speech
  4. Steve Jobs’ commencement speech
  5. Rhetorical Analysis of a movie trailer “Prisoners” 2013
  6. Rhetorical Analysis of the Geico Camel Hump Day Advertisement
  7. Rhetorical Analysis of Richard Estrada Article
  8. Rhetorical Analysis Essay: We Are Marshall Speech
  9. Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”
  10. Edgar Allan Poe short story “The Tell-Tale Heart
  11. Harper Lee Novel “To Kill a Mockingbird
  12. Rhetorical Analysis of “Anti-Intellectualism: Why We Hate the Smart Kids”
  13. Rhetorical Analysis Essay on “Horatio Alger” By Harlon L. Dalton
  14. Tattoos as an expression of freedom
  15. School uniforms are a necessity in the education system.
  16. Consequences of obesity among individuals and society as depicted in the 2018 WHO report
  17. Rhetorical Analysis Paper “The Story of an Hour
  18. Rhetorical analysis on the article The Big Tilt: Participatory Inequality in America by Sidney Verba, Kay Lehman Schlozman, and Henry E. Brady
  19. Examine the setting of a novel of your choice
  20. Analyze a speech that you once listened to, and it had a great impact on you
  21. Provide a rhetorical analysis of any of Shakespeare books
  22. Analyze the “Brave Heart” speech by William Wallace
  23. Richard Nixon’s resignation speech
  24. Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”
  25. The “Wild nights” poem by Emily Dickinson
  26. A speech by a Nobel Prize winner of your choice
  27. Rhetorical Analysis of the movie ‘American History X
  28. A Perfect Christmas – Walgreens revisits the Town of Perfect Commercial
  29. Rhetorical analysis of “A Homemade Education” by Malcolm X
  30. Rhetorical Analysis of a Photo “The Flame Arrives At City Hall”
  31. Rhetorical analysis on the article The Big Tilt: Participatory Inequality in America by Sidney Verba, Kay Lehman Schlozman, and Henry E. Brady
  32. Rhetorical Analysis on the Declaration of Independence by Jefferson
  33. Rhetorical Analysis of Malala Yousafzai’s speech to the UN

Comparison between Rhetoric Analyses of a Text versus Rhetoric Analysis of a Commercial

Essentially, the principles for writing a rhetorical analysis for a commercial are similar to that of text.

Just like in text, you will identify the target audience, subject matter, and the various rhetoric strategies used.

You will also identify the appeals and presentation in the commercial.

Unique to rhetorical analysis of a commercial, you will need to identify the characters used in the commercial.

Are the characters celebrities? How do they carry themselves? What role do they play in the commercial?

Also, identify the setting of the commercial and its relevance in bringing out the purpose of the commercial.

Analyze the use of language in the commercial and usage to persuade or bring out the message of the commercial.

The outline and general guidelines for writing a rhetorical analysis of a text and a rhetorical analysis of a commercial are the same.

While this article has done its best to offer you the tips and strategies for writing a good rhetorical essay, the process can be complicated and confusing.

It may require you to commit extensive time to practice writing such essays to be able to write an A grade piece.

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