Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical analysis is a powerful tool for understanding what others write and for revising  our own writing because every author faces the same challenges. Rhetorical analysis is a way to examine how information is conveyed, the assumptions an author makes about the audience, the author’s motives and strategies chosen to persuade.  when writing.

There are many ways to “get into” a text, whether you are the author or an audience member.  Below are links to several heuristics (checklists) for analyzing a text rhetorically.  But my shorthand approach is:

  1. WHAT is being said — what’s the message or claim or thesis; the content of the piece
  2. HOW is it being said — tone, format, vocabulary, evidence (the list goes on)
  3. how does the “how” AFFECT the “what” — does the writing help or hinder the message?


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