Rhetorical Analysis Planning Guide

Step One: Source Selection

To begin your Rhetorical Analysis, please select two articles from news sources. These

articles should focus on the SAME topic but approach the topic from two different

perspectives/points. Feel free to use these sample articles if it helps:

Sample A: Deal with the Dress Code

Sample B: Real Impact of Dress Codes

Step Two: Article Analysis

For BOTH articles, examine the following analytical points.

1. Rhetorical Situation:

a. Audience:

b. Purpose:

c. Issue/Topic:

d. Author/Background:

2. What genre is this type of writing (news article, blog, video, etc.)? Does the piece fit

into this genre appropriately? Why or why not?

3. How does the writer organize the argument? Does this effectively guide the reader?

Why or why not?

4. How does the writer support the argument? Is the support guided by evidence and

logic? Why or why not?

5. How does the author’s language connect to the audience? Consider tone, writing

style, and language choices.

6. A good argument balances ethos (credibility), logos (logical appeal), and pathos

(emotional appeal); does this argument have an effective balance? Why or why not?

7. OVERALL, is this an effective argument? Why or why not? *Use the answer to this

last question to help build your thesis!*

Step Three: Thesis Building (The thesis is the final sentence of your introduction; your thesis

should state your argument AND your major reasons, like a mini-outline to your paper.)

Once you’ve read and examined both articles analytically, you will build your thesis.

Your thesis should argue which article is most effective with the audience and why.

Example: Morrow’s article more effectively connects to the audience than Jameson’s

because of issues with tone and example choices.

Based on that thesis, the first section of my paper would focus on the difference in tone

for both articles, and the second section would focus on the different example choices.

Step Four: Outline Building

An outline is an effective way to plan your paper BEFORE you write. It makes writing

the paper MUCH easier! Please use the following outline template for your work:

I. Intro

Attention Grabber. Pull your reader into your paper with an engaging quote, story, or

idea. This attention grabber should be related to your paper’s major point – how to make

an effective argument.

General Contexts and Introduction of Sources (Introduce both articles formally – full

names of the authors and full name of the article titles in quotation marks. After you

introduce the authors by their full name initially, you can refer to them by last name


Thesis Statement. Your thesis statement should focus on two or three points of analysis

(not summary points). For example: “In this piece, Davis more effectively reaches her

audience than Douglas by using stronger language and more evocative examples.” Based

on this thesis, my first body paragraph(s) would be about the language choices and my

second section of the paper would focus on example choices.

II. Body (Note: You will have multiple body paragraphs; how many depends on the purpose

and depth of your thesis/assignment.)

Topic Sentence. The topic sentence should connect back to your thesis. Based on the

example thesis, this topic sentence should be about language choices in the two articles.

Examples with Analysis. As you plan your outline, pull three or four specific examples

to use in your paper to make sure you’re fully “showing, not telling” your topic sentence

point. Make sure you add analysis after each example to show WHY it matters.

Use QUOTES! Use short quotes (a handful of words or one sentence) to illustrate your

ideas. Integrate them smoothly with signal phrases. Examples: In Smith’s article, he

argues, “People need to be objective.” OR Smith argues that people “need to be

objective” in order to connect with his audience. If you don’t mention the writer’s name

in your sentence, you need to cite them parenthetically. Example: Then he notes that

people “need to be objective” (Smith). After each quote, include a sentence or phrase that

explains WHAT the quote shows and how it proves the topic sentence.

Linking Sentence. This sentence should tie all the examples back together and argue

why it proves your thesis.

III. Conclusion

Restate main ideas and explain the argument’s overall significance. (Do not simply

copy/paste your thesis.)

Step Five: Document your Sources

Google “OWL at Purdue MLA” to find an excellent MLA resource. This site uses the

most up-to-date MLA documentation. (Your printed textbook is likely outdated, but the

e-book via Mindtap is updated.)

To cite your sources, look under “Electronic Sources,” and find “A Page on a Website.”

Basic Template:

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Website Title, Date of Creation, URL or

DOI. Date of access.


Brown, John. “The Key to Success.” The New York Times, 4 May 2016,

www.nytimes.com/key-to-success. Accessed 5 September 2016.

Please review this site to learn more about your in-text citations and paper formatting.

Look under “Sample Paper” for a guide.

Step Six: Drafting, Revision, Drafting, Revision

Leave ample time to draft and revise to ensure the best product! As you write, please

don’t hesitate to contact me for guidance. Also, you can utilize the Writing Center in the

Student Learning Center for one-on-one writing tutoring if you have access to campus!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about your

assignments! I’m here to help!