How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Original creators of any literary work always aim at changing the audience’s perception towards an issue. A rhetorical analysis is an explanation of how the author of a text or speaker uses different tools to influence his or her audience. Your task is always to identify the strategies and elucidate their effectiveness towards the author’s efforts to make an argument. To develop a good rhetorical analysis of any piece of work, you need an outline. It gives you a skeleton of your assignment, including every element to capture in your essay. Read on to find more tips on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline.

See what this guide contains:

  • Importance of rhetorical analysis essay outline
  • Elements of a rhetorical analysis essay outline
  • Building a rhetorical analysis essay outline
  • Sample rhetorical analysis essay outline

The main purpose of this resource is to enhance your writing skills and make you stand out among multitudes. Do not take them as stringent laws to follow. Instead, feel free to make any adjustments depending on your assignment. Are you ready to learn? Here we go…

The basics of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline

Every academic essay has an outline. In rhetorical analysis, an outline gives your bare bones, on which you develop your essay. It provides you with a structure to allow logical flow of ideas from the introduction to conclusion. Without a good outline, you risk going off the tangent and end up with something different from a rhetorical analysis essay.

In this section, you will discover the importance of a rhetorical analysis essay in details. Take a look:

Four reasons why you need a rhetorical analysis essay outline

If you have always overlooked doing an outline when handling your written assignment, this discussion will help you understand why you have been scoring low grades. Make it a habit to have an outline unless your tutor says no. However, before we discuss guidelines of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline, examine the following benefits:

An outline clarifies your thoughts and helps you develop ideas

The hardest step when working on a writing assignment is confronting a blank page. This space can be discouraging. However, a rhetorical analysis essay outline acts as your first block on which you build the rest of the essay.

It will also serve as a brainstorming tool so that you think through your ideas and make up your mind on what to include in your paper.

An outline helps you identify gaps in your argument

Since an outline breaks down your main ideas and their supporting arguments, it is possible to note the weakness of your argument as you draft your skeleton. In the process, you are likely to notice that you do not have evidence for a specific main point, or you have a weak claim to back it. An outline will also help you identify misplaced ideas in your paper.

An outline helps you organize ideas and remain on focus

You are likely to lose direction when you write a paper without an outline. Besides misplacing or leaving out your supporting ideas, you are likely to go off the track. You also end up including irrelevant details, which does not advance your argument at all. An outline will therefore give your paper a stronger impact.

An essay outline saves time

The last benefit to note as you gain more knowledge on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline is that it is a time saver.

With an outline, you will have a clear path to follow, making your writing easier and within a short duration. If you do your homework well, it is possible to use your outline to write opening sentences for every paragraph. Once you are through with your outline, the remaining task will be joining the points so that they flow in prose. This saves a lot of time because by the time you embark on actual writing, you already know, which points to include and expand to a specific limit.

What makes a good rhetorical analysis essay outline

Writing a good rhetorical analysis essay can be draining. From reading the piece, drafting, analyzing appeals… the workload is too much. However, this should not be the case if you have a standard outline in place.

Here are some of the elements to include on your rhetorical analysis essay outline:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis
  • Body paragraphs
  • Conclusion

Let us discuss each of these elements in details:

What to include in your rhetorical essay introduction

The introduction paragraph gives you a chance to entice your audience by wetting their appetite. It is a delicate segment because it sets the pace of your paper. The following elements will help you figure out how to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline.

  1. Identify the text you are analyzing – Give the title of the work, the author and year of publication. Remember also to state the credentials of the author.
  2. Background information – state the context of the text. For example, bring out why the author published the piece. Also, establish the author’s implied propose of the work.
  • Give a brief summary of the text –Make it brief and sweet and spare fleshy details for the body paragraphs.
  1. Target audience – whom did the author have in mind when writing the article or working on the text?

As you do your intro, state whether or not the rhetorician achieved his goal, i.e. did he employ rhetorical appeals successfully?

How to piece a good thesis for your rhetorical analysis essay

Place your thesis at the end of your introduction paragraph. A thesis statement is a sentence or two, capturing your main idea. A good thesis should be specific and clear. It acts like the backbone of your essay. You cannot afford to miss it when writing a rhetorical analysis essay because it orients your audience.

What to do when developing body paragraphs of your rhetorical analysis

The body carries the meat of your essay. It is where you flesh out solid examples from the text under scrutiny. Start every paragraph with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement and discuss how the author uses a particular tool to achieve the purpose of his or her work.

As you think about how to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline, focus on different tools, which the original creator of the piece uses. The appeals used in rhetorical analysis essays are:

  • Logos
  • Pathos
  • Ethos

These work together influencing the audience and ultimately achieving the main purpose of the   text.

 Ethos refers to how the author earns the trust and respect of the audience because of his credentials. Credentials may also include previous reputation and knowledge on the topic or issue under discussion.

Pathos is how the author makes emotional appeal to the audience. Reveal instances where the author uses emotional language or personal anecdotes to hit a human element. Also, look out for overuse of emotions, which leads to manipulation.

Logos- This is how the author weaves his ideas logically to make conclusion.

Concluding your rhetorical analysis essay

As you figure out how to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline, remember that every element counts, including the conclusion, which comes last. As you, conclude:

Zoom out your essay, and signal closure of your ideas.

Revisit your overall argument. Take your reader to a point different from they were at the beginning.

State your final view on the text, citing strengths and weaknesses plus whether it is effective or not.

Examine the following example of a rhetorical analysis essay outline as you reflect on the above guidelines.

Sample Rhetorical Analysis Outline


  1. Introduction: 
  1. Background Information to orient the reader
  2. Bibliographical information
  3. Title, author, publisher
  4. Author’s argument
  5. Thesis
  6. The writer’s argument
  7. Support
  8. Body:


  1. Main Point 1: Use of Logos in Source
  2. Supporting paragraph 1: Give examples
  3. Supporting paragraph 2: Explain your examples
  4. Main Point 2: Use of Pathos in Source
  5. Supporting paragraph 1: Give concrete examples
  6. Supporting paragraph 2: Evaluate the appeal
  7. Main Point 3: Use of Ethos
  8. Supporting paragraph 1: Give concrete examples
  9. Supporting paragraph 2: Evaluate the appeal


III. Conclusion:


  1. Summary of evaluation
  2. Make a final statement


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With this handout, you have all the guidelines on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline. What remains is your effort to practice and make it your assignment tool. Success...

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