Rhetorical Essay Format
A rhetorical essay format indicates how this essay should be organized. A format can be defined as a plan of the arrangement and organization of a given production. It is a layout or material form of a publication. Generally, there is no single way of organizing a rhetorical analysis that can be considered as perfect for all rhetorical essays. Actually, writers ought to be leery of the plug-in formulas that provide perfect formats for writing rhetorical analysis essays.
It is important to note that organization is not a problem. The most important thing is to consider the demands of this task. Nevertheless, there are general tips that you can follow while writing your essay to ensure that you adhere to all the requirements of this assignment and to come up with an impressive rhetorical analysis essay.
Why there is no perfect rhetorical essay format
Rhetorical essays analyze the main arguments behind different works and tactics that are used by their authors in advancing and supporting their arguments. These essays do not analyze written prose only. They can analyze advertisements, music videos, commercials as well as other media.
Basically, a rhetorical essay is built around a rhetorical triangle, which illustrates how the author interacts with the audience, text context, subject matter and what the piece shows about the society and human nature. Due to the variety of the discourse on which rhetorical essays can be written, there is no specific format that can suit all rhetorical essays.
A general rhetorical essay format
Although almost anything including poems and paintings can be analyzed by rhetorical essays, most rhetorical essays are written on persuasive pieces. This implies that writing this essay is a meta-exercise because they are written on how well the author accomplishes the purpose or set goal for creating the work under analysis.
As such, you can follow this general format in writing your rhetorical analysis essay:
Start your rhetorical essay with an introduction that sets a stage for what will be done in the rest of the essay.
The introduction of a rhetorical essay should accomplish the following:
- Tell readers that you are writing a rhetorical essay. This ensures that they do not expect you to come up with an evaluative argument or to take positions in your writing.
- State the document that you will be analyzing clearly and provide relevant background information regarding its development or history. You can provide a quick summary of the work that you are writing the rhetorical essay about in the introduction. If you are writing a rhetorical essay on a large piece of work, save in-depth descriptions for the body paragraphs.
- Integrate smaller documents such as an advert or photograph in the introduction.
- Provide a simple, basic run-down of rhetorical situations that surround the work. This includes the purpose, context and audience.
- Focus and thesis statement
Include a thesis statement or focus statement towards the end of the introductory paragraph. Composing a thesis statement, focus or the controlling idea for a rhetorical essay can be challenging. You might think that you simply need to announce that your text is a rhetorical essay. However, you should come up with a clear and direct thesis statement especially if you are writing a long rhetorical essay.
Therefore, come up with a thesis statement that does the following:
- Narrows the focus of your rhetorical essay in a clear manner. Choose aspects of the work that you are analyzing that are adequately complex and interesting to warrant comprehensive rhetorical analysis.
- Reflects the intension of analyzing the used rhetorical techniques in accomplishing the purpose of the work.
- Hints that you will be searching for evidence that is used to support the presented argument.
- Specify the used tools such as imagery, simile or diction and how they are used in accomplishing the goal of the work.
Make sure that your thesis statement is specific and clearly informing readers about what will be covered in the essay.
- Body paragraphs
When it comes to writing the body paragraph, a rhetorical essay format can vary depending on the size and genre of the work under analysis. However, the main goal of the body paragraph is simply to present the parts of the work under analysis while indicating how the parts function together in accomplishing the set goal.
In most rhetorical essays, the body paragraphs cover the following:
Ethos refers to persuasive strategies that are used by the authors in illustrating their trustfulness, reliability and credibility. While analyzing any document or work, identify ethos by considering the assertion of credentials by the author or the attempts made by the author to win the trust of the audience. The section that analyze ethos in a rhetorical essay includes specific examples from the work under analyzes where they occur as well as an analysis of their impact on the perception of the readers towards the author.
Pathos refers to the attempts by the author to engage the values and emotions of the audience. For instance, the author of a document can tell stories of individuals with a particular problem or a touching, personal anecdote to appeal to the audience emotionally.
In the section that describes the used logos, a rhetorical essay describes the way the author of the document under analysis attempts to appeal to the logical ideas’ sequence in the readers. This entails making reasonable and supportable claims. Usually, authors do this by using reliable sources and strong research. Tell the readers of your rhetorical essay how the argument of the original document is advanced logically, the research that has been used and the reasoning behind the expressed ideas.
Just like other essays, a rhetorical essay format has a conclusion that zooms out the analysis. In the conclusion, a rhetorical essay should address the overall argument. It should round out all content of the essay by offering readers something to think about after reading the essay. Therefore, make sure that after reading the body paragraphs where you analyze the work and present evidence, the audience reach a destination that is somehow different from where they were while starting to read your essay. Provide a final overview of the weaknesses and strengths of the work while reinforcing your reasons for believing that the work proves ineffective or effective.
There are few options of ordering a rhetorical essay.
They include the following:
- Chronological order
This is a straight-forward approach. For instance, when analyzing a booklet or website’s photo, you can use this approach because it enables you to present insights the way a viewer experiences the images. The images may have been juxtaposed or placed in a particular order for a specific reason. You can integrate such a line in your essay. However, you should be careful if you choose chronological ordering especially when dealing with work that has a narrative such as a music video or a television show because this approach can lead to a plot summary that is not the goal of your rhetorical analysis essay.
This is an ordering approach that covers various parts of the work in a way that makes them easy for the eyes to scan. It differs from chronological ordering in terms of screens or pages where spatial ordering concerns the order of single planes or pages.
The general guidelines for this format include the following:
- Top-to-down and left-to-right are the normal scanning and reading patterns in English-speaking countries.
- Lines are used to offer paths and directions that eyes can follow.
- Naturally, eyes look for the centers. This can technically be the center of a larger item in a page or the page itself.
- Research indicates that eyes have a tendency of lingering in a top-left quadrant prior to moving right from left. It is after spending time looking at the visible, top portion of a page that eyes scroll down.
Reminders and tips
Regardless of the rhetorical essay format that you use or how you order your essay, there are things that you need to do or keep in mind while writing a rhetorical essay.
They include the following:
- Including transitions between the body paragraphs as well as between the segments of the essay. Transitions enable readers to follow your line of thinking.
- Proofread and edit your essay for mechanical errors and clarity.
- Read the essay prompt carefully before and after writing to ensure that your essay meets the specified requirements.
- Use a sample rhetorical essay for ideas on how to format your essay. Click here for a rhetorical essay format.
Get help with your rhetorical essay
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