Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

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The aim of a rhetorical analysis paper is to determine how the creator of the piece of work that you’re analyzing came up with their argument. Although it is investigative in nature, it should not be confused with research analysis. Its purpose is not to determine the meaning of the piece being analyzed but to dissect the written work and convey HOW the author writes and not reflect on WHAT they have written.

To do this successfully, you should analyze the different strategies that the writer uses to achieve his or her goals. Keep in mind that people from diverse backgrounds often employ various approaches to meet their objectives. Based on this insight, it is acceptable to use different existing styles of writing to explore your work. For instance, you cannot use a similar technique to examine a scientific report as you would for a history article. Since each writer has unique objectives in mind, it is only reasonable that they would use different techniques in writing.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Outline

The first step to writing a rhetorical analysis outline is finding an excellent article that you can base your analysis on. As you go through the text, endeavor to identify the thesis statement and the principle arguments that the author is trying to convey. Once you understand the author’s point of view, you will have to start examining the rhetorical features of the context. It will require you to re-read the text with the following queries in mind:

  1. What argument is the author trying to make in the thesis statement?
  2. Which topic has the writer decided to study and why?
  3. What are the intentions of the author? Do they what to inform, persuade, criticize or educate?
  4. Who is the target audience? Why those specific individuals?
  5. In what order has the author organized his or her ideas? Are they in chronological order?
  6. How does the writer utilize literary tools?
  7. Is there any repetition of key points or terms?
  8. Does the creator make use of quotes? Why?
  9. What is the structure of the essay? Is it imperative, exclamatory, declarative?
  10. Does the writer use punctuation to create specific effects? What are these effects?

The principal goal is to not only find answers to the questions above but also to establish the reason why the author has chosen to write in that particular style.

While there are numerous schools of thought concerning the best method to use when writing an analysis essay outline, at the peak strategy list is the SOAPSTone technique. The SOAPSTone method was created to help break down content written by professional writers in order to develop a rhetorical essay outline. The acronym represents the Speaker, Occasion, Target Audience, Purpose, Subject, and Tone of the text.

The elements of the SOAPSTone technique are:


  • Speaker: This element requires you to figure out who is telling the story or conveying the information. Are they the character? Or perhaps the narrator? Or is the speaker the author of the article? What other facts should be known?
  • Occasion: Establish the specific event or setting of the story. This refers to the era or area the narrative takes place in.
  • Audience: Who is the target audience? Why was the text written to that particular audience? Could there be more than one audience? If so, how many?
  • Purpose: What was the intention of the author while writing the text? What message are they trying to convey? Are the goals clear?
  • Subject: Investigate the topic and its underlying meaning. What other insights are revealed in the text?
  • Tone: Examine the tone used in the rhetorical essay. Evaluate each literary device and observe how the text has been organized. What emotions does this tone bring out in the audience?


What Are Some of the Strategies That One Can Use to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Paper Outline?

Rhetorical strategies or modes are used by authors to allow them to structure and analyze the rhetorical analysis paper. They enable the writers to express their opinions and ideas effectively. These rhetorical modes include:


  • Description: An outstanding story can create sharp pictures in the audience’s mind and help them understand the content better. There are two ways in which an author can achieve this. The first is the objective description whereby the author describes the setting of the narration or the physical appearance of the characters without displaying his or her emotions. The second method is where the feelings of the author are evident in the description.
  • Exemplification: This mode requires writers to use examples to support their ideas.
  • Narration: This refers to the scope of the plot. Who are the characters involved? Where does the story take place? The narrative focuses on the plot, theme, description, and ideas of the article.
  • Cause and effect: This mode explores the purpose of a particular event and examines the impact of that event.
  • Process analysis: The process analysis prompts the essayist to answer the question HOW. For instance, how does this event happen? How does the audience respond to the essay?


  • Comparison and contrast: When comparing items, also consider how similar they are or how they are related.

Outline for Rhetorical Analysis

A rhetorical analysis essay follows the framework of a conventional composition. This means it should have an introduction, thesis, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. It also has a summary of the argument and strengths and weaknesses of the discussions.

Writing the Introduction

The introduction should:

  • State the subject clearly
  • Declare the purpose of the rhetorical analysis
  • Hook the audience

Keep in mind that the primary analysis will take place in the body paragraphs. Therefore, make your introduction clear and concise.

The thesis statement creates a smooth transition between the introduction and the body paragraphs. It presents the main point of the essay and your thoughts on the topic. A few things to note when writing the thesis:

  • Never write in the first person
  • Your thesis serves to guide the readers
  • State the techniques you intend to analyze and talk about the impact and the effectiveness of each method
  • The thesis should not be vague

Writing the Body Paragraphs

The body is the most vital part of your rhetorical essay. The paragraphs should scrutinize the text and provide concrete examples to demonstrate the point better. Devote every paragraph to a specific strategy and begin each section with a topic sentence that relates to your thesis statement. The sections should seek to answer the following questions:

  • What sort of strategy is it?
  • Does the rhetorical strategy work?
  • Why did the author use this strategy?
  • What effect does it have on the target audience?
  • What tone does the author use?

Including these details in your rhetorical analysis paper outline and the final draft will show that you understand the text and the overall style and rhetorical techniques used. Lastly, cite and reference your sources correctly.

Summary of the Arguments

In this section of your rhetorical analysis essay outline, use the following tools: ethos, logos, and pathos to describe the impact the author has on the reader. Ethos describes the character of the writer, their credentials or qualifications. It also explains their likability and intentions.

The logos describes the claims made in the thesis statement and the evidence used to support the arguments. The pathos portrays the emotions that the cases evoke and the tools that the author uses to elicit these emotions.

The Conclusion

The conclusion should explain how the text affects the audience and the results. Did the piece of work that you are analyzing change the society in any way? Did it shape the history of the community? After you address these questions, highlight the significance of the work and then summarize your points and thesis statement.

Rhetorical Analysis Outline Example

The Student Loan Debt Trap


Background information on the topic: this includes the title, author, and the publication information. The issue and arguments made. For instance: “The article ‘The Student Loan Debt Trap’ was written by Kala Robinson. In this article, she argues that students are weighed down for a lifetime by the enormous loan debts.”

Thesis statement: your primary reaction to the author’s arguments. Support your thesis with appeals or logical reasons. An example of a thesis statement is: “Robinson uses statistics, emotional appeals, and real-life examples to present a strong argument for the need to do away with student loans.”


First point: use logos for this point. Start your paragraph with a topic sentence and use concrete examples and statistics. Explain whether the models are valid for the arguments. Use the cause and effect, inductive or deductive reasoning to explain your point.

For the second main point, use pathos and evaluate the effectiveness of the appeals that you present. And finally, for your last paragraph, use ethos with concrete examples of ethical appeal.


Summarize the evaluation and restate the thesis statement. An example of a conclusion based on the article ‘The Student Loan Debt Trap’:

“Finally, even though some of Robinson’s statistics are somewhat outdated, the use of these figures in combination with real-life examples presents a solid argument. She also uses emotional appeals to emphasize her point and compel readers to sympathize and understand the unfair burden that most graduates face as they struggle to repay their loans.”

Final Remarks

Writing a rhetorical analysis outline template may seem like a daunting task. However, with proper planning and the right guidelines to follow, this seemingly impossible task can be achieved. The strategies discussed above and the rhetorical analysis outline example will help you write an engaging and outstanding rhetorical analysis paper. Remember, your essay should be written logically and coherently. Therefore, edit your document and ensure that you use proper grammar and punctuation. Follow this outline for rhetorical analysis and you’ll be well on your way to coming up with a great essay!

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