Article Selection and Analysis


Choose an article to read and analyze for this assignment. See the “Choosing an Article” section below for details.

Read the article that you will be analyzing.

Read the article a second time. As you read, identify the thesis, and think about who the intended audience might be.

Research the author to learn about their background. You do not need to include biographical information about the author in your rhetorical analysis essay, but if you do choose to include such information, be sure to cite your source(s) appropriately.

Learn more about the magazine, website, journal, or other venue in which the article was originally published. This might also tell you something about who the intended audience is. Again, you do not need to include this information in your own essay, but if it is relevant or interesting, you may include it; if you do so, be sure to cite your source(s) appropriately.

Return to the article again. Investigate how the writer gets their message across. Think analytically about the article, and take notes about the rhetorical style or techniques that the author employs. Specifically, take note of anything that really stands out—and is repeated. Identify several big things the writer does to get the message to the reader. For an essay of this length, we suggest that you find at least two big things and no more than three.


Your tutor might want the big things you discuss to be ethos, pathos, and logos. Check with your tutor to find out their preference.

Depending on your tutor’s preference, you might also be asked to evaluate the success of the writer’s rhetoric, but some tutors will ask you to avoid this entirely. Check with your tutor to find out their preference.

Create an outline for your essay and plan what you will discuss in each section. Your essay must include the following sections:

An introductory paragraph that names the article’s author and title and provides any background information you think is necessary. For instance, you might find it important to name the publication (magazine, website, etc.) in which the essay was published and the target audience of that publication, or to mention biographical information about the author. Include a brief summary (synopsis) of the article, and then transition into a re-statement of the article’s thesis. End the paragraph with your own thesis statement, which will express how you think the author conveys their thesis and what you will examine in your rhetorical analysis.

Remember, if you include biographical information about the author or information about the publication, you will need to properly cite the source where you found that information.

Hint: See the Unit 6 lesson for examples of introductory rhetorical analysis paragraphs.

Body paragraphs, each of which will explain one of the author’s primary writing techniques. Each body paragraph should be straightforward, with a topic sentence identifying the technique to be discussed, followed by sentences that provide examples of that technique in the context of the essay. If necessary, the paragraph can conclude with a sentence or two describing the overall effect of this technique within the essay. Begin the next body paragraph with a transition sentence.

A concluding paragraph that speaks to the overall impact of the article. What does the article leave readers thinking about? What is its impact? Do not simply repeat things you mentioned in your introduction and body paragraphs.

Return to the Unit 6 lesson for greater detail on what is involved in each of these sections of a rhetorical analysis essay.

Write a first draft. Keep in mind that your rhetorical analysis essay must be approximately 1,000 to 1,200 words in length (about four double-spaced typed pages). If your essay exceeds the length requirement, it might be returned to you for revision.

Cite every source that you quote, summarize, or paraphrase. This means including proper parenthetical citations as well as a bibliography page that lists every source you cited in your essay. (In MLA style, this page is titled “Works Cited,” while in APA style it is titled “References.”) Take this task seriously. We expect you to pay very close attention to detail and follow samples for each entry. We recommend the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)  for all citation matters.

Revise your draft multiple times.

Consider using the Write Site’s coaching support . Your tutor is not expected or encouraged to review your drafts, but reviewing drafts is one of the mandates of the AU Write Site.

Review the assignment checklist and answer the questions honestly. Revise your essay further if necessary.

When you’re ready, upload your assignment through the assignment drop box below, and then click “Submit assignment.”

Choosing an Article

Select an essay or article and analyze the rhetorical strategies the writer uses to persuade readers. To find the article that you will analyze, you can take one of the following approaches:

Ask your tutor to recommend non-fiction articles that might be appropriate choices for this assignment. You can then choose an article from among the options your tutor recommends.

Choose from this list of recently published articles:

  1. Choose from this list of recently published articles:
  1. Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? ” by Jean M. Twenge
    1. Who Gets to Be the ‘Good Schizophrenic’? ” by Esmé Weijun Wang
    1. The Death of Honesty ” by William Damon
    1. Daddy Issues ” by Sandra Tsing Loh
    1. The Vegan Carnivore? ” by Julian Baggini
    1. How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually ” by Max Read

Did you use MLA or APA guidelines to format your essay? Did you check your formatting against examples on the Purdue OWL?

Did you introduce the reading by identifying the author, the title, and the subject matter? Did you put the title of the essay in quotation marks?

Following that sentence of introduction, did you briefly summarize the article’s thesis and main points?

Is your thesis the last sentence of the first paragraph?

Did you include an essay map/preview statement with your thesis sentence?

Have you used third-person point of view throughout? Make sure you have not shifted into first-person or second-person point of view.

Does each body paragraph begin with a topic sentence? Does each body paragraph contain at least two supporting points, and then end with a closing sentence?

Did you use a transitional word, phrase, or sentence at the beginning of each body paragraph? Did you use transitional words and phrases as necessary to connect sentences within the paragraphs?

Did you include quotations from the article? As you did so, did you follow the required steps?

Did you check each quotation to determine whether you integrated it?

Did you make sure that no paragraph (excepting the conclusion) ends with a quotation?

Does the concluding paragraph speak to the overall impact of the article, to what the article leaves readers thinking about?

Is the Works Cited page or References list formatted correctly?

Did you revise very carefully for grammar and mechanics?

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