Organizing Your Analysis
This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.
Contributors:Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2015-08-30 05:01:04
There is no one perfect way to organize a rhetorical analysis essay. In fact, writers should always be a bit leery of plug-in formulas that offer a perfect essay format. Remember, organization itself is not the enemy, only organization without considering the specific demands of your particular writing task. That said, here are some general tips for plotting out the overall form of your essay.
Like any rhetorical analysis essay, an essay analyzing a visual document should quickly set the stage for what you’re doing. Try to cover the following concerns in the initial paragraphs:
- Make sure to let the reader know you’re performing a rhetorical analysis. Otherwise, they may expect you to take positions or make an evaluative argument that may not be coming.
- Clearly state what the document under consideration is and possibly give some pertinent background information about its history or development. The intro can be a good place for a quick, narrative summary of the document. The key word here is “quick, for you may be dealing with something large (for example, an entire episode of a cartoon like the Simpsons). Save more in-depth descriptions for your body paragraph analysis.
- If you’re dealing with a smaller document (like a photograph or an advertisement), and copyright allows, the introduction or first page is a good place to integrate it into your page.
- Give a basic run down of the rhetorical situation surrounding the document: the author, the audience, the purpose, the context, etc.
Thesis Statements and Focus
Many authors struggle with thesis statements or controlling ideas in regards to rhetorical analysis essays. There may be a temptation to think that merely announcing the text as a rhetorical analysis is purpose enough. However, especially depending on your essay’s length, your reader may need a more direct and clear statement of your intentions. Below are a few examples.
1. Clearly narrow the focus of what your essay will cover. Ask yourself if one or two design aspects of the document is interesting and complex enough to warrant a full analytical treatment.
The website for Amazon.com provides an excellent example of alignment and proximity to assist its visitors in navigating a potentially large and confusing amount of information.
2. Since visual documents often seek to move people towards a certain action (buying a product, attending an event, expressing a sentiment), an essay may analyze the rhetorical techniques used to accomplish this purpose. The thesis statement should reflect this goal.
The call-out flyer for the Purdue Rowing Team uses a mixture of dynamic imagery and tantalizing promises to create interest in potential, new members.
3. Rhetorical analysis can also easily lead to making original arguments. Performing the analysis may lead you to an argument; or vice versa, you may start with an argument and search for proof that supports it.
A close analysis of the female body images in the July 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine reveals contradictions between the articles’ calls for self-esteem and the advertisements’ unrealistic, beauty demands.
These are merely suggestions. The best measure for what your focus and thesis statement should be the document itself and the demands of your writing situation. Remember that the main thrust of your thesis statement should be on how the document creates meaning and accomplishes its purposes. The OWl has additional information on writing thesis statements.
Analysis Order (Body Paragraphs)
Depending on the genre and size of the document under analysis, there are a number of logical ways to organize your body paragraphs. Below are a few possible options. Which ever you choose, the goal of your body paragraphs is to present parts of the document, give an extended analysis of how that part functions, and suggest how the part ties into a larger point (your thesis statement or goal).
This is the most straight-forward approach, but it can also be effective if done for a reason (as opposed to not being able to think of another way). For example, if you are analyzing a photo essay on the web or in a booklet, a chronological treatment allows you to present your insights in the same order that a viewer of the document experiences those images. It is likely that the images have been put in that order and juxtaposed for a reason, so this line of analysis can be easily integrated into the essay.
Be careful using chronological ordering when dealing with a document that contains a narrative (i.e. a television show or music video). Focusing on the chronological could easily lead you to plot summary which is not the point of a rhetorical analysis.
A spatial ordering covers the parts of a document in the order the eye is likely to scan them. This is different than chronological order, for that is dictated by pages or screens where spatial order concerns order amongst a single page or plane. There are no unwavering guidelines for this, but you can use the following general guidelines.
- Left to right and top to down is still the normal reading and scanning pattern for English-speaking countries.
- The eye will naturally look for centers. This may be the technical center of the page or the center of the largest item on the page.
- Lines are often used to provide directions and paths for the eye to follow.
- Research has shown that on web pages, the eye tends to linger in the top left quadrant before moving left to right. Only after spending a considerable amount of time on the top, visible portion of the page will they then scroll down.
The classic, rhetorical appeals are logos, pathos, and ethos. These concepts roughly correspond to the logic, emotion, and character of the document’s attempt to persuade. You can find more information on these concepts elsewhere on the OWL. Once you understand these devices, you could potentially order your essay by analyzing the document’s use of logos, ethos, and pathos in different sections.
The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis essay may not operate too differently from the conclusion of any other kind of essay. Still, many writers struggle with what a conclusion should or should not do. You can find tips elsewhere on the OWL on writing conclusions. In short, however, you should restate your main ideas and explain why they are important; restate your thesis; and outline further research or work you believe should be completed to further your efforts.
1. Werdin F, Tenenhaus M, Rennekampff H-O. Chronic wound care. The Lancet. 2008;372(9653):1860–1862.[PubMed]
2. Martin P. Wound healing-aiming for perfect skin regeneration. Science. 1997;276(5309):75–81.[PubMed]
3. Yamada N, Li W, Ihaya A, et al. Platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor gene therapy for limb ischemia. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2006;44(6):1322–1328.[PubMed]
4. Papanas N, Maltezos E. Growth factors in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers: new technologies, any promises? The International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds. 2007;6(1):37–53.[PubMed]
5. Kim HS, Noh SU, Han YW, et al. Therapeutic effects of topical application of ozone on acute cutaneous wound healing. Journal of Korean Medical Science. 2009;24(3):368–374.[PMC free article][PubMed]
6. Valacchi G, Lim Y, Zanardi I, Bocci V, Travagli V. Evaluation of ozonated sesame oil effect in wound healing using the SKH1 mice as a model. In: Proceeding of the 7th World Meeting on Pharmaceutics, Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology; March 2010; Valletta, Malta.
7. Napolitano A, Panzella L, Savarese M, et al. Acid-induced structural modifications of unsaturated fatty acids and phenolic olive oil constituents by nitrite ions: a chemical assessment. Chemical Research in Toxicology. 2004;17(10):1329–1337.[PubMed]
8. Rappolt RT., Sr. The ozone generator. Clinical Toxicology. 1972;5(3):419–425.[PubMed]
9. Sega A, Zanardi I, Chiasserini L, Gabbrielli A, Bocci V, Travagli V. Properties of sesame oil by detailed 1H and 13C NMR assignments before and after ozonation and their correlation with iodine value, peroxide value, and viscosity measurements. Chemistry and Physics of Lipids. 2010;163(2):148–156.[PubMed]
10. Zanardi I, Travagli V, Gabbrielli A, Chiasserini L, Bocci V. Physico-chemical characterization of sesame oil derivatives. Lipids. 2008;43(9):877–886.[PubMed]
11. Martinez Tellez G, Ledea Lozano O, Díaz Gómez M. Measurement of peroxidic species in ozonized sunflower oil. Ozone: Science and Engineering. 2006;28(3):181–185.
12. Bassett DJP, Bowen-Kelly E, Elbon CL, Reichenbaugh SS. Rat lung recovery from 3 days of continuous exposure to 0.75 ppm ozone. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. 1988;25(3):329–347.[PubMed]
13. Fiévez L, Kirschvink N, Dogné S, et al. Impaired accumulation of granulocytes in the lung during ozone adaptation. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2001;31(5):633–641.[PubMed]
14. Moss OR, Gross EA, James RA, et al. Research Report. 100. Health Effects Institute; 2001. Respiratory tract toxicity in rats exposed to Mexico City air. [PubMed]
15. van Bree L, Dormans JAMA, Boere AJF, Rombout PJA. Time study on development and repair of lung injury following ozone exposure in rats. Inhalation Toxicology. 2001;13(8):703–718.[PubMed]
16. Thiele JJ, Traber MG, Re R, et al. Macromolecular carbonyls in human stratum corneum: a biomarker for environmental oxidant exposure? FEBS Letters. 1998;422(3):403–406.[PubMed]
17. Valacchi G, van der Vliet A, Schock BC, et al. Ozone exposure activates oxidative stress responses in murine skin. Toxicology. 2002;179(1-2):163–170.[PubMed]
18. Valacchi G, Pagnin E, Okamoto T, et al. Induction of stress proteins and MMP-9 by 0.8 ppm of ozone in murine skin. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 2003;305(3):741–746.[PubMed]
19. Valacchi G, Pagnin E, Corbacho AM, et al. In vivo ozone exposure induces antioxidant/stress-related responses in murine lung and skin. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2004;36(5):673–681.[PubMed]
20. Valacchi G, Pecorelli A, Mencarelli M, Maioli E, Davis PA. Beta-carotene prevents ozone-induced proinflammatory markers in murine skin. Toxicology and Industrial Health. 2009;25(4-5):241–247.[PubMed]
21. Schurer NY, Plewig G, Elias PM. Stratum corneum lipid function. Dermatologica. 1991;183(2):77–94.[PubMed]
22. Schürer NY, Elias PM. The biochemistry and function of stratum corneum lipids. Advances in Lipid Research. 1991;24:27–56.[PubMed]
23. Weber SU, Thiele JJ, Cross CE, Packer L. Vitamin C, uric acid, and glutathione gradients in murine stratum corneum and their susceptibility to ozone exposure. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 1999;113(6):1128–1132.[PubMed]
24. Brenneisen P, Sies H, Scharffetter-Kochanek K. Ultraviolet-B irradiation and matrix metalloproteinases: from induction via signaling to initial events. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2002;973:31–43.[PubMed]
25. McCawley LJ, Matrisian LM. Matrix metalloproteinases: they’re not just for matrix anymore! Current Opinion in Cell Biology. 2001;13(5):534–540.[PubMed]
26. Koivukangas V, Kallioinen M, Autio-Harmainen H, Oikarinen A. UV irradiation induces the expression of gelatinases in human skin in vivo. Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 1994;74(4):279–282.[PubMed]
27. Rijken F, Kiekens RCM, Bruijnzeel PLB. Skin-infiltrating neutrophils following exposure to solar-simulated radiation could play an important role in photoageing of human skin. British Journal of Dermatology. 2005;152(2):321–328.[PubMed]
28. Suomela S, Kariniemi A-L, Snellman E, Saarialho-Kere U. Metalloelastase (MMP-12) and 92-kDa gelatinase (MMP-9) as well as their inhibitors, TIMP-1 and -3, are expressed in psoriatic lesions. Experimental Dermatology. 2001;10(3):175–183.[PubMed]
29. Devillers ACA, van Toorenenbergen AW, Klein Heerenbrink GJ, Mulder PGH, Oranje AP. Elevated levels of plasma matrix metalloproteinase-9 in patients with atopic dermatitis: a pilot study. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. 2007;32(3):311–313.[PubMed]
30. Zhang J, Cao Y-J, Zhao Y-G, Sang Q-XA, Duan E-K. Expression of matrix metalloproteinase-26 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-4 in human normal cytotrophoblast cells and a choriocarcinoma cell line, JEG-3. Molecular Human Reproduction. 2002;8(7):659–666.[PubMed]
31. He QC, Tavakkol A, Wietecha K, Begum-Gafur R, Ansari SA, Polefka T. Effects of environmentally realistic levels of ozone on stratum corneum function. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2006;28(5):349–357.[PubMed]
32. Ballas CB, Davidson JM. Delayed wound healing in aged rats is associated with increased collagen gel remodeling and contraction by skin fibroblasts, not with differences in apoptotic or myofibroblast cell populations. Wound Repair and Regeneration. 2001;9(3):223–237.[PubMed]
33. Werner S, Grose R. Regulation of wound healing by growth factors and cytokines. Physiological Reviews. 2003;83(3):835–870.[PubMed]
34. Grove GL, Kligman AM. Age-associated changes in human epidermal cell renewal. Journals of Gerontology. 1983;38(2):137–142.[PubMed]
35. Valacchi G, Bocci V. Studies on the biological effects of ozone: 10. Release of factors from ozonated human platelets. Mediators of Inflammation. 1999;8(4-5):205–209.[PMC free article][PubMed]
36. Leask A, Abraham DJ. The role of connective tissue growth factor, a multifunctional matricellular protein, in fibroblast biology. Biochemistry and Cell Biology. 2003;81(6):355–363.[PubMed]
37. Bulynin VI, Ermakova AI, Glukhov AA, Mozhurov IP. Wound treatment using the flow of an ozonized solution under high pressure. Khirurgiia. 1998;(8):23–24.[PubMed]
38. Gajendrareddy PK, Sen CK, Horan MP, Marucha PT. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy ameliorates stress-impaired dermal wound healing. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2005;19(3):217–222.[PubMed]
39. Byun M-S, Jeon K-I, Choi J-W, Shim J-Y, Jue D-M. Dual effect of oxidative stress on NF-κB activation in HeLa cells. Experimental and Molecular Medicine. 2002;34(5):332–339.[PubMed]
40. Leask A, Abraham DJ. TGF-β signaling and the fibrotic response. The FASEB Journal. 2004;18(7):816–827.[PubMed]
41. Stoker G. The surgical use of ozone. The Lancet. 1916;188(4860):p. 712.
42. Stoker G. The surgical use of ozone. The Lancet. 1917;189(4891):p. 797.
43. Hanhart E. Über Ozonbehandlung in der Chirurgie. Munchener medizinische Wochenschrift. 1935;82:220–291.
44. Werkmeister H. Dekubitalgeschwüre und die Behandlung mit der Ozon-Unterdruckbegasung. In: Viebahn-Hänsler R, Knoch HG, et al., editors. Ozon-Handbuch. Grundlagen. Prävention. Therapie, V-7.1. 2001. pp. 1–22.
45. Viebahn-Hänsler R. The Use of Ozone in Medicine. 5th edition. ODREI Publishers; 2007.
46. Travagli V, Zanardi I, Bocci V. Topical applications of ozone and ozonated oils as anti-infective agents: an insight into the patent claims. Recent Patents on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery. 2009;4(2):130–142.[PubMed]
47. Wu SH, Zecha PJ, Feitz R, Hovius SER. Vacuum therapy as an intermediate phase in wound closure: a clinical experience. European Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2000;23(4):174–177.
48. van den Boogaard M, de Laat E, Spauwen P, Schoonhoven L. The effectiveness of topical negative pressure in the treatment of pressure ulcers: a literature review. European Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2008;31(1):1–7.
49. Hunter S, Langemo D, Thompson P, Hanson D, Anderson J. Maggot therapy for wound management. Advances in Skin & Wound Care. 2009;22(1):25–27.[PubMed]
50. Gordillo GM, Roy S, Khanna S, et al. Topical oxygen therapy induces vascular endothelial growth factor expression and improves closure of clinically presented chronic wounds. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology. 2008;35(8):957–964.[PMC free article][PubMed]
51. Gordillo GM, Sen CK. Evidence-based recommendations for the use of topical oxygen therapy in the treatment of lower extremity wounds. The International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds. 2009;8(2):105–111.[PMC free article][PubMed]
52. Sen CK, Gordillo GM, Roy S, et al. Human skin wounds: a major and snowballing threat to public health and the economy. Wound Repair and Regeneration. 2009;17(6):763–771.[PMC free article][PubMed]
53. Bocci V, Borrelli E, Travagli V, Zanardi I. The ozone paradox: ozone is a strong oxidant as well as a medical drug. Medicinal Research Reviews. 2009;29(4):646–682.[PubMed]
54. Menéndez S, Re L, Falcón L, et al. Safety of topical Oleozon® in the treatment of tinea pedis: phase IV clinical trial. International Journal of Ozone Therapy. 2008;7(1):55–59.
55. Menéndez S, Falcón L, Maqueira Y. Therapeutic efficacy of topically Oleozon® in patients suffering from onychomycosis. Mycoses. In press. [PubMed]