Identifying Rhetorical Appeals: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos
Logos = Logic (Appeal to the mind/intellect, to reason)
The use of logic, rationality, and critical reasoning to persuade. Logos can be thought of as the text of the argument, and how well a writer has argued his/her point.
Some Examples of Logos
» draw from philosophy and logic
» If, then… statements
» definitions of terms
» explanation of ideas
» cause and effect
» details that come from objective reporting
» logical reasons and explanations
Pathos = Emotion (Appeal to the heart/emotion)
The use of emotion and affect to persuade. Pathos appeals to the heart and to one’s emotions and sympathetic imagination. Pathos can be thought of as the role of the audience in the argument.
Some Examples of Pathos
» draw from spirituality or religious traditions
» stories or testimonials
» personal anecdotes or stories
» personal connections
» imagery and figurative language that provokes an emotional response
» visual images or words that inspire you to empathize or have compassion towards the idea/topic
» powerful words, phrases, or images that stir up emotion
» details that come from subjective reporting
Ethos = Ethics and Credibility (Appeal that establishes the writer’s/speaker’s believability, qualifications, and character)
Ethos can be thought of as the writer in the argument, how credible his/her argument is. Ethos seeks to persuade the reader through appeals to ethics and character that the writer/speaker can be trusted and believed due to his/her noble character or ethical ways in which he/she is presenting ideas.
Some Examples of Ethos
» relevant biographical information
» use of credible sources (experts, scholars)
» accurate citation of sources: gives credit where credit is due
» experience and authority: person knows the issues/has experience in the field
» appropriate language: uses language of the discipline
» appropriate tone: knows the audience and context of situation
» humility: is not arrogant
Uses tentative yet authoritative language; avoids sweeping statements like “Everyone is doing this,” “This is the only way,” “This will always work.” Instead says, “The research suggests that,” “Some experts believe,” “In my experience,” etc.
Questions to help you recognize and utilize logos, ethos, and pathos
The following questions can be used in two ways, both to think about how you are using logos, ethos, and pathos in your writing, and also to assess how other writers use them in their writing.
» Is the thesis clear and specific?
» Is the thesis supported by strong reasons and credible evidence?
» Is the argument logical and arranged in a well-reasoned order?
» What are the writer’s qualifications? How has the writer connected him/herself to the topic being discussed?
» Does the writer demonstrate respect for multiple viewpoints by using sources in the text?
» Are sources credible? Are sources documented appropriately?
» Does the writer use a tone that is suitable for the audience/purpose? Is the word choice appropriate for the audience/purpose?
» Is the document presented in a polished and professional manner?
» Are vivid examples, details, and images used to engage the reader’s emotions and imagination?
» Does the writer appeal to the values and beliefs of the reader by using examples readers can relate to or care about?
While the above questions can help you identify or utilize logos, ethos, and pathos in writing, it is important to remember that sometimes a particular aspect of a text will represent more than one of these appeals. For example, using credible sources could be considered both logos and ethos, as the sources help support the logic or reasoning of the text, and they also help portray the writer as thoughtful and engaged with the topic. This overlap reminds us how these appeals work together to create effective writing.
Purpose & Audience
- To develop your understanding of rhetoric by investigating how a writer constructed a professional document or text in your major field
- To practice analytical thinking and clear writing
Audience: Your instructor, your classmates, and other faculty members on the ENGL & LLD 100A review committee.
Step 1: Select a document to analyze
Choose a piece of writing that was written by a professional in your major or a field that is closely related to your major. The text should be at least 3 pages long so that you will have enough material to analyze and write about.
These writings may include, but are not limited to:
- Academic and trade publications (journals, newsletters, articles)
- Company web sites (Internet and Intranet)
- Professional society web sites (e.g., Federal or State Bar Association, the National Association of State Foresters, Society for Technical Communication, etc.)
- Internal correspondence (the audience is within the same company or organization as the writer), for example: memos, policy & procedure documents, reports such as audit reports, project status reports, proposals, lab reports, etc.
- External correspondence (the audience is outside the same company or organization as the writer), for example: letters or reports to customers or vendors, sales or marketing materials, external blogs, newsletters, etc.
Note: There are many sample documents available on the web. Use a Google search to find these in your discipline. You can also ask people you know who are working in your major field for a document they may have written. Ask your professors in your major courses for suggestions as well.
Step 2: Analyze the paper you selected
As a preliminary step, before you actually write the first draft of your paper, try to answer the following questions about the document you are analyzing:
- What do you think was the author’s purpose in producing this writing?
- Who was the intended audience?
- What genre does it represent?
- What style and tone did the author use? (formal, informal)
- What rhetorical appeals did the writer use? (ethos, pathos, and logos—these terms will be explained in class)
- What strategies were used to develop ideas? (description, narration, process analysis, compare and contrast, cause and effect, etc.)
- How is the text organized, and why do you think the author chose this particular organizational pattern? Is there a particular format that is used?
- Why do you think the author included or omitted particular information?
- What kinds of evidence did the author include to support his/her point of view, and how was that evidence used?
Step 3: Decide which rhetorical appeals and strategies you will focus on in your paper. A writer might use many appeals and strategies, but some are more important than others in achieving the writer’s purpose. So you need to be selective; choose those that you think are the most important (or most interesting) and write about them in your body paragraphs.
Step 4: Write your first draft (see “Suggested Organization”).
Step 5: Participate in Peer Review of First Draft
On the day of the peer review, bring to class the following:
- A copy of your first draft (approximately 1300 words; see “Suggested Organization”)
- A copy of the document that you analyzed
- A copy of the peer review form
Step 6: Write the Second Draft for Teacher Conference
Use the feedback from your peer reviewer to guide you as you revise and create a second draft. When you come to the conference, bring the following:
- A copy of the paper that you analyzed
- Your second draft (aim for 1500 words)
- Your peer reviewer’s comments
Step 7: Write and submit the Third Draft (in most cases, this will be the Final Draft)
Using the feedback you got from your instructor, revise your paper and submit it to Canvas online as well as submitting a hard copy in class. Please follow the format guidelines given below.
Suggested Organization of your Paper
Write an introductory paragraph with several sentences that do the following:
- Discuss in general how/why writers use rhetorical writing to achieve their purpose.
- Introduce the paper you plan to analyze. Identify the author and describe the circumstances under which the paper was written. (You may have to guess based on the content and purpose.) Give the full title of the paper, when it was written and who was the intended audience. Describe what you think was the writer’s purpose: What did he/she want to achieve? What do you think the author wanted the reader to think or do after reading this paper?
- Identify the rhetorical appeals and strategies used by the author, and identify those that you plan to discuss in your analysis (preview statement). Note that you do not have to discuss in depth all of the strategies the author uses.
Each paragraph in the body should have its own topic sentence and a unified focus. For this analysis, you could write one paragraph on each of the rhetorical appeals/strategies you mentioned in the introduction. In each of these body paragraphs, it is useful to:
- Define the rhetorical appeal/strategy you are going to write about (you may quote or paraphrase from your course readings)
- Quote or paraphrase 2-3 examples from the document that illustrate the use of that appeal/strategy
- Explain how or why the example illustrates the appeal/strategy and how the appeal/strategy contributed to author’s purpose
The purpose of the conclusion is to (a) summarize briefly the main points of your analysis and (b) explain the significance of your analysis by considering the following questions:
- What conclusions can you draw about the role in general of rhetorical appeals and strategies in producing clear communication through writing?
- Was the author successful in using the various rhetorical appeals and strategies for the intended audience and purpose? Give examples.
- What changes might you recommend to the author to better achieve his/her purpose?
- Your final draft should be approximately 1500 words, with 1-inch margins and 12 point font, 1.5 spaced, Times Roman font. Double space between paragraphs; use headings and subheadings for the sections to guide the reader. Please number your pages.
- The final draft of the report is to be submitted on Canvas online and in hard copy form to your instructor.
- Make sure you save your document as a Word document. The Canvas submission should be in .doc or .docx format.
Things to Keep For Your Portfolio
- A copy of this assignment sheet
- A copy of the document that you chose to analyze.
- All drafts produced for this assignment.
- A copy of instructor comments and peer reviews on your earlier drafts.
- A clean (unmarked) copy of your final draft
|First draft due (1300 words min); Mandatory peer review
|Wednesday, June 11
|Mandatory conference with instructor and bring a 2nd draft based on peer review (1400 words min)
|week of June 16-18
|Final draft due on Canvas (1500 words)
|Monday, June 23
 This assignment has been adapted from a similar one developed by Julian Heather and Fiona Glade at CSU Sacramento.