What is Rhetorical Writing?

Rhetoric is the study of how words are used to persuade an audience. With a rhetorical analysis, people study how writing is put together to create a particular effect for the reader. So, on the flip side, rhetorical writing involves making conscious decisions to make your writing more effective. To break it down, there are 3 techniques of rhetorical writing to consider: ethos, logos, and pathos. Here are some things that you should know about these parts that make up the “rhetorical triangle.”


Ethos refers to the writer, or you. To persuade your readers, you need to build your credibility. Readers want to know who you are, why you’re competent to speak on the subject, and what your motive for writing may be. You may want to discuss your background, including your education, employment, or personal experiences. If you don’t have a background that shows you’re an expert, you can use credible resources and data to support your ideas and show that you know what you’re talking about.

You can also build your credibility through your writing. Watch your tone, style, voice, organization, word choice, and grammar and punctuation. Superior writing will show your level of professionalism and intelligence to your readers.


Logos comes from the same root as logic. When considering the logos of your writing, look at the actual content and organization of your ideas. Have you included plenty of data, research, and statistics to support your claims? How well do you use reasoning to persuade your audience? Is there a logical flow to your paper?

Logos begins with the pre-writing process. As you outline your paper, start with a strong introduction paragraph with a solid thesis before going into your supporting paragraphs. Also, be sure to include plenty of evidence to strengthen your claims.


The final piece of the rhetorical triangle is pathos, or the emotional appeal. This focuses on your audience and how you can appeal to their emotions. Emotions move people to act. If you want to persuade your readers to do something, appealing to their emotions will be very beneficial. So, try to connect with your audience by learning about them. Then, share stories, personal examples, questions to get your readers thinking about the subject, and other ways to appeal to their emotions.

The idea of rhetoric was first discussed by Aristotle in the 4th century. Since then, writers and speakers have used the rhetorical triangle to accomplish their goals of writing. As you work on the ethos, logos, and pathos in your rhetorical writing, you’ll find that you can achieve your writing goals and strengthen your persuasive arguments. To learn more about rhetorical devices you can use in your writing, don’t forget to check out our Professional Writing lessons!

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.

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