Rhetorical Appeals

Rhetorical Appeal

Abbreviated Definition

Reflective Questions


appeal to credibility

You may want to think of ethos as related to “ethics,” or the moral principles of the writer: ethos is the author’s way of establishing trust with his or her reader.

  • Why should I (the reader) read what the writer has written?
  • How does the author cite that he or she has something valid and
    important for me to read?
  • Does the author mention his or her education or professional
    experience, or convince me that he or she is a valid, educated, and experienced source?


appeal to emotion

You may want to think of pathos as “empathy,” which pertains to the experience of or sensitivity toward emotion.

  • How is the writer trying to make me feel, or what has he or she
    written that makes me want to do something?
  • What specific parts of the author’s writing make me feel happy, sad,
    inspired, dejected, and so on?


appeal to logic

You may want to think of logos as “logic,” because
something that is logical “makes sense”—it is reasonable.

  • What evidence does the writer provide that convinces me that his or her argument is logical—that it makes sense?
  • What proof is the author offering me?


appeal to timeliness

You may want to think of kairos as the type of persuasion that pertains to “the right place and the right time.”

  • Does the writer make claims that are particularly important given
    what is happening right now?
  • How is the author “making the most of the moment” or attempting
    to speak to the concern of his or her audience?