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Strategy #1: Reading electronic texts rhetorically

Writers of electronic texts consider both content and design. For students to increase their focus and comprehension, they should examine both the content and the function of design using rhetorical analysis.

Here are some questions you could give to students to help them analyze rhetorical appeals:

Ethos--Understanding Authority/Credibility of an Electronic Text:

  • Who is responsible for this electronic text? Are there additional sponsors of this text?
  • If the domain name ends in .edu, .gov, .org, .net, or .com, how is this meaningful in evaluating the purpose and credibility of the text?
  • Are there grammar or spelling errors? What do these tell us about the ethos of the author(s)?
  • Are there color schemes or font choices that seem innappropriate? What do these tell us about the ethos of the author(s)?
  • Is there an e-mail link for questions or comments? Why would a webpage provide this?
  • How would you rate the overall credibility of this electronic text? Why?

Pathos--Understanding Usability/Design of an Electronic Text:

  • Is the text easy to navigate and read? What emotional response does this elicit from the reader?
  • Do all the design elements such as graphics, art, buttons, colors, and fonts enhance the message and purpose of the text? How do they make the reader feel?
  • Is there consistency in the fonts, colors, and page layout? How does this effect the emotional state of the reader?
  • Are there options for accessing information such as links, menu of topics, keyword searches, or site maps? How does their design and layout effect the reader?
  • How would you rate the emotional impact of this electronic text's design? Why?

Logos--Understanding the Content of an Electronic Text:

  • What types of evidence are utilized to support the content of the text? Is it adequate and convincing?
  • Are hyperlinks used to connect the content of the text elsewhere? What are they linked to? Why? How does this add to the logos of the presentation?
  • How would you rate the logical appeal of the information from this electronic text? Why?

You may want to have students practice rhetorical analysis by selecting a few websites related to your course content.

(Rhetorical appeals are addressed in more detail in the module titled Reading Rhetorically.)