Theo's overworked computer in a spray of sparks.

The audience is the group of people who may or may not be persuaded by the document. Analyzing the audience for a visual production may not be all too different from analyzing an audience for a solely textual work. However, unlike academic essays or short answers written on an examination, visual productions often have the potential to reach wider audiences. Additionally, unlike literature or poetry, visual documents are often more ingrained in our daily lives and encountered instead of sought.

The curious toddler  a grasshopper into her mouth.

A website might potentially have an audience of anyone with internet access; however, based on the site, there are audiences more likely to end up there than others. A pamphlet or flyer may also technically have an audience of anyone who finds it; however, their physical placements may provide clues for who the designer would most like to see them. This is often called a “target audience.” Identifying and proving the target audience may become a significant portion of your rhetorical analysis.


Francisco's comic book collection worth $20,000.00.

Potato chips  too loudly to eat during an exam.

Even though is often a verb, it can also be a noun. The of the potato chips, for example, is a thing, a sound that we can hear. You therefore need to analyze the function that a word provides in a sentence before you determine what grammatical name to give that word.


Chris the crunchy, honey-roasted grasshopper.

A visual document communicates primarily through images or the interaction of image and text. Just as writers choose their words and organize their thoughts based on any number of rhetorical considerations, the author of such visual documents thinks no differently. Whether assembling an advertisement, laying out a pamphlet, taking a photograph, or marking up a website, designers take great care to ensure that their productions are visually appealing and rhetorically effective.

The crunchy, honey-roasted grasshopper good.

isn't something that trailer parks can do. is simply connecting the subject, , to something said about them, that they tend to attract tornadoes.

The grasshopper good? You bet. Roast your own!

Can you ? Is something you can do? Can you ? Is there someone outside the window right now? Can you ? Do your obnoxious neighbors keep you up until 2 a.m. because they are ? Can you ? What does a person do when she's ? Can you ? Show me what is. Can you ? Bingo! Sure you can! Run five miles and you'll be panting. Can you ? Of course not! But can you ? You bet—although we don't need a demonstration of this ability. In the sentence above, therefore, there are two action verbs: and .

I the delicious aroma of the grilled octopus.

The goal of any rhetorical analysis is to demonstrate your understanding of how the piece communicates its messages and meanings. One way of looking at this process is that you are breaking the piece down into parts. By understanding how the different parts work, you can offer insights as to the overall persuasive strategies of the piece. Often you are not looking to place a value judgment on the piece, and if there is an implicit or implied argument you may not be ultimately taking a side.

The aroma of the grilled octopus appetizing.

It’s worth asking then: is rhetorical analysis of visual documents any different than this basic description? Yes and no. Sometimes you will encounter an interplay of words and images, which may complicate the number of rhetorical devices in play. Additionally, traditional schooling has emphasized analysis of certain texts for a long time. Many of us are not so accustomed to giving visual documents the same kind of rigorous attention.