Rhetorical Appeals


An appeal is an attempt to earn audience approval or agreement by playing to natural human tendencies or common experiences: reason, emotion, and trust. The three main rhetorical appeals consist of ethos, pathos and logos. These three appeals will show in many different forms of writing. Such as blogs, social networks, online communities and wikis. An author may use one or two or all three kinds of appeal, depending on the rhetorical situation, to deliver his message to the audience.

Key Term



Ethos uses the author's own credibility and character to make a case and gain approval. "It names the persuasive appeal of one's character, especially how this character is established by means of the speech or discourse." Author's use themselves and their position as the expert, an authority or a right person to give their arguments. "Cicero said that in classical oratory the initial portion of a speech was the place to establish one's credibility with the audience."

Rhetorical Analysis written by Wilhoit suggest questions a reader should ask the text to discover its rhetorical effectiveness.



Most forms of advertising use ethos to sell their products and services. In particularly, commercials commonly use ethos to sell their product.

In this commercial, Nike uses a great tennis player, Roger Federer, to establish the credibility of Nike. In the commercial they are advertising Nike's sports apparel so using a great athlete to promote it makes the viewer believe that the Nike apparel must be good for athletes if one of the best athletes in the world uses it. In the commercial, they show Federer in his element, playing tennis, and being an overall great athlete. By showing what is possible for Federer when he is wearing the Nike apparel, it suggests to the viewer that they may also be able to accomplish great feats. If the commercial had not used actual footage of Federer swinging his racquet it would not be as convincing of a commercial. However, this website's success in using ethos is affected by the users' idioms of practice. This link provides a definition and examples of idioms of practice including this description, "People create idioms of practice by interacting with others and implicitly or explicitly defining the norms of using media." Since this website has many commercials that do not appear on television the idioms of practice of the viewers are important. If people start to have the belief that they shouldn't pay attention to commercials on the internet this site will go to the wayside.

In this commercial, Adidas uses Lionel Messi, a soccer player, to establish the credibility of the athletic apparel of Adidas. In this commercial they also use a number of other world famous athletes to promote the apparel. This commercial is similar to the last one in that each of them use athletes to portray the message that if you wear the same apparel that the athletes wear you can accomplish great feats too. The difference between this commercial and the last example is that this one shows many athletes which lends to the credibility of Adidas. If many great athletes use the apparel it is easier for the viewer to believe that it is as good as Adidas claims it to be.



Pathos invokes the audience's emotion to gain acceptance and approval for the ideas expressed. Pathos rhetoricians tap into the audience's sympathy and compassion, anger and disappointment, desire for love or sadness to convince the audience of the their argument.

Rhetorical Analysis written by Wilhoit suggest questions a reader should ask the text to discover its rhetorical effectiveness.



Sample Rhetorical Analysis: PATHOS
"Antony, addressing the crowd after Caesar's murder in Shakespeare's play, manages to stir them up to anger against the conspirators by drawing upon their pity. He does this by calling their attention to each of Caesar's dagger wounds, accomplishing this pathetic appeal through vivid descriptions combined with allusions to the betrayal of friendship made by Brutus, who made "the most unkindest cut of all":
Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through;
See what a rent the envious Casca made; 
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd,
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away, 
Mark how the blood of Caesar followed it, 
As rushing out of doors to be resolv'd
If Brutus so unkindly knock'd or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar lov'd him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
—Shakespeare, Julius Caesar 3.2.174-183"

From the Mayo Clinic website there was an article posted about the topic of organ donation, here are some quotes from this article:

"Enough people to populate a small city — over 100,000 — are waiting for an organ donation in the United States. Unfortunately, thousands never get the call saying that a suitable donor organ — and a second chance at life — has been found."

"By donating your organs after you die, you can save or improve as many as 50 lives. And many families say that knowing their loved one helped save other lives helped them cope with their loss."

"It can be hard to think about what's going to happen to your body after you die, let alone donating your organs and tissue. But being an organ donor is a generous and worthwhile decision that can be a lifesaver."

"Understanding organ donation can make you feel better about your choice. If you've delayed your decision to be a donor because of possibly inaccurate information, here are answers to some common organ donation myths and concerns."

These quotes are appealing to the readers emotions, this article is trying to gain sympathy for the families and patients waiting on an organ donation. One of the quotes states that "By donating your organs after you die, you can save or improve as many as 50 lives. And many families say that knowing their loved one helped save other lives helped them cope with their loss." This can bring out emotions in a person, it can make them think about if their family member was in that situation. In this article they show the readers the true shocking facts about how many people need organ donations. This article is supposed to open peoples eyes about this issue and makes your emotions kick in when reading it so the reader will want to accept the request to donate their organs when they have passed away. This article is put on a heath website for a reason. The writers of this article know that their audience, the people would may visit this site are interested in different heath issues. So the writers of the article knew that this article would be appropriate to put on this website. The topic of organ donation is relevant to this site so the writers of this article was able to target the correct audience.



In many situations, logical appeals using analysis and reasoning persuade the audiences. Cause and effect statements or lists of facts make effective logical appeals. Academic discussions are mostly logos-driven because academic audiences respect logic and evidence. Authors using logos rely on evidence and proof, whether the proof is hard data of careful reasoning. When authors create a series of evidence to persuade their audience they are using logos. Logos appeals usually are quantitative and the language corresponds with the topic.

Rhetorical Analysis written by Wilhoit suggest questions a reader should ask the text to discover its rhetorical effectiveness.




24/7 Wall Street is a site designed to provide a place for “Insightful Analysis and Commentary for U.S and Global Equity Investors”. From the title, it is obvious that the audience must have some connection and understanding of this language. In digital writing, the language used to create the rhetorical effect can create community building for the users. For example, this forum site has a strong logos rhetorical effect by providing statistical evidence, quantitative information, and language directed toward stocks and bonds. In the post, “Why Own 20% of Yahoo! (YHOO)” the writer uses logos to persuade viewers to NOT invest in Yahoo.

Microsoft supplies its search function to Yahoo! The deal gives Bing a much larger reach inthe search industry than it would have alone. That effectively allows it to be in the number twospot behind Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). It is questionable though that the extra audience Yahoo!brings helps Bing much at all. Google still has 65% of the U.S. market. That position is dominant enough that the Yahoo! and Microsoft partnership is less useful than Steve Ballmer thought at first. Ballmer does not need a new contract with Yahoo! anyway. It would take years and billions of dollars for Yahoo! to build an independent search operation again.

Logos is shown here for example when identifying the “Number two spot behind Google NASDAQ:GOOG)” This is evidence and it also provides information on the stock name. They have quantitative information that says Google owns 65% of the US market and that the number is too large to try and invest in Yahoo, the underdog. The writer states the claim of why investing in Yahoo would be a waste and he uses evidence and logic to prove it. Using the logos form of rhetoric appeal leaves the audience persuaded by factual information.

Read more: Why Own 20% of Yahoo! (YHOO)? - 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/2011/11/29/why-own-20-of-yahoo-yhoo/#ixzz1fEPOLsPu

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