• Glossary of Terms

Text Analysis: an examination of all means of communication in the final product. Specifically, text analysis moves from the larger to the smaller elements of the text to understand the purpose, audience, and context.  Example: If the text has blaring headlines and grainy, unflattering photos, there's a strong chance the text appears in a tabloid. Full color or even double-page photos of wildlife on heavy, glossy paper signal National Geographic or perhaps a less-known conservation magazine

Rhetorical Context: the situation in which a writer chooses to communicate a specific message to a specific reader or audience.  The writer needs to consider how to best communicate his/her ideas given the situation in which the reader will read the text.

Rhetorical Analysis:  an inquiry into all the factors that affect the shaping and reading of texts.  That is, rhetorical analysis queries: the motivation for the piece of writing, the potential reader for whom is the writer writing, how the author presents his/herself in the text, the presentation (i.e., genre) of the text, and the limitations of the text.

Genre Analysis:  an examination of the style and conventions used in a particular text that help readers understand the purpose of the text.  Example:  A writer asked to create a three-fold brochure for patients in a waiting room at an internist’s office will examine how information is presented to the reader.  Some key questions might include: how are images used? does the brochure use bullet points or prose paragraphs?  what are the relationships between each panel of information?

Audience Analysis:  examining the needs, desires, and goals of readers the author intends to reach.

Target Readers:  the specified audience identified by the organization and/or writer as people who will mostly likely need or be interested in the information presented in the text.  Example:  A non-profit scientific organization is interested in expanding its laboratory. The organization and/or writer will perform an audience analysis to see which part of their constituency will be inclined to donate money to assist in the effort. Ultimately, the writer will tailor the message and medium to meet the needs, desires, and goals of the specified audience.

Text-based interviews:  a research tool in which a reader can query the author about specific choices evident in the text that s/he made in composing the document, or the writer of the text can query potential readers on how they understand and respond to the text.

Journalistic documentation:  unlike typical academic writing that uses parenthetical citations and works cited sheets, journalistic documentation incorporates the sources in the prose.  That is, a writer using journalistic documentation might write: For decades researchers had little understanding of the correlation between pesticides and their depressive effects on migrant farmworkers. However, a recent NIH study has begun to make that correlation a bit stronger.  “For years we’ve understood this to be true ancedotally,” reported Dr. John Smith, director of the NIH’s Center for Rural Health, “but now we have concrete evidence that moves us beyond conversations and puts us in a position to address depression in this population.”

Visual Paragraphing:  shapes the prose of the document to fit the rhetorical context of the reader.  That is, the writer determines the length of each paragraph that appropriately fits content and format of the text.