Follow the assignment closely!  A textual analysis, like any other writing, has to have a specific audience and purpose, and you must carefully write it to serve that audience and fulfill that specific purpose.

�          In any analysis, the first sentence or the topic sentence mentions the title, author and main point of the article, and is written in grammatically correct English.

�          An analysis is written in your own words and takes the text apart bit by bit . It usually includes very few quotes but many references to the original text. It analyzes the text somewhat like a forensics lab analyzes evidence for clues: carefully, meticulously and in fine detail.  

�          In this particular type of reading analysis, you are not looking at all of the main ideas in a text, or the structure of the text.  Instead, y ou are given a question that has you explore just one or two main ideas in the text and you have to explain in detail what the text says about the assigned idea(s), focusing only on the content of the text.   Do not include your own response to the text.

�          An analysis is very specific, and should not include vague, poofy generalities.

�          The most common serious errors in this type of text analysis are * including irrelevant ideas from the text, * inserting your own opinions, or * omitting key relevant information from the text.

�            Any analysis is very closely focused on the text being analyzed, and is not the place to introduce your own original lines of thought, opinions, discussion or reaction on the ideas in question.  

�          When you quote anything from the original text, even an unusual word or a catchy phrase, you need to put whatever you quote in quotation marks (� �).  A good rule of thumb is that if the word or phrase you quote is not part of your own ordinary vocabulary (or the ordinary vocabulary of your intended audience), use quotation marks.  Quotes should be rare.

�          An analysis should end appropriately with a sense of closure (and not just stop because you run out of things to write!) and should finish up with a renewed emphasis on the ideas in question. However, DO NOT repeat what you wrote at the beginning of the analysis. 

�          It is not possible to analyze a text without reading the text through carefully first and understanding it.      

In an effective reading analysis paper:

Surface errors are few and do not distract the reader. 

OW ENGL 0310 rev 2/06

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Analyzing a Text

Written texts.

When you analyze an essay or article, consider these questions:

  • What is the thesis or central idea of the text?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What questions does the author address?
  • How does the author structure the text?
  • What are the key parts of the text?
  • How do the key parts of the text interrelate?
  • How do the key parts of the text relate to the thesis?
  • What does the author do to generate interest in the argument?
  • How does the author convince the readers of their argument’s merit?
  • What evidence is provided in support of the thesis?
  • Is the evidence in the text convincing?
  • Has the author anticipated opposing views and countered them?
  • Is the author’s reasoning sound?

Visual Texts

When you analyze a piece of visual work, consider these questions:

  • What confuses, surprises, or interests you about the image?
  • In what medium is the visual?
  • Where is the visual from?
  • Who created the visual?
  • For what purpose was the visual created?
  • Identify any clues that suggest the visual’s intended audience.
  • How does this image appeal to that audience?
  • In the case of advertisements, what product is the visual selling?
  • In the case of advertisements, is the visual selling an additional message or idea?
  • If words are included in the visual, how do they contribute to the meaning?
  • Identify design elements – colors, shapes, perspective, and background – and speculate how they help to convey the visual’s meaning or purpose.

About Writing: A Guide Copyright © 2015 by Robin Jeffrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

writing an analysis of text


Course Overview and Policy Statements

CO301 as a Core Course

Core Detail: Instructional Modes

Core Detail: Course Objectives

Core Detail: Weekly Schedule

Core Detail: Methods of Evaluation

Sample Weekly Outline


Portfolio Overview - Thomas

Portfolio Process Requirements - Thomas

Portfolio Grading (Holtcamp)

Portfolios: Promises, Problems, Practices (Kiefer)

Traditional And/Or Portfolio Grading? (Gogela)

Defining the Humanities

Collaborative Activity - Myers

Humanities Defined - Myers

Text Analysis

Text Analysis Assignments

Individual Topics

Individual Topic Assignments

Individual Topic Activities

Reflective Writing

Analyzing a Written Text - Thomas


Topic and Position




First two paragraphs: The authors critique other people's readings of the novel.

Paragraph 3: They explains that their own reading is more accurate because it accounts for the details others leave out.

Drawing Conclusions

  • If you were trying to write for this publication, what are the most important or notable conventions that you would have to follow? In other words, what strategies would you use in order to prove yourself to be a successful writer in this field?
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How to Analyze Texts

Last Updated: February 15, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 88,592 times.

Throughout your academic studies, you’ll be expected to analyze many texts. Analyzing a text on your own can be very intimidating, but it gets easier once you know how to do it. Before analyzing any text, you’ll need to thoroughly study it. Then, tailor your analysis to fit either fiction or nonfiction. Finally, you can write an analysis passage, if necessary.

Studying the Text

Step 1 Write out essential questions or learning objectives for the text.

  • Include your answers to these questions or objectives in your notes about the text.

Step 2 Read the text.

  • Although it’s best to read the text at least twice, this may be harder with longer texts. If this is the case, you can re-read difficult passages within the book.

Step 3 Annotate...

  • For example, use a yellow highlighter to indicate main ideas, and use an orange highlighter to mark the supporting details.
  • For fiction, use a different colored highlighter for passages related to each main character.

Step 4 Take notes as you read.

  • For a fiction text, write down the names and basic information about characters. Additionally, make note of any symbolism and use of literary devices.
  • For a nonfiction text, write down important facts, figures, methods, and dates.

Step 5 Summarize each section of the text.

  • For example, summarize each chapter of a novel. On the other hand, summarize each paragraph of a small article.

Step 6 Write out your own response to the text.

  • What am I taking away from the piece?
  • How do I feel about the topic?
  • Did this text entertain me or inform me?
  • What will I do with this information now?
  • How does this text apply to real life?

Step 7 Make a reverse...

  • For a work of fiction, outline the plot of the story, as well as any important details and literary devices.
  • For a nonfiction text, focus on the main points, evidence, and supporting details.

Step 8 Read other analyses of the text.

  • These analyses are easy to find through a quick internet search. Just type in the name of your text followed by the word, "analysis."

Examining Fiction

Step 1 Review the context of the text, such as when it was written.

  • When was the text written?
  • What is the historical background of the work?
  • What is the author’s background?
  • What genre does the author work in?
  • Who are the author's contemporaries?
  • How does this text fit in with the author's larger body of work?
  • Did the writer provide their inspiration for the text?
  • What type of society does the author come from?
  • How does the text’s time period shape its meaning?

Step 2 Identify the theme of the text.

  • A short story might have 1 or 2 themes, while a novel might have several. If the text has several themes, they might be related.
  • For example, the themes of a sci-fi novel might be “technology is dangerous” and “cooperation can overcome tyranny.”

Step 3 Determine the main ideas of the text.

  • Notice the character’s words, actions, and thoughts. Consider what they convey about the character, as well as possible themes.
  • Watch for symbolism, metaphor, and the use of other literary devices.

Step 4 Identify pieces of text that support the main ideas.

  • You can use these quotes to support your own claims about the text if you write an analysis essay.

Step 5 Examine the author’s writing style.

  • For example, Edgar Allan Poe’s style of writing enhanced the effect of his poems and stories in an intentional way. If you were analyzing one of his texts, you’d want to consider his individual style.
  • As another example, Mark Twain uses dialect in his novel Pudd'nhead Wilson to show the differences between slave owners and slaves in the deep south. Twain uses word choice and syntax to show how language can be used to create a divide in society, as well as control a subsection of the population.

Step 6 Consider the author's...

  • Common tones include sad, solemn, suspenseful, humorous, or sarcastic.
  • Tone can be indicative of not only what's happening in the piece, but of larger themes. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz changes tone, for example, when Dorothy leaves Kansas for Oz. This is seen in the film through the change in color, but in the novel, this is established through the shift in tone.

Evaluating Nonfiction

Step 1 Determine the author’s purpose.

  • What is the topic and discipline?
  • What does the text accomplish?
  • What does the author make you think, believe, or feel?
  • Are the ideas in the text new or borrowed from someone else?

Step 2 Examine the writer’s use of language, including jargon.

  • Using jargon and technical language shows the author is writing for people in their field. They might be trying to instruct or may be presenting research ideas. If you're unsure of a writer's intended audience, technical terms and jargon can be a good indicator.
  • The tone is the mood of a text. For example, a researcher might use a formal, professional tone to present their research findings, while a writer might use an informal, casual tone when writing a magazine article.

Step 3 Identify the author’s argument.

  • If you’re struggling to find the author’s argument, review the evidence they provide in the text. What ideas does the evidence support? This can help you find the argument.
  • For example, the thesis could read as follows: "Based on data and case studies, voters are more likely to choose a candidate they know, supporting the ideas of rational choice theory." The argument here is in favor of rational choice theory.

Step 4 Examine the evidence the author uses to support the argument.

  • For example, evidence that includes research and statistical data may provide a lot of support for an argument, but anecdotal evidence might result in a weak argument.
  • You may want to write out the evidence in your own words, but this may not be necessary.

Step 5 Separate facts from opinions in a nonfiction text.

  • For example, you might highlight facts and opinions using different colors. Alternatively, you might create a chart with facts on one side and opinions on the other.
  • For instance, the writer might state, "According to the survey, 79% of people skim a ballot to find the names they know. Clearly, ballots aren't designed to engage voter interest." The first sentence is a fact, while the second sentence is an opinion.

Step 6 Determine if the text accomplishes its purpose.

  • For example, you might find that the paper on rational choice theory contains few statistics but many pieces of anecdotal evidence. This might lead you to doubt the writer's argument, which means the writer likely didn't achieve their purpose.

Writing an Analysis Paragraph

Step 1 Create a topic sentence explaining your views on the text.

  • Here’s an example: “In the short story ‘Quicksand,’ the author uses quicksand as a metaphor for living with chronic illness.”
  • This is another example: "In the novel Frankenstein , Shelley displays the conventions of the Romantic Period by suggesting that nature has restorative powers."

Step 2 Introduce your supporting text by explaining its context.

  • You could write, “At the beginning of the story, the main character wakes up, dreading the coming day. She knows she needs to get out of bed, but her illness prevents her from rising.”

Step 3 Provide your supporting text, using a lead-in.

  • For example, “To show the struggle, the author writes, ‘I sank back into the bed, feeling as though the mattress was sucking me further and further down.’”
  • As another example, "In Frankenstein , Victor escapes from his problems by frequently going out into nature. After spending two days in nature, Victor says, "By degrees, the calm and heavenly scene restored me..." (Shelley 47).

Step 4 Explain how the supporting text backs up your ideas.

  • You might write, “In this passage, the author builds on the metaphor of an illness acting like quicksand by showing the main character struggling to get out of bed. Despite fighting to get up, the main character feels as though they’re sinking further into the bed. Furthermore, the author uses first-person point-of-view to help the reader understand the main character’s thoughts and feelings on their illness.”

Sample Analyses

writing an analysis of text

Expert Q&A

  • Study guides like Cliff’s Notes can help you analyze a longer text, which is harder to re-read. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Working with a partner or group can help you better understand a text because you can see it from different perspectives. However, make sure any written analysis you do is your own work, not the group’s. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

writing an analysis of text

  • Always use quotation marks and a lead in when directly quoting a passage . Otherwise, you’ll be plagiarizing. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To analyze a text, read over it slowly and carefully, making sure to highlight important information, like main ideas and supporting details. If your teacher gives you any study questions, start by reading the text with these in mind. Otherwise, try to come up with a few questions of your own, like what's the main point and how does the author achieve this? As you read, highlight key passages or make notes in the margins about the main ideas or key passages you come across that help you answer these questions. Another way to analyze a text is to write a short summary of every paragraph or chapter to make sure you fully understand what the author's main points are. For more tips from our Professor co-author, including how to write an analysis paragraph, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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writing an analysis of text

A text is any kind of written content. Periodicals, novels, scientific and literary papers, advertisements, and even text messages are kinds of texts. To analyze a text is to identify and explore every aspect of it. The art and science behind this is textual analysis. The topic of textual analysis…

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Textual Analysis

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  • Line of Reasoning
  • Missing the Point
  • Modifiers that Qualify
  • Modifiers that Specify
  • Narration Rhetorical Mode
  • Non-Sequitur
  • Non-Testable Hypothesis
  • Objective Description
  • Olfactory Description
  • Paragraphing
  • Parenthetical Element
  • Participial Phrase
  • Personal Narrative
  • Placement of Modifiers
  • Post-Hoc Argument
  • Process Analysis Rhetorical Mode
  • Red Herring
  • Reverse Causation
  • Rhetorical Fallacy
  • Rhetorical Modes
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Rhetorical Situation
  • Scare Tactics
  • Sentimental Appeals
  • Situational Irony
  • Slippery Slope
  • Spatial Description
  • Straw Man Argument
  • Subject Consistency
  • Subjective Description
  • Tactile Description
  • Tense Consistency
  • Tone and Word Choice
  • Transitions
  • Twisting the Language Around
  • Unstated Assumption
  • Verbal Irony
  • Visual Description
  • Authorial Intent
  • Authors Technique
  • Language Choice
  • Prompt Audience
  • Prompt Purpose
  • Rhetorical Strategies
  • Understanding Your Audience
  • Auditory Imagery
  • Gustatory Imagery
  • Olfactory Imagery
  • Tactile Imagery
  • Main Idea and Supporting Detail
  • Statistical Evidence
  • Communities of Practice
  • Cultural Competence
  • Gender Politics
  • Heteroglossia
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Methodology
  • Research Methodology
  • Constituent
  • Object Subject Verb
  • Subject Verb Object
  • Syntactic Structures
  • Universal Grammar
  • Verb Subject Object
  • Author Authority
  • Direct Quote
  • First Paragraph
  • Historical Context
  • Intended Audience
  • Primary Source
  • Second Paragraph
  • Secondary Source
  • Source Material
  • Third Paragraph
  • Character Analysis
  • Citation Analysis
  • Text Structure Analysis
  • Vocabulary Assessment

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A text is any kind of written content. Periodicals, novels, scientific and literary papers, advertisements, and even text messages are kinds of texts. To analyze a text is to identify and explore every aspect of it. The art and science behind this is textual analysis . The topic of textual analysis is as broad as it is deep, so prepare to immerse yourself in the written word.

Textual Analysis Definition

Analyzing a text isn’t merely for class assignments or as part of standardized tests.

Textual analysis is a method of studying a text in order to understand the author's deliberate meaning.

This may sound grandiose but think of it this way: when you analyze part of a novel and write your conclusions, you are writing and explaining your understanding of it. You should always aim to help others to understand the meanings or possible meanings of the text.

To accomplish this goal, you can use textual analysis to identify the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a text by asking the following questions:

Who wrote it and for whom? Consider the author and audience.

What was written? Consider what type of text you are analyzing, e.g., is it an informative newspaper article or a speech?

When was it written and read? Consider the Historical Context .

Where was it written and read? Consider the place and culture in which the text was written.

Why was it written and read? Consider the author's intention behind writing the text.

How was it written? Consider the purpose of a text. Often, a textual analysis of “how” will analyze the text's structure, Central Idea , characters, setting, vocabulary, Rhetoric , and citations.

The question “how?” is often the starting point for writing a literary analysis. While the other five modalities focus more on objective history, the how begins to explore a more personalized view of the text, such as the word choice of the text itself, which is largely interpreted by the reader. A more historical or scientific essay will often focus more on the first five modalities to support its points.

Textual Analysis with a Thesis

Textual analysis with a Thesis explores “how” a text conveys an idea, but in an even bigger way. The most in-depth form of textual analysis uses a Thesis to explore not only the factual aspects of a text but also the parts people don't agree on.

For instance, a thesis analysis might explore how well the writer accomplishes their goal, not merely how. Often, this complex form of analysis will compare the text in question with other relevant texts in order to draw a conclusion about it.

While identifying the who, what, when where, why, and how helps us to understand a text, a textual analysis with a thesis helps us to understand the bigger picture around a text. This could include information about the author’s life work, a literary genre, a period in time, or how that text relates to a modern reader or movement.

A textual analysis with a thesis always draws a conclusion that could be contested. However, you should attempt to argue your point in a way that makes it as resilient as possible to counter-arguments.

Different Types of Textual Analysis

A textual analysis often comes in the form of an essay with a thesis, but textual analysis can also be found anywhere. If at any point you analyze the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a text, it is a textual analysis. As such, a textual analysis essay is made up of a variety of interlinking analyses!

Textual Analysis Essay is the targeted exploration of a text using a thesis.

A textual analysis may also come in the form of a history or a deconstruction .

A history analysis is the explanation and analysis of a single text, with a focus on its place in time.

A deconstruction analysis is the break down of a scene, rhetorical device, character, or any other piece of a text into its constituents (i.e., the parts that make it up). A deconstruction is focused on the parts of the whole.

In short, anything that aims to classify or decode a text is a piece of textual analysis.

Structure of a Textual Analysis Essay

When writing a textual analysis essay, keep these five things in mind: Summary and Context , Statement of intent , Evidence , and the bigger picture .

Summary and Context

Textual analysis will summarize and contextualize the text, usually in or near the introduction. A textual analysis might introduce the temporal, cultural, or geographical Context of the text. Depending on your audience, you might also include a Summary of the text itself in order to jog their memory and remind them of the critical details you will be discussing.

Statement of Intent

Textual analysis will include some sort of Statement of intent. If the analyst is focusing on the history of the text, they might include why the contents of the text are important to preserve. In the case of an essay, the analyst will include a thesis Statement explaining why the text should be interpreted a certain way.

Textual analysis will have some form of Evidence . If the analyst is focusing on the history of a text, the analyst will frequently cite the historical text or related histories. In a deconstruction of a text, the analyst will repeatedly cite the focal text. In an essay, the analyst will use evidence from the text to support a thesis.

The Bigger Picture

Textual analysis will speak to the bigger picture, usually in the conclusion. Without generalizing or making sweeping conclusions about "society" or "the world," be sure to cover the text’s future or continuing relevance. Include this in your conclusion, alongside other avenues for future analysis. Remember: the bulk of your essay is meant to contribute to the conversation on the text.

Textual analysis, structure of a textual analysis essay, evidence and magnifying glass, StudySmarter

How to Write a Textual Analysis Essay

Approach your textual analysis from the top down. Is the text you are analyzing nonfiction or fiction?

Nonfiction is any written work that is about facts and true events.

Examples of nonfiction include memoirs, diaries, autobiographies and biographies, scientific papers, news articles, journals, and magazines.

Fiction is any written work invented by someone's imagination.

Any work that includes an imagined reality is a work of fiction, including any work that includes imaginative elements such as historical fiction.

Other fiction examples include novels, novellas, short stories, fables and myths, epic poems and sagas, and many screenplays and scripts.

Once you know whether the written work is fiction or nonfiction, move on to your analysis.

Philosophical, religious, and spiritual texts blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction because reality itself is disputed in these types of texts. Analyses of these highly contended topics are often found in writing assignments because there are many aspects that can be questioned.

How to Analyze Nonfiction

When analyzing nonfiction, you are more likely to focus on the who, what, when, where, and why of a text. This is because nonfiction deals with the realities of the world.

Your analysis of nonfiction could be very simple and draw close comparisons to an explanation. However, if you are writing an essay, your analysis will be more complicated because you will be using objective realities, facts, and evidence to support a conclusion.

You would analyze the who, what, when, where, and why of a climate report to support your thesis that America needs to address global climate change.

When analyzing nonfiction, you will also analyze the author’s Rhetoric to explore how.

Rhetoric is the convincing way an author makes a point. It can also be described as a rhetorical mode.

Some examples of rhetoric that a nonfiction author might employ are classification, illustration/example, analogy, classical appeals, lines of reason, and objective description. You should analyze multiple rhetorical modes to be as convincing as possible.

How to Analyze Fiction

When analyzing fiction, you are more likely to focus on how a text conveys an idea. This is because a writer has invented all aspects of the story. The story the author has written has its own answers to the questions "who?" (the characters), "what?" (the story), "when?" (the period), "where?" (the setting), "why?" (the themes), and "how?" (the narrator).

Textual analysis Exploring a fantasy StudySmarter

So, when you unpack the how of a piece of fiction, you are unpacking an entire fictional reality as well. Every aspect of this reality has been constructed by the author using words. This leaves a lot for you to analyze, including the author's relationship between their own reality and their fictional reality. Textual analysis is really like exploring an all-new world!

When analyzing fiction, you should analyze the author’s rhetoric and whether the author's choice of rhetorical modes is effective. Some examples of rhetoric that a fiction author might employ are themes, mood, descriptions, specialized word choice, syntax, and narration.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Textual Analysis

Because textual analysis is such a broad category of writing, you will find that the strengths and weaknesses of textual analysis lie with specific textual analyses rather than the form of textual analysis itself.

When writing your own textual analysis, keep these do's and do not's in mind:

Do: Use Primary Sources

A primary source could be the text you are analyzing itself or a review, article, or interview regarding the text written near the time the text was first introduced. Primary sources are a great way to understand the Historical Context of a text and will bolster your introduction and body paragraphs.

Do Not: Use Opinions as Evidence

Your evidence should be objective and logical. Unless your thesis involves how well a text was received, people's opinions are not a great source of support for your essay.

Do: Cite your Sources

When you are drawing a debatable conclusion, remember to cite your sources. Evidence is only helpful if it is verifiable.

Do Not: Try to Cover Every Aspect of the Text

Focus on one or just a few aspects. As a student, you will never write a textual analysis, or even a history, that covers every aspect of a text. If you try, you will end up writing a bland, short summary or a history that probably adds very little to the conversation surrounding the text. Instead of analyzing all of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) at once, for example, analyze a few of Alice's encounters that show Lewis Carroll's love of numbers.

Textual Analysis Example

Here is an example of how to analyze a short excerpt from a story, something you are likely to be asked on standardized and timed tests, as well as in your take-home essays.

In this case, the writer presents a textual analysis of a passage from the opening narration of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (1843):

Text Passage: "Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.' Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail."

Textual Analysis:

In this passage, Dickens employs a curt style to set the tone for Scrooge’s own brusque ways. This brusqueness begins at the start of the narrative, in his abrupt handling of Marley’s funeral. Punctuation is an important part of this style, including the colon, which tightly and emphatically joins “dead” and “to begin with.” Frequent periods also add to this pervasive sense of finality. Dickens finally employs figurative language to drive the point home when the narrator refers to Marley being “dead as a doornail.” This passage directs the reader to think of Marley as gone and departed, the way that Scrooge does. This tactic of misdirection pays off with a surprise when the reader learns that Marley is anything but gone and departed.

In the example, the writer of the textual analysis has chosen to focus on the following aspects to analyze how the text was written and explain and uncover the author's meaning in the passage from A Christmas Carol :

  • Figurative language

Textual Analysis - Key Takeaways

  • Textual analysis is a method of studying a text in order to understand the various meanings by identifying the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a text.
  • The most in-depth form of textual analysis uses a thesis.
  • Textual analysis will include context and summary of a text, a statement of intent, evidence from the text and usually other sources.
  • When analyzing nonfiction, you are more likely to focus on the who, what, when, where, and why of a text. When analyzing fiction, you are more likely to focus on the how of a text.
  • For both nonfiction and fiction texts, you will analyze the author’s rhetoric to explore how.

Frequently Asked Questions about Textual Analysis

--> what is textual analysis.

Textual analysis is a method of studying a text in order to understand the various meanings.

--> How do you write a textual analysis?

To write a textual analysis, consider the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the text you are analyzing. Analyze the structure, central idea, characters, setting, vocabulary, rhetoric, and citations of a text.

--> What are the four key features of a textual analysis?

A textual analysis will:

  • Summarize and contextualize a text.
  • Include some sort of statement of intent.
  • Provide evidence.
  • Explain the text's continuing relevance.

--> What type of research is textual analysis?

Textual analysis is not a form of research, but rather uses research to analyze a text. 

--> How do you write a textual analysis essay?

Final textual analysis quiz, textual analysis quiz - teste dein wissen.

Textual analysis is a method of studying a text in order to _____ the author’s deliberate meaning.

Show answer


Show question

To accomplish its goal, textual analysis identifies the _____ of a text.

All the above: who, what, when, where, why, how.

How does textual analysis differ from film analysis?

Textual analysis is the analysis of the written word. Film is a visual media.

An essay that aims to deconstruct a text is a piece of textual analysis.

True or false?

A textual analysis will include some sort of statement of _____.

Does a textual analysis use evidence?

In most cases, a textual analysis does not include an introduction and conclusion. True or false?

What is the first thing you should do to begin your textual analysis.

Determine whether the text is fiction or nonfiction.

When analyzing nonfiction, you are more likely to focus upon the   who, what, when, where,  and  why  of a text. Why is this? 

Because nonfiction deals with the realities of the world. 

When analyzing fiction, you are more likely to focus upon the how  of a text.

Why is this? 

Because a writer has invented a whole new set of who, what, when, where, why,  and  how using the “how" of the text.

Textual analysis often involves analyzing the _____ rhetoric.

Which of the following is not an example of textual analysis type?

A textual analysis with a thesis helps us to understand the text with regard to a _________.

Bigger picture.

What is nonfiction?

Any written work that describes or comments upon true and verifiable events.

What is fiction?

Any written work that includes something invented by someone's imagination.

What is a character analysis?

A character analysis is a deep dive into the traits and personality of a particular character, as well as a discussion of the character’s overall role in the story. 

When writing a character analysis, you have to pay close attention to the things both ________ and ________ about the character.

Stated, unstated

Why do authors not explicitly state everything they want you to know about their characters?

Sometimes, the writer wants you to come to realize some things about the character for yourself. This requires the reader to take a closer look at the text as a whole to determine the characters' impact on it.

True or false: a character analysis shouldn't include any details about their physical appearance.

There are 5 details about a character to pay close attention when writing a character analysis. Which is missing from the list below?

  • Personality
  • _____________
  • What they say


What is the main purpose of a character analysis

The purpose of a character analysis is to gain a deeper understanding of the piece of literature. 

A character analysis will help you understand the _______ intent, not only for the character, but for the entire story. 

What are two things can a character analysis help you understand better?

The character and the author

What is the first thing to do when you begin a character analysis?

Read the text

True or false: even if you've already read the entire book, you must read it again before starting a character analysis. 

What are the seven types of characters found in literature?

  • Protagonist
  • Major character
  • Minor character
  • Dynamic character
  • Static character
  • Stock character

What is the second step to creating a character analysis (after reading the text)? 

Choose a main idea

True or false: the main idea of a character analysis essay is the same thing as the thesis statement.

What is the main idea of a character analysis?

The main idea of a character analysis will be whatever message you’d like to express about that character.

Where does the best support for a character analysis come from?

The text (i.e., quotes, examples, etc.)

Which part of a narrative comes first?


What are the two main types of narrative structure?

Linear and non-linear

True or False. Writers have to present the events of a narrative in chronological order.  

False. Writers often use a non-linear narrative to communicate a main idea.  

A writer writes an article on ways to make a cake without an oven. What type of informational text is this?

How-to or process

What are the five parts of a linear narrative’s structure?

Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Resolution

Which of the following is a technique that writers use to fracture a narrative?


What should readers do first when analyzing the structure of an informational text?

Identify the purpose  

True or False. Description and how-to informational texts are the same things.  

False. In description texts writers describe a concept, like photosynthesis. In a how-to text, a writer reaches the reader to do something such as how to start a garden.  

What is a climax in literature?

A climax is the turning point of a story when the tension escalates.

True or False. All of the problems in a story are resolved in the resolution.  

False. A resolution wraps up the main conflict but does not mean all of the problems are solved.  

_____ i s when you count how many times a publication is cited in other works. It is when you use this number to calculate the trustworthiness of that publication.

Formal citation analysis

_____ gauges a publication for its trustworthiness.

Citation analysis

Where is formal citation analysis used?

At the scholarly level, not the high school or university level.   It involves using specific online tools and compilers and some statistical analysis.

Citation analysis helps you create arguments that appeal to _____. An appeal to _____ is an appeal to something or someone's credibility.

In citation analysis, there is no absolute principle to determine the trustworthiness of an article. Instead, you look at two things. What are they?

The quality of its citations and the accurate use of those citations.

Why is citation analysis important?

Citation analysis is important because it helps you measure if an article is trustworthy to use.

How does citation analysis improve your argument?

Citation analysis helps you separate the weak articles from strong articles. Trustworthy articles have more valid evidence in them. When you have valid evidence to support your arguments, you strengthen them.

How does citation analysis help prevent logical errors in your arguments?

When you study an article's citations, you find out how accurate the article is. Therefore, citation analysis can find inaccurate articles, which will help you prevent logical errors in your essays.

"You can trust most articles off the bat." True or false?

False. When an article says something, you cannot immediately take it as fact. You need to see if the fact comes from or cites a credible source. A great way to do that is by analyzing that fact's citation.

How can citation analysis help you not to spread misinformation?

If you copy and report an incorrect fact, you spread misinformation. Citation analysis helps you root out incorrect facts.

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How to Write a Textual Analysis

Laura jean holton.

Analyzing involves a thorough understanding of the text.

In a textual analysis, the analyzer must go further than describing details. He doesn't state whether he agrees with the opinion in the text but rather analyzes the effectiveness of how the author has presented her argument. He should analyze and describe the success of the individual methods used, discussing whether these techniques achieve the intended purpose and if they are suitable for the intended audience. The analyzer must state how he arrived at these conclusions.

Read the work that you will be analyzing. Make sure you understand the general idea being portrayed.

Reread the text carefully and meticulously and ensure you understand it completely. Write down anything that is difficult to comprehend, and mark, on the article, any points relevant to your analysis.

Divide the text into separate components, such as sentences, paragraphs, phrases and words. Consider each element of the piece, searching for patterns to gain a better understanding of the text. Jot down notes about your ideas.

Look for the meaning of the text as a whole by piecing together the smaller elements. Think about how the writer communicates her idea and why this concept is important.

Plan the layout of your work by deciding on the most logical order for the points you intend to discuss. Don't necessarily follow the chronological sequence of the text you are analyzing.

Start your analysis by including the title, author and main purpose of the text in the first sentence. Continue your paper with your interpretation of the article. You may wish to start drafting the main body before returning to write the introduction.

Find examples in the text to back your work. Refer to these details and quote them in your analysis.

Conclude the article without repeating information. Ensure your paper has a strong summary that allows it to sound finished.

Reread your paper to check for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.

  • 1 Wright State University: Textual Analysis
  • 2 University of Texas: How to Write an A+ Text Analysis; Owen M. Williamson

About the Author

Laura Jean Holton is a professional writer specializing in a diverse range of topics, including education, pets, music and history. She also writes articles about hair styles, care and trends for the Vissa Studios website.

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writing an analysis of text

Literary Analysis Guide

English class at Goshen College

In writing about literature or any specific text, you will strengthen your discussion if you offer specific passages from the text as evidence. Rather than simply dropping in quotations and expecting their significance and relevance to your argument to be self-evident, you need to provide sufficient analysis of the passage. Remember that your over-riding goal of analysis writing is to demonstrate some new understanding of the text.

How to analyze a text?

  • Read or reread the text with specific questions in mind.
  • Marshal basic ideas, events and names. Depending on the complexity of book, this requires additional review of the text.
  • Think through your personal reaction to the book: identification, enjoyment, significance, application.
  • Identify and consider most important ideas (importance will depend on context of class, assignment, study guide).
  • Return to the text to locate specific evidence and passages related to the major ideas.
  • Use your knowledge following the principles of analyzing a passage described below: test, essay, research, presentation, discussion, enjoyment.

Principles of analyzing a passage

  • Offer a thesis or topic sentence indicating a basic observation or assertion about the text or passage.
  • Offer a context for the passage without offering too much summary.
  • Cite the passage (using correct format).
  • Discuss what happens in the passage and why it is significant to the work as a whole.
  • Consider what is said, particularly subtleties of the imagery and the ideas expressed.
  • Assess how it is said, considering how the word choice, the ordering of ideas, sentence structure, etc., contribute to the meaning of the passage.
  • Explain what it means, tying your analysis of the passage back to the significance of the text as a whole.
  • Repeat the process of context, quotation and analysis with additional support for your thesis or topic sentence.

Sample analysis paragraphs

From james mcbride’s the color of water.

An important difference between James and his mother is their method of dealing with the pain they experience. While James turns inward, his mother Ruth turns outward, starting a new relationship, moving to a different place, keeping herself busy. Ruth herself describes that, even as a young girl, she had an urge to run, to feel the freedom and the movement of her legs pumping as fast as they can (42). As an adult, Ruth still feels the urge to run. Following her second husband’s death, James points out that, “while she weebled and wobbled and leaned, she did not fall. She responded with speed and motion. She would not stop moving” (163). As she biked, walked, rode the bus all over the city, “she kept moving as if her life depended on it, which in some ways it did. She ran, as she had done most of her life, but this time she was running for her own sanity” (164). Ruth’s motion is a pattern of responding to the tragedy in her life. As a girl, she did not sit and think about her abusive father and her trapped life in the Suffolk store. Instead she just left home, moved on, tried something different. She did not analyze the connections between pain and understanding, between action and response, even though she seems to understand them. As an adult, she continues this pattern, although her running is modified by her responsibilities to her children and home.

The image of running that McBride uses here and elsewhere supports his understanding of his mother as someone who does not stop and consider what is happening in her life yet is able to move ahead. Movement provides the solution, although a temporary one, and preserves her sanity. Discrete moments of action preserve her sense of her own strength and offer her new alternatives for the future. Even McBride’s sentence structure in the paragraph about his mother’s running supports the effectiveness of her spurts of action without reflection. Although varying in length, each of the last seven sentences of the paragraph begins with the subject “She” and an active verb such as “rode,” “walked,” “took,” “grasp” and “ran.” The section is choppy, repetitive and yet clear, as if to reinforce Ruth’s unconscious insistence on movement as a means of coping with the difficulties of her life.

from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

#1 The negative effect the environment can have on the individual is shown in Morrison’s comparison of marigolds in the ground to people in the environment. Early in the novel, Claudia and Frieda are concerned that the marigold seeds they planted that spring never sprouted. At the end of the novel, Claudia reflects on the connection to Pecola’s failure:

I talk about how I did not plant the seeds too deeply, how it was the fault of the earth, our land, our town. I even think now that the land of the entire country was hostile to marigolds that year. This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. (206)

Morrison obviously views the environment as a powerful influence on the individual when she suggests that the earth itself is hostile to the growth of the marigold seeds. In a similar way, people cannot thrive in a hostile environment. Pecola Breedlove is a seed planted in the hostile environment, and, when she is not nurtured in any way, she cannot thrive.

#2 One effect of the belief that white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes are the most beautiful is evident in the characters who admire white film stars. Morrison shows an example of the destructive effect of this beauty standard on the character Pecola. When Pecola lives with Claudia and Frieda, the two sisters try to please their guest by giving her milk in a Shirley Temple mug. Claudia recalls, “She was a long time with the milk, and gazed fondly at the silhouette of Shirley Temple’s face” (19). This picture of two young African-American girls admiring the beauty of a white American film star is impossible for Claudia to comprehend. Another character who admires white beauty is Maureen Peale. As Pecola and the girls walk past a movie theater on their way home with Maureen, Maureen asks if the others “just love” Betty Grable, who smiles from a movie poster. When she later tells the others she is cute and they are ugly, Maureen reveals her belief that she is superior because she looks more like a Betty Grable image than the blacker girls do. Pecola’s and Maureen’s fascination with popular images is preceded by Pauline’s own belief in the possibility of movie images. She describes doing her hair like Jean Harlow’s and eating candy at a movie. Rather than being transported into the romantic heaven of Hollywood, she loses a tooth and ends in despair. “Everything went then. Look like I just didn’t care no more after that. I let my hair go back, plaited it up, and settled down to just being ugly” (123). Admiring beauty in another is one thing; transferring a sense of self-hatred when a person doesn’t measure is another. At that point, the power of white beauty standards becomes very destructive.

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions

Although Tambu recognizes the injustices she and Nyasha endure as females, she hesitates to act on her suspicion because of fear. First of all, she is afraid that she might not recognize and feel comfortable with herself in a critical role. She hesitates to pursue her critique, noting to herself, “I was beginning to suspect that I was not the person I was expected to be, and took it as evidence that somewhere I had taken a wrong turning” (116). Using other people’s perceptions rather than her own, she judges her thoughts to be wrong. Although she senses that her behavior as the “grateful poor female relative” was insincere, she admitted it felt more comfortable. “It mapped clearly the ways I could or could not go, and by keeping within those boundaries I was able to avoid the mazes of self-confrontation” (116). While she is somewhat embarrassed that she lacks the intensity she had when fighting against Nhamo and her father over the maize, she is reluctant to lose Babamakuru’s protection and fears experiencing the same kind of trauma Nyasha does in her struggle. Although she says she feels “wise to be preserving [her] energy, unlike [her] cousin, who was burning herself out,” she reveals that she fears losing a familiar sense of herself in order to battle injustices.

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