Inver Hills Community College


Home & Contents                       Basics                       College Writing             




Click on any  part or section below:

Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar

 Study Questions



Chapter 27. ANALYSIS


Introduction   Basics   Advanced   Samples   Activities


Basics of Analysis











& Editing




This section explains the basics of writing and revising an analysis--why an analysis exists and how to start, organize, and edit it.  You may want to first see the "Introduction" before reading this page.  Be sure, after reading this "Basics Page," to also visit "Sample Papers" by students.  For more advanced information, go to "Advanced Methods."       


   Why This Type of Paper?   

The heart of an analysis is a taking apart or breakdown of a subject using a particular system or point of view.  An analysis is not a disagreement with the subject, but rather a balanced, logical look at the subject using a clearly identifiable theory or position.  An analysis also is to some extent an interpretation of information.  Academic instructors, professional supervisors, and work-related committees all need explanations of information. Such explanations are supposed to help them better understand a subject from a specialized point of view.  Often your audience may have a particular method, theory, or system of analysis in mind. For example, an art teacher may want you to use the design elements of visual art to describe a work of art, a literature teacher may want you to use the elements of literature such as plot, characters, symbols, etc. to describe a story, a clinic may want you to use a diagnostic system to describe a patient, and a business may want you to use a targeted survey or set of questions to determine the needs of clients or customers.  

Even so, you should keep in mind that "analyze" is one of the most common writing and speaking assignments in college. Its specific meaning may differ from teacher to teacher and from class to class, so be sure that you understand exactly what is expected. Find out what kind of theory, method, or system you should apply to the assigned subject.  In addition, find out whether you are simply to apply this theory or method, or whether you also should argue, evaluate, or otherwise reach some kind of final conclusion.  If the entire analysis also must be an argument or evaluation, then go to the appropriate chapter in this textbook to learn how to write an argument or evaluation paper. However, in its simplest form, an analysis simply is a detailed explanation of something using a specific theory, method or system that a teacher or supervisor has given you.


Return to top.


   How Will You Start?   

The major section of this Web textbook called "Starting" offers a number of useful ways to start thinking, speaking, and writing about a subject. The following advice is for this chapter's type of paper in particular. 

Starting by Reading

Generally your very first focus should be on the text of the reading (or on the other subject) you will analyze.  To start, you may find your paper easier to write if you find a text that you understand easily and thoroughly.  You should be able to understand the text well enough not only in content, but also in structure, such that you can easily see its individual points.  You also must be able to treat it very objectively, without finding it upsetting.  

This major section of has, within it, five chapters discussing how to respond to texts in five specific ways.  Because you always must start with a text, all five chapters of these chapters have these three paragraphs in common.  To see more about how to start with a text, please go to the brief summary and resource page "How to Start Your Paper by Reading." 

If you are not starting with a text but rather a subject, much of the same advice still applies.  In other words, be sure that you know your subject well. 

Writing Your Analysis

Once you've carefully read your text or observed your subject, start writing.  You can start by freewriting, by organizing/outlining, by collecting and/or expanding upon your critical-reading notes you've already made, or simply by writing your point-by-point analyses.  You also can write about your system of analysis itself, and/or how it may apply in several ways to your text or subject.  However you start, try to get as much of your thinking on paper as you can at the beginning.

The tone with which you begin should be whatever tone works for you in the beginning in order to get your thoughts on the page.  If you must be emotional to start, that is okay; however, be aware that eventually you must drop all negative emotional tones in favor of sounding--and being--as impartial as possible.  Some instructors or professional coordinators may allow or even, occasionally, seek a tone of judgment (see the "Evaluation" chapter) or strong criticism (see the "Critical Review" chapter), but you should be sure, first, that this is what they want.  

When you focus on organizing--at whatever stage you do so--you'll need to be sure in the very first sentence of each section that your readers understand three things: first, the particular idea you are analyzing; second, what viewpoints or analytical idea(s) you are using to do the analyzing in that section; and third, the fact that you are using a particular viewpoint that is not necessarily your own.  For example, a typical section of an analysis using the psychology of Sigmund Freud as applied to the play Romeo and Juliet might start by saying, "Next, Freud's idea of the ego vs. the superego may be applied to Romeo's swordfight."   In this example, there is a statement of the theory and a particular part of it being applied, there is a statement of the part of the text to which it is being applied, and there is the clear inference that you are applying the idea in a balanced, logical way.  Of course, it is to some extent your own interpretation, but this is acceptable as long as you are using a logical, fair, and balanced application of the theory to the text.  

Different Types of Analyses

There are a number of ways to start--and then develop--the content of an analysis.  Most of the time, your instructor will assign and expect a specific way, often one that he or she will teach to you.  Here are several generic systems.  Others, more difficult, are in the "Advanced Methods" section.  


Personal Experience

The 5 W's



A Given Specific System



One relatively easy method to use in analyzing texts (or other subjects) is to take the position or stance of several people with significant personal experience. For example, you might examine a text about drug use from the point of view of an alcoholic or drug addict; a text about urban values from the point of view of a small-town or country person; or, perhaps, an article about athletes from the point of view of a computer nerd. Much of the value—as the examples suggest—in doing an analysis from significant personal experience is in choosing a point of view that the article may have forgotten or ignored. You do not necessarily choose the point of view in order to disagree, but rather simply to better explain how the text’s comments might be perceived and felt by those with a point of view not represented by the article. To use this method, explain the point of view briefly; then, in the final draft (or in earlier ones, too), be sure to frequently use phrases such as "From this point of view, the text seems to say…," "This point of view would see the text’s argument as follows…," and "This point of view would suggest ___ about the next argument…." In other words, you will need to keep reminding your own readers of the specific point of view you are using—so they can distinguish it from the author’s point of view and from your own.

In order to analyze using this method, you’ll need to have a reasonable understanding of the people whose point of view you are adopting. It certainly is okay, perhaps even helpful, to use your own experience as a point of view. However, if you do so, avoid using the words "I" and "me"—so that you don’t simply start arguing with the text or agreeing with it as an individual. Rather, ask yourself what group you belong to: take the point of view of the larger group to which you belong. For example, I was raised on a farm, so I might analyze by saying, "Farm people would see this point as meaning that _____," or "Country people would see this idea as _____," or even "People raised around animals would think of this as _____."

Sometimes, for contrast or because it can be important to discuss popular public viewpoints, you may also want to use the viewpoint of someone who does not have significant personal experience.  In such a case, you simply present this type of person's viewpoint as described above.  You may also want to mention, if it seems relevant, the level of experience (or lack of it) of each of the types of people you use. 


This method works best for analyzing an event, object, or person—not a text. The "5 W’s & Results" are such journalistic questions as "Who, What, Where, When, Why/How, and Results (what will happen)." Using them as a method of analysis is common in fields and professions as diverse as the arts, the social sciences, business analysis of employees, and psychiatric nursing. It also is one of the easiest methods to use if you have significant or close experience of your subject. (See also "Writing a News Report" and "Writing A Case Study")  Analyze according to most or all of the following categories:

  • What: What is your subject? If you plan to write a "Summary" section as described above, you don’t need to further discuss "What," for the Summary section sufficiently describes it.

  • How: How does your subject work or exist, how did it originally come about, and/or how is it structured or organized?

  • Where/When: Where and/or when does it exist or happen? Is there a pattern to its place or time of existing or acting? How does it fit into a particular place and/or time?

  • Why/How: Why and/or how does the subject occur, operate, or exist?

  • Results: What are the results or implications for the future, for society, and/or for others: how might others be affected as individuals, groups, and parts of society and the world?


Comparison-contrast papers are analyses. Whether you are comparing and contrasting two texts, two events, two objects, or two people, the idea is to learn more about both by showing how they are similar and dissimilar. Comparison-contrast is a rather simple method of analysis, given that it is taught in elementary and secondary schools as a way of thinking, writing, and speaking. To make this method more sophisticated, you can show a greater variety and complexity of variables than often is done. Here are several more-than-simple methods:

  • Compare—describe several important ways in which two subjects are alike. Then, using each of the same points of comparison, show how there still are subtle differences between the two subjects concerning each point.

  • Contrast—describe several important ways in which two subjects are different or opposite. Then, using each of the same points of contrast, show how there still are subtle similarities between the two subjects concerning each point.

  • Develop a list of several main points on which both subjects comment. Then develop a three-way comparison/contrast of each point by bringing in a third subject such as the general public or perhaps a special reading audience such as children, poor people, the rich, country people, etc. (see "1. Significant Personal Experience" above)—any kind of group that is somewhat different from the two main subjects. Then compare and contrast what all three subjects appear to be saying about each main point.

  • Consider the two subjects’ histories—the histories of the ideas, the authors, or both. Then offer several comparisons and contrasts of these histories.

  • Consider the two subjects’ likely results or implications (see "Results" in "2. The 5W’s & Results" above). Offer several comparisons and contrasts of these results. In other words, what are some comparisons and contrasts of what will happen to individuals or the public in general if each subject is believed wholeheartedly or their advice is followed?

  • Use the "5 W’s & Results" method above to develop a comparison-contrast of both subjects.


You also may research a subject’s background and use details of that person or author’s times and places to further explain, describe, and detail the meanings or implications of the subject. The idea in this kind of analysis simply is to unfold and describe how the past probably or possibly has affected or created something that exists in the present. Here are some details that may help you:

Author or Person: age; place of birth, childhood, and adulthood; social, cultural, and familial circles; physical appearance; politics; education and training; psychological, intellectual, and emotional profiles; and hobbies.

Issue: source; geographical and societal locations; psychological and emotional genesis in people; examples of its occurrence in the past; usefulness of it—purposes that belief in it has served in the past; past opponents; and the author’s development as a person (see above, "Author or Person").


Some analyses have a clear system given to you in advance. For example, an art teacher might require you to use the elements of visual art to describe a painting or sculpture. These elements of art might include (but not be limited to) form, color, perspective, shading, material, line, symbol, and subject matter. A literary teacher might ask you to analyze using the elements of literature (see "Writing a Literary Analysis"). A science lab instructor might ask you to use something like the IMRaD system: Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion (see "Writing a Scientific Proposal"). Many other systems exist. What systems do you know? Which of them, if any, could be applied to your chosen text to create an analysis?

6. ANALYSIS USING AN ESTABLISHED THEORY--See "Advanced Types of Analyses" in the "Advanced Methods" part of this chapter.  

7. ANALYZING THE ARGUMENTS OF A TEXT OR SUBJECT--See "Advanced Types of Analyses."

8. RHETORICAL ANALYSIS--See "Advanced Types of Analyses."

9. ANALYSIS USING DECONSTRUCTION--See "Advanced Types of Analyses."

10. ANALYSIS USING ARGUMENTS--See "Argumentative Analysis" in  the "Dialogic Argument" chapter.

Also be sure--as you build your paper--that you have plenty of quotations from the author so that the reader can see exactly how the author develops his/her thinking.  If you are assigned to do so, you may need quotations from other sources, as well, primarily to help support the points you are making.  Because you, yourself, are not a professional expert, you are depending--in a research paper--on quotations and paraphrases from the professional experts. 


Return to top.


  What Are Some Organizing Methods?   

When organizing an analysis, you may want to consider three practical matters.  Be aware of (1) the typical visual/textual design, (2) the central key to organizing this type of paper, and (3) dangers to avoid.  General principles of organization are described in detail in the "Organizing" chapter.  Specific details for this type of paper are below.  

The "Introduction" has already shown you the following organization for an this type of paper:    

The Visual Plan or Map

Unique Title 


Intro Paragraph:

THE READING, MAIN THEORY OR THEORIES, and introductory details


Body Section 1:

First analysis and supporting details

Body Section 2:

Second analysis and supporting details

Body Section 3:

Third analysis and supporting details

(Optional Body Section 4:

Fourth analysis and supporting details)


Concluding Paragraph:

THE READING, MAIN THEORY OR THEORIES, and concluding details



Jones, A.J. Book One, et al.

Smith, B.K. Book Two, et al.

Here is a more detailed view of this structure.  This view is a visual and textual plan of how an analysis generally looks when it is finished.  

Detailed Organization of an Analysis Paper

Your Own Unique Title OR
Analysis of "Essay"/Book*


          Type of paper.  Source info: Author's Name, "Essay"/Title, & author's main argument.  Your analytical viewpoint(s), theory, or theories.  Introductory quotation/details.  [1 par.]


(Optional: Summary)***

          Summary of the text (optional).  Restate author's last name 1-2 times per paragraph; summarize the text accurately, completely, and briefly.  (See "Writing a Summary.")  This should be your shortest body section.  [1+ par.]

First Unique Subtitle

        1st viewpoint, theory, or part of one: (a) topic sentence, (b) discussion using quotations/paraphrases from your reading's text using (c) details supporting your opinions (such as quotations/paraphrases from other sources, your or others' personal experiences, facts, figures, etc.), and (d) a brief, concluding sentence or paragraph summarizing the entire topic section.  [2+ par.]   

Second Unique Subtitle

        2nd viewpoint, theory, or part of one: topic sentence, discussion with quotes, supporting details, & conclusion.  [2+ par.] 

Third Unique Subtitle

         3rd viewpoint, theory, or part of one: topic sentence, discussion with quotes, supporting details, & conclusion.  [2+ par.] 

(Optional Fourth-Fifth Unique Subtitle)

         4th viewpoint, theory, or part of one: topic sentence, discussion with quotes, supporting details, & conclusion.  [2+ par.] 



          Source (author and/or title).  Viewpoint(s), theory, or theories used.  Final thoughts or analytical opinion.  Final quotation/details.  [1 par.]


Works Cited/Bibliography

Jones, A.J. Book One, et al.

Smith, B.K. Book Two, et al.

Create an alphabetized bibliography on a separate page, according to the requirements of your discipline/instructor.  Formats vary among differing disciplines.  (See the chapter in Section G. "Quoting/Paraphrasing" for more detail.)

The Key to Building an Analysis: Choosing Viewpoints or Theories

The key to the overall organization of an analysis is to know exactly what viewpoint(s), theory, or theories you will use, and how you will break them down.  This should be very simple to decide if you are using the viewpoints of three or four different types of people or three different theories, as above.  The same usually is true if you are using a specific analytical method given to you by your instructor: for example, the use of the 5 W's, as above; the elements of literature, a design for an experiment (see "IMRaD" in "Scientific Proposals & Reports"), or one of many other such systems.  You simply use one topic section for each of your types, viewpoints, steps, or elements of analysis.

However, if you are using another form of analysis in which the breakdown into parts or topic sections is not obvious, you have to think carefully about how you want to organize.  Such systems may include analysis using comparison-contrast, analysis from the point of view of just one expert, or--especially--analysis using just one theory.  In this kind of situation, you must decide precisely how you want to break down the one theory or viewpoint into three or four (or sometimes more) parts to apply to your text, and/or how you want to break down the text into sections, parts, or ideas to analyze.  Essentially, there are two basic ways to start this kind of organizing.  One starts by breaking down the theory or viewpoint; the other, by breaking down the text.  The following table shows both methods in four parts, each of which becomes, in writing or revision, a separate body section:   

Starting with Parts of the Theory or Viewpoint:
(1) One part of the theory (or viewpoint)

(2) A 2nd part of the theory

(3) A 3rd part

(4) A 4th part, etc.

Starting with Parts of the Text:

(1) The theory applied
to one important part of the text 

(2) The theory applied to a 2nd part of the text 

(3) The theory applied to a 3rd part 

(4) The theory applied to a 4th part, etc.                                

Sometimes you may find it appropriate to start writing using an outline like one of these two, especially as you become experienced in writing this type of paper.  At other times--especially if the ideas with which you are working are new to you--you may find it more useful to start writing by brainstorming: by writing freely about the theory or viewpoint and its possible applications to your text.  In this case, you simply can take your first or second draft and redevelop it to fit one of the outlines above.

It also is important to note that some people who start by outlining like to begin with four, five, or even more of the above parts.  If you try this, you may find it will allow you to place more ideas on paper in your first draft and then, in your second one, to delete or combine weaker parts.  The result often will be three or four stronger parts.  Each of these parts becomes, in your final draft, a separate topic section.

Why should you have just three or four topic sections?  Most instructors prefer fewer sections so that the content of each one has greater length, breadth, and depth.  Ask your instructor: some instructors, especially in courses beyond first-year composition and speech classes, do sometimes prefer a greater number of points covered, with a briefer discussion of each.  In addition, a long paper or speech--particularly a term project or major research project--may allow room for additional sections.)  

In your second or third draft, make paragraphs that contain  quotations, paraphrases, story and event examples, numbers, figures, and/or other specific proofs.  Use the writing from your first draft--your brainstorming draft--and develop it further, adding and reorganizing as you go.  To see how to develop each paragraph individually, see the "Paragraphing" chapter in the "Organizing" section.

Dangers to Avoid as You Organize

There are several dangers to avoid as you write an analysis.  One of the most important dangers is that you may be misunderstanding what your text is saying.  If you misunderstand the author's ideas, you probably will analyze it incorrectly.  Be sure that you understand almost all parts of it--and certainly the most important parts, such as the introduction and conclusion, the first paragraph of each topic section, and the first sentence of each major paragraph.  Read your chosen text several times; use critical reading to read and mark it; look up words or concepts you don't understand in a dictionary or encyclopedia; and if there is an important passage you don't understand, ask for help from your instructor, a tutor, or a friend.

Another danger is being--or appearing to be--biased or prejudiced for or against your reading.   One way to avoid this is to be sure that you are, indeed, being fully objective: whenever you present the text's thoughts, are you stating them without bias, emotionally as well as intellectually, with no irony, scorn, or other signs of dislike?  Are you quoting or paraphrasing the text's thoughts in the same way that the author him or herself might?  You must not just avoid being biased, but also appearing to be biased, whether for or against text's point of view.  Your analysis may have the appearance of bias--especially a seemingly positive bias (in favor of the text)--if you simply analyze without reminding the reader that you are applying a theory or viewpoint that is not necessarily your own.  

You can help yourself avoid bias as you write--and also avoid even the appearance of bias--in three simple ways.  First, if you are presenting viewpoints or theories, do not speak from your own, personal point of view (unless your instructor requests it).  Rather, if you wish to present your point of view, use a general type or theory, instead, and let that type or theory speak for you: for example, if you happen to believe that capital punishment is acceptable and you are a nineteen-year-old college student, you might develop one analysis from the point of view of "a typical middle-class male college student."  

A second way to help yourself avoid bias or the appearance of it has to do with adding an element of style.  As you write, repeat key words and phrases that remind your audience you are simply using a specific point of view or theory.  Such sentences might say, for example, "This viewpoint/theory suggests that...," "According to this theory...," "People who believe this theory argue that...," "Analysis using this theory suggests that...," etc.  Do so frequently at the beginnings of new topic sections and of longer paragraphs (as often as two or three times per typed page).  

A third way to avoid bias and the appearance of it is to use frequent quotations and paraphrases from the text itself whenever you are explaining what the text says.  In this way, your audience can see for themselves what the text says at key points, rather than trust your own summary of it.  (To place and develop quotations properly in your paper, see the "Quoting & Paraphrasing" chapter in the "Researching" section).


As you complete your later drafts, look carefully at the visual map above and the sample papers in this chapter.  Rearrange the order of your body sections and of your paragraphs as needed.  Consider your use of major organizing devices: for example, have you placed the correct key sentences in your introduction and conclusion, and have you developed a subtitle and topic sentence at the beginning of each major body section?  

Asterisks *, **, and *** for the organizational plan or map above (advice given in most chapters):

*In most academic disciplines, the title is typed simply: no quotation marks, underlining, or bold marking.  It is centered, and the font size and style are those used in the rest of the paper--normally a 12-point font in a style such as Times New Roman, Garamond, or CG Times.  In a professional situation, you may use academic style or whatever is commonly acceptable in your workplace.

** In some disciplines, the "Introduction" subtitle may be optional or even forbidden.  (Most social sciences and psychology papers, for example, should not have an "Introduction" subtitle.) 

***Some instructors--and some types of papers or disciplines--require a short summary (see) of a text  before you begin responding to it.  Ask your instructor.  Such a summary generally should have no quotations within it and should be fair and balanced (even if the text is not).         

***Some instructors may allow--or even, occasionally, prefer--your paper to be completely free of subtitles.  (Some literature, history, and philosophy instructors, for example, consider subtitles inappropriate.)  If you use no subtitles at all, consider using an extra space break at the beginning of each body section and/or an especially strong, clear topic sentence.  In addition, some instructors may prefer you to have a series of more than four body sections.  If so, pay attention especially to the paper's flow by using good transitions.

For more about organizing body sections, topic sentences, and subtitles in general, please go to "Organizing College Papers."  For more about organizing paragraphs, go to the "Paragraphing" chapter.


Return to top.


 Are There Special Revising and Editing Needs?

In revising an analysis, the focus techniques with which you started in the Introduction to this chapter can help you in finishing your paper:

Subject, Drafts, Style, & Authenticity

SUBJECT: Have you stayed on the subject throughout?  In an analysis, this means being sure that everything is sorted clearly and logically, both in your own mind for your audience's.  You are working with two different sets of information: on the one hand, your theory, theories, or viewpoint(s); on the other, the points of parts of your text to which you apply them.  You need to be sure that you are applying one set to the other consistently in a step-by-step manner that your audience can easily understand.  If any part of the subject might be confusing to your audience because its members know much less than you do, you need to explain it to them clearly. 

Be sure, in addition, to introduce, explain, or connect each quotation at least briefly (see the "Quoting & Paraphrasing" chapter in the "Researching" section) to the content of your discussion.  Have you also considered what kind of problem the author of your text presents and how each theory or viewpoint you use represents some kind of solution?  Can you help your readers perceive it in this way?  

FIRST & SECOND DRAFTS: Have you used all of the needed steps to write and revise your drafts?

  1. Free-write: after you have added quotations, try reading your paper aloud to see if it is choppy or has missing ideas.  If either is the case, trying rewriting the choppy parts freely, without copying what you've already written, or freewriting new paragraphs to complete your missing ideas. (To help cure choppy sentences, see "Using Mixed-Length Sentences" in "Editing.")  For general freewriting, see "How to Start First Drafts.")  

  2. Gather details: do you have details--quotations, paraphrases, facts, figures, and/or stories--to help prove or exemplify your analytical points?  If you are using one or more viewpoints, can your audience picture the type of people who exemplify them?  Can you provide quotations from your theory or viewpoint sources: e.g., a textbook, encyclopedia article, or instructor for theories, or a written source or interview (with quotations from it) for types of people/viewpoints?  

  3. Write for your audience: is your audience an instructor, your professional coordinator, or your own peers?  Have you visualized your audience?  Have you read your paper aloud as if reading to this audience?  Have you tried reading your paper aloud to a friend or family member, pretending he or she is your audience?  Will each step of your paper, idea by idea, sound logical, unbiased, and interesting to your audience?  At what points might your audience have trouble understanding what the various viewpoints--yours and others--mean, or how they apply to your text?  

  4. Organize: have you kept your introduction, conclusion, and/or a beginning summary reasonably short, moving excess discussion in them to body sections?  Do you need to reorganize the body sections for the greatest degree of logic, clarity, and audience interest (placing more interesting information first and last)?  Does your paper proceed in each topic section using the same pattern of application (i.e., is each topic section's presentation organized like the other topic sections, in a parallel pattern, step by step)?

  5. Research: iF you need to support your points and/or others' points with research, do you have a sufficient number of high-quality sources?  Have you fully integrated them with your paper by adding quotations and/or paraphrases from them?  If you are using non-print sources such as interviews, videos, or television, will they be considered appropriate and representative (well representing a viewpoint or theory) by your audience?  If you are using online sources, have you checked them carefully to verify their quality and accuracy (see "Evaluating Web Sites" in

STYLE & TONE: Have you converted all parts of your writing to the appropriate style and tone?  An analysis should use an academic writing style, and you should remember to include phrases a few times on each page, especially at the beginning of each new topic section, that indicate you are applying a theory, viewpoint, or system--not your own personal ideas.  Your overall tone should be quite objective.  Your tone may be dry, warm, clinical and detached, or even somewhat critical.  However, it must be even throughout so that you clearly are being equally objective in every part of your paper, and so your audience believes this, too. 

AUTHENTICITY: Have you tried to go to the heart of the matter you are discussing?  Do you believe that you have represented each viewpoint or theory and the text to which you are applying them accurately and fairly?  If not, what do you need to do to remedy the problem?  Have you written respectfully to your audience?  Are your supporting details sufficient and accurate enough that your audience will believe in the authenticity of your contents?  

Final Advice Given in Most Chapters

For specific, line-by-line editing, your paper needs proper development of both your particular points that you are making and points or places in the text to which you are referring.  In other words, you need to explain not only yourself, but also your sources/readings.  Your sources/readings must be absolutely clear to your reader in a fair, balanced, logical way.  You must, therefore, not just use quotations and paraphrases.  You also explain them.  (See the "Quoting & Paraphrasing" chapter for how to do this.) 

Remember that the typical quotation should, in many disciplines, have a statement of a source--a name or title--at its beginning; and, after it, there should be a page number (if the source is printed).  The typical paraphrase should have a source--a name or title--either before or after it, along with a page number (if any) afterwards.  In addition, quotations, paraphrases, and stories should not just be tossed into your paper: rather, they should be introduced by having a statement before and/or after each of its connection to what you are saying. 

In most papers, you should use the third-person pronoun: "he," "she," "it," and "they."  You should not use "you" unless you are giving directions, or writing a diary or personal reflection, or a less formal magazine or newsletter article or other specific advice (as in this chapter). 

In most formal writing situations, instructors and supervisors also often dislike the use "I" at any time (unless you are referring to yourself in a story example).  However, some forms of academic and professional writing--especially if a specific instructor or supervisor allows it--are starting to allow the use of the "I" pronoun.  If in doubt, ask your instructor or supervisor.

Paragraphing in most academic papers follows some relatively standard guidelines.  You are working with a lot of information when you write a formal paper.  For this reason, clear, consistent paragraphing becomes even more important. 

Your paragraphs should help you logically divide your body sections into smaller sub-parts, ideas, or sub-ideas--just for the sake of clarity and ease of reading, if for no other reason.  Also, generally, for a short- to medium-length paper, you should have one paragraph each for your introduction, conclusion, and--if you have it--your summary. 

You should, as a matter of habit, have at least two or three paragraphs per page in your final draft.  On the other hand, be careful not to have too many paragraphs per page.  If you have a lot of short, choppy paragraphs, combine them.  The goal, graphically speaking, is to provide your audience with a variety of paragraph lengths--an occasional short one for emphasis or change of pace added to a mix of varying medium and long paragraphs.  The goal in terms of content is to make your ideas flow so well that your audience can easily keep them clear and separate without ever even noticing your paragraphing (or, for that matter, any other mechanical aspect of your paper).  For more advice, go to the "Paragraphing" chapter.  

Several other common, useful strategies of efficient, thorough editing are in the several chapters of the "Revising and Editing" section.  Some of these strategies also are summarized in the following very-brief web page:  

Very Brief Review of How to Edit Your Final Draft.

Good luck with your writing of this type of paper.  For more advanced and/or interesting information on this type of paper, please see the "Advanced" section of the chapter.


Return to top.





Section E.
Responding to Reading


Chapter 27. Analysis:







Related Chapters/Pages:

Analyzing with Rhetorical Modes

Research Writing

 Related Links in

   3. Thinking & Reading

12. Types of Papers

14. Online Readings

16. Research Writing


Updated 1 Aug. 2013

   also is at and

Natural URL:
Previous editions: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998;, 1998-2012
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13.  Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted
Permission is hereby granted for nonprofit educational copying and use without a written request.
Images courtesy of Barry's Clip Art, Clip Art Warehouse, The Clip Art Universe, Clipart Collection, MS Clip Art Gallery and Design Gallery Live, School Discovery, and Web Clip Art
Click here to contact the author: Richard Jewell.  Questions and suggestions are welcome.



















The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.