How to Engage Readers by Picking and Developing an Appeal
There are three types of appeals that you can use in your persuasive writing to make your arguments more effective. In this video, you'll learn about logical, ethical, and emotional appeals as well as how to use them.
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Engaging Readers Through Appeal
You should watch this video because it will help you prepare to take written essay exams that you want to do well on.
You should watch this video because I’m an experienced English instructor, so I have good ideas about what you need to do to prepare for essay exams.
You should watch this video because doing well on exams can mean doing well in college, and succeeding in college can help you achieve all of your personal goals.
Each of these statements is a different type of appeal . Were any of them convincing? Did they affect you in different ways? Did any of them seem better than the others? The main reason that you should watch this video is to learn about these different types of appeals in persuasive writing, as well as how and why you should make use of them to do well on the essays you write.
What Is an Appeal?
In writing, an appeal is a persuasive strategy that a writer uses to support an argument. We use facts, data, and examples to support our arguments, but those are different from appeals, which have to do with how we present facts and examples in our persuasive writing.
There are three basic types of persuasive appeals: logical appeals; ethical appeals, or those based on the credibility of the writer; and emotional appeals. We’ll take a look at each type, as well as how and why you might work with each type of appeal in an essay.
I mentioned earlier that ‘you should watch this video because it will help you prepare to take written essay exams that you want to do well on.’ That’s a logical appeal because I’ve tried to appeal to your reasoning and logical judgment. When you make a logical appeal , you use reasoning to make your case. This is probably the most important type of appeal you’ll make in most of your writing as a student and the type that should be used most often.
For example, if you’re writing a persuasive essay arguing that your high school should make community service a requirement for graduation, you might offer the logical points that such efforts would lead to improvements within the community and students will learn the value of community service work . Develop each of your logical appeals thoroughly by offering facts and examples to back up those assertions.
Why should you rely on logical appeals most often when writing persuasively? Well, teachers who grade argumentative papers look to see whether you can construct a sound, logical argument. You may have personal, emotionally driven reasons for feeling the way that you do about an issue, but for graded essays, work on developing logical, well-supported persuasive points.
I mentioned earlier that ethical appeals are those based on the credibility of the writer. I said at the start of this video that ‘you should watch this video because I’m an experienced English instructor, so I have good ideas about what you need to do to prepare for essay exams.’ I was trying to convince you that I’m a good, reliable source and that watching this video is a good idea based on my qualifications. An ethical appeal is based on the credibility of the writer.
It seems that everyone has an opinion about most things, but that doesn’t mean that we want to listen to what just anyone has to say about every issue. We tend to be convinced by experts and trustworthy people who have experience with the issues that they write about. You might think ‘I’m just a student; I’m not an expert on the topics I have to write about.’ That’s okay!
There are several ways that you can build your credibility and prove your character through your writing. You’ll typically use sources when you write essays, either by conducting research for term papers or by relying on source materials provided to you for an essay exam. As you write, it’s important to convey to your reader that you’ve sought out and referenced the ideas of people who are knowledgeable and experienced on the topic you’re dealing with.
For example, let’s say you have an interview with a long-time, distinguished high school principal discussing her views on requiring community service for students. You can use this resource to make an ethical appeal to your readers. You could highlight the fact that a high school educator and principal of twenty years has witnessed firsthand how compulsory community service can help build the character of students .
Making this ethical appeal can add weight to your own assertions about why this type of community service should be required and may help convince your reader of your point of view. You can develop an ethical appeal by thoroughly conveying the expert opinion and experiences of the credible, reliable sources that you come across in your research or that are provided to you for an essay exam.
Even if you’re not using any sources at all in your writing, you can still establish your own credibility and trustworthiness. First, be sure to proofread your writing carefully to catch any grammatical or spelling mistakes. Readers are more likely to accept the content of your paper as accurate and reliable if the mechanics of your writing are accurate, too. Second, be sure to acknowledge opposing points of view as you make your argument. By doing so, you’ll show that you’re honest, that you’ve considered all angles, and that you’re therefore a fair person who can be trusted.
Earlier, I made the emotional appeal that ‘you should watch this video because doing well on exams can mean doing well in college, and succeeding in college can help you achieve all of your personal goals.’
With an emotional appeal , a writer tries to draw upon the reader’s personal values and feelings. Making emotional appeals in persuasive essays can be effective because readers sometimes respond more strongly to an emotional story than to one driven just by logic and statistics. Hearing the individual story of a family deeply affected by the Great Depression may have a greater impact on a person than would reading data about the great number of people who suffered during that period.
Emotional appeals, therefore, can be useful. Going back to our community service example, you might mention in your persuasive essay that you personally performed community service as a student. You can explain that you volunteered in a soup kitchen and learned something valuable about the people in need in your community. You might then share a specific story about that experience, and that could be a valid and convincing persuasive strategy.
Remember, though, that as a general rule, you should limit your use of emotional appeals in persuasive writing. If you can use this type of appeal in a relevant way, it can be effective. However, students sometimes have a tendency to overuse emotional appeals and may sometimes even write entire essays that consist of nothing else.
You can develop an emotional appeal effectively by relating the specific story briefly and then stepping back and explaining how that story illustrates the larger point that you’re trying to make. For example, you might explain an emotional story about your community service work and then explain that what you learned about the difficulties of others was life-changing and that many of your fellow students had similar positive experiences.
Be especially careful when you’re really passionate about the topic you’re writing about. Remember that the person grading your essay is most interested in seeing how good your reasoning skills are and how well you can express specific points. It can be easy for us to get carried away when writing about something we care a lot about, and what’s meant to be a relevant emotional appeal can easily turn into a rant. Remember to use emotional appeals sparingly and with the intent to offer support for your other specific, reasoned arguments.
Remember that an appeal is a persuasive strategy that a writer uses to support an argument. There are three basic types of persuasive appeals: logical appeals; ethical appeals, or those based on the credibility of the writer; and emotional appeals.
When you make a logical appeal , you use reasoning to make your case. You should be making this type of appeal most often in your persuasive writing. Ethical appeals are based on the credibility of the writer, and emotional appeals are aimed at readers’ values and feelings.
This last approach can be effective, but be sure to make limited use of emotional appeals in your papers. You want to be sure that you devote plenty of space to logical appeals in order to highlight your reasoning skills, and you don’t want to rant or rely too much on appeals to your readers’ emotions in general.
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