Textual Analysis


A textual analysis is usually assigned in connection to a prompt. This prompt can relate to elements of the text such as structure, main ideas, and evidence. You might see prompts that ask you to compare and contrast two works, discuss a theme, or explain the significance of textual elements like setting or voice.

The first step you should take when writing a textual analysis is to read the text closely several times.

While reading, I find it helpful to highlight or underline main ideas, and points that relate the question I’m being asked. I might even use different colors to indicate different topics or ideas. Also, feel free to make notes as you read, whether on the text itself or in a separate location, I find that this really helps me to remember the thoughts I had while reading, and gives me something to build off of when I begin to write.

When writing your response look back at places you highlighted or that jumped out at you from the text that seemed important or relevant to the prompt. Use these as examples when analyzing the text, but try not to use direct quotes too often. For each piece of evidence you pull from the text, make sure to explain why it is important by connecting it to the topic or prompt.  Remember that it’s not necessary to summarize everything that happened in the text, only include information that helps strengthen your thesis.  This is a great way to make your argument clearer, and, at the same time, it can help you to weed out textual information that you do not need.

When I write this kind of analysis, a lot of the time I find myself just summarizing the text without connecting it back to my point. Remember that it’s not necessary to summarize everything that happened in the text, only include information that helps support your idea.

A few other things to keep in mind are that your textual analysis should focus on the text, do not add your own opinions, and avoid first person. Make sure that the parts of the text that you refer to in your analysis address the prompt directly, and that when direct quotations are used that they are put in quotation marks.


written by Eylina S.



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