The Communication Triangle

A Tool for Rhetorical Analysis

Communication in any form relies on a dynamic relationship among a writer, reader, and a topic. These aspects exist within a context, motivated by a purpose. Whether you are a reader or a writer, the questions below can guide your analysis or composition of any text type. 

In collaboration with Writing Across the Curriculum, the Writing Center has drafted a helpful resource regarding "the Communication Triangle" (often referred to as "the Rhetorical Triangle"). By using this post-card, writers can have a helpful guided experience with the following:

  • Writing for a reader
  • Writing within a context
  • Writing with a purpose
  • Reading any genre
  • Reading new information
  • Picking topics

Questions to Ask

When writing your particular text type, consider the following questions so as to stay in touch with what your audience expects of you, how you can stay focused on the meaning an purpose of your text, and in what ways you need to adhere to certain context expectations: 



  • As the writer, how should I sound, and what role am I playing in relationship to my audience?
  • What does my reader need from me in order to understand my message?
  • Is my audience an expert on my topic or a novice?
  • Does my reader expect specific sources?
  • What words, ideas, and methods of investigation will help me explore or explain my topic?
  • What is my purpose? 
  • What am I trying to accomplish within my context?
  • What form and organization are best for my text type?
  • Where can I find examples?
This is a photo of our printable post card. The content is reflected in the paragraph containing questions to ask oneself during the writing process.

Want to Learn More?

Feel free to watch this video, which was made in collaboration between the SWS Director and members from the Writing Center Administration. Though the video is meant to inform teachers of writing, it can be helpful for student writers, as well. 


To learn more about audience and argumentation, consider reviewing these pages and/or handouts:

Attention to Audience

Avoiding Logical Fallacies

Persuading Your Reader

The Communication Triangle Video

The Communication Triangle Video

Have other questions? Stop in and visit! Or call us at 331-2922.

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Page last modified February 14, 2019