Jo Doran, Ph.D., M.F.A.

Assistant Professor & ESL Coordinator, Northern Michigan University

Rhetoric & Business Writing

Logos has long been considered the human reasoning behind ideas. It is the sense of logic in our language, and can be thought of as the evidence to a thesis and the reason/reasoning behind our accepted truths. Logos is the ‘data’ of our communication.

In business writing, logos can be seen in the use of the following:
•    Knowledge of your topic
•    Clear and concise writing
•    Critical thinking/writing (see Bloom’s Taxonomy)
•    Straightforward yet professional communication (in the U.S.)

Pathos is the emotional connection we create with our reader/listener. Pathos is seen in our appeal to values and passions. Audience awareness is extremely important when using pathos, especially between different cultures.

In business writing, pathos can be seen in the use of the following:
•    Awareness what the reader/listener knows and needs to know
•    Awareness of and concern for cultural norms of the reader/listener

Ethos is the writer’s/speaker’s credibility and is built up (or destroyed) by the use of logos and pathos. Ethos is also built upon reputation.

In business writing, ethos can be seen in the use of the following:
•    Appropriate use of logos
•    Appropriate use of pathos
•    Knowledge of your topic
•    Self-confidence in what you are sharing

Interesting and Possibly Helpful Quotations, Links, etc.:

  • “. . . begin to answer the question “So what?” So what does this effect [within the document] have to do with the intended meaning? So in what ways do these [existing] structures, strategies adn stylistic devices [being used by the author] work together to create certain effects, sensations, or ideas [or do they not?]?” Nordquist
  • “Rhetoric” by Aristotle (translated by Roberts)
  • Scholarly Definitions of Rhetoric
  • Rhetoric