Analyze a Document

How To Analyze a Document

If you are having trouble analyzing a document for class, please consult the following guide.

When it comes to analyzing documents, we want to use something called the "Soapstone" Method. What does that mean? Well, we want to look for:

  • Speaker
  • Occasion
  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Subject
  • Tone

Why should we use this? Easy! The method helps up "unpack" documents and understand them a little better. It's also a strategy that can be used to assess point of view or bias. So, what specifically should we look for in each aspect? Let's get started!

1. Speaker - Is someone identified as the speaker in this document? Do we know anything about the speaker? Where are they from? What do they believe in?

2. Occasion - What caused the author to write this? What events lead to its publication or creation?

3. Audience - Does the speaker have an intended audience? Who do you think that audience is? Who was the document created for?

4. Purpose - What is the speaker's purpose? How do they convey this message? What are some of the emotions the speaker has? How does this document make you feel and/or how do you think its supposed to make you feel?

5. Subject - What is the subject of the document? How do you know this? How is the subject being presented by the speaker?

6. Tone - What is the speaker's tone? How is it perceived by the audience? What is the speaker's point of view? Does it influence their feelings toward the subject?