rhetorical triangle in your writing

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

You can break down your writing into three main parts when creating a good article. These are ethos, logos, and pathos, also referred to as the rhetorical triangle. If these three aspects are out of balance, your article will not reach the intended audience, or it may not be an article that readers trust or enjoy. If they don’t trust the article or the writer they will be less likely to support your business or come to you for future work. To avoid this from happening, you must first figure out who your target audience is. After figuring out who you want to reach with the writing, you must figure out what balance of the three aspects of writing you need to aim for.


Figuring out your audience has to be done before you start writing. To do that, think about what you’re promoting. Some questions you can ask yourself to figure this out are:

  • - What product do I have to offer?

  • - Who would be interested in this product or subject?

  • - What does the market look like for this product?

  • Asking questions like this will help you understand the type of audience you’ll be working with. Once you have your audience figured out, you can figure out what balance of ethos, logos, and pathos you need to maintain to appeal to them. If you're a non-profit organization, you might need to include more pathos-leaning elements than a company selling technology, but all three aspects are still important.


Ethos is the aspect of writing that deals with the writer's credibility and trustworthiness. There is where you can add customer testimonials, team credentials, certifications, and network connections that boost your credibility in the eyes of your customers and clients. A company whose work can be backed up with a successful history will be sought after more than a company with little to no credible information to back its work in its writing.

Another aspect of ethos in your writing is the sources of information that you use for your writing. If you pull information from other sources into your writing, you have to make sure they’re from credible sources, so it won’t harm your credibility. For example, let's say two companies are writing about a form of technology, and they have to pull information from another source to back their article. One company credits a website that has a known history of providing up-to-date and accurate information and background in the field. The second company credits an article from an unsecured site that has a known history of providing false or outdated information. The company that credited a reputable source will be considered more trustworthy than the company that credited the unreliable source. Their target audience will dismiss the information from the company that used the unreliable source due to their inability to trust what the article is saying compared to what the first company writes.


Logos is the logical aspect of your writing or the reasoning. This is where you’ll explain your goal and how you’ll reach it. Your grammar and writing ability come into play in this portion of your writing. If these aspects of your writing aren’t clear to your reader, they won’t be keen to support your business or share their content.

This is also part of your writing where your knowledge of the subject you’re writing about comes into play. Your readers will want to know the information you pull to back your article. If you don’t have enough information to back up your claims, your readers won’t trust what you say and will be reluctant to support you or your business.


Pathos is the emotional part of your writing. This is where you appeal to your audience in either sympathy, emotion, beliefs, or values. Outside of that, this is where aspects such as pictures and examples that the reader would relate to. Pathos is the part of writing that is used a lot in non-profit organizations. They use people’s emotional responses to push engagement to their platforms.

An example of this is how St. Jude research hospital uses pictures families and patients as well language that appeals to the charitable nature of people. Their name alone is an appeal to pathos due to them being named after “Saint Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes and a personal favorite of founder Danny Thomas.” as stated on their front page. The heartfelt meaning of their name and the personal fact of their founder makes people feel more empathetic toward their cause.


You know who your audience is, and you also know the three types of writing you need to use to persuade them. How do you now keep them balanced so that your audience stays engaged in your writing? In general, too much or too little of any of these three parts could weaken your article, so all three need to be present in some form. Your ethos, for the most part, will come from your ability to provide in the other two aspects. If you don’t provide enough of those, then your ethos will be weak. If you provide too much logos, your article could come off as too analytical and your readers will grow bored. If you don’t provide enough logos, then your readers won’t be able to trust your article. If you provide too much pathos, then your audience could feel like they’re being emotionally manipulated into providing support and it will make the article feel ingenuine. If you don’t provide enough pathos, you may again fall into the issue of the article sounding boring, and the audience may become detached from your writing

For more information on how to balance your ethos, logos, and pathos, check out this article.

We hope you learned some ways to figure out your target audience and how to balance and understand your ethos, logos, and pathos. If you need help with finding your audience and how to write for them, Comprehensive Consulting Solutions for Small Businesses can help!