How to Write an Analysis/Structure Paper

The assignment to write an analysis paper is daunting for most students. Assuming the role of a critic and analyzing a complex text seems a formidable task, however, establishing a systematic procedure to complete the assignment makes writing easier. Most first-rate essays address a specific question. Your analytic essay should be constructed around providing an answer to your chosen question, backing up your claims by citing expert opinions and critical writings about the subject.

Analysis Paper Structure

The first paragraph of your paper should clearly make a statement on the purpose of the essay. What is the essay attempting? What primary texts will it focus on? Which critical or theoretical positions will it refer to and what conclusions can be anticipated? The statement of intent is the thesis of your essay. Any disclaimers should also be included in this section.

Identify the primary text, explaining the reasons for its selection and the issues it raises. Relate these to established critical opinion and to the text's perceived role in the critical or literary canon. Explain, in a humble manner, why your reading of the text will endorse/supplement/question/transcend what has been said and thought about the primary text.

Paraphrase the main critical position you have chosen to focus on. Provide an outline of associated theoretical positions that endorse your argument. If you are applying one critical approach to your chosen text, explain on what grounds you have chosen to apply the particular theory.

Identify the areas in your primary text that you have chosen to critique. Why are they important, how can they be considered controversial and why might they call for further scrutiny and interrogation? How can your own questions about them be related to those of critics and commentators about the text?

Relate your argument to other texts by the same author; published criticism about the text and the author; related texts; and other theoretical positions which you have not dwelt upon, but which can in your opinion be brought to bear upon the essay. Next, modulate others' comments with your own main argument.

Summarize your analysis, dwelling on its salient points from a theoretical point of view. Identify issues about the subject that are raised by your analysis, explaining how these can be related back to the theory you have read. Explain what might need to be addressed were further space and a broader scope available to your essay.


Write in a clear manner organizing your argument by breaking your main points into separate paragraphs.


Cite all sources at the end of your essay using a consistent citation style.

Things You'll Need

  • Primary sources
  • Secondary sources