A persuasive text is non-fiction writing that aims to convince the reader of a point of view. Adverts and newspaper columns are examples of persuasive text.
Uses of Persuasive Text
Persuasive text can be used and found in a variety of publications, such as:
- newspaper columns;
- advertising campaigns;
- academic essays;
- campaign flyers.
No matter where persuasive text is used, it tends to have one goal: to persuade the reader to take the writer’s side.
Usually, writers using persuasive writing techniques will have an argument, idea, or message that they’re trying to convince the reader to agree with.
Think about adverts, for example. They use techniques to convince you that their product is the best and that you need to buy it. It is a type of argument. They’re arguing that you should give them custom and buy their product.
Rhetorical questions do not need an answer, but they get the reader or listener thinking. This technique is commonly used in advertisements.
For example, an advert might say, ‘Want to make your life easier?’ Of course! Everyone does. But in the context of an advert, this will pique the audience’s interest: how will this product or service make my life easier? The advert will then explain exactly that.
Emotive language stirs your imagination. It helps to paint a picture in your mind.
This technique is prevalent in persuasive texts that have a moral message.
For example, a brochure covering the dangers of plastic pollution may use emotive language to call you to action. ‘Our planet is dying, choking on the plastic we feed it…‘
‘Dying’ and ‘choking’ is powerful, dynamic verbs that evoke a clear image in the reader’s mind.
Facts and Statistics
If you want to convince someone that they should listen to you, you will use facts, reasoning, and statistics, right? Yet, 100% of our readers say, ‘yes’!
Evidence is frequently used in persuasive texts to convince the audience that the writer or company advertising to you is trustworthy and reliable. For example, they may say something like, ‘85% of our customers agree!’. Hearing that other people trust this service or product encourages us to try it too.
Statistics can also be used to show the importance of something. For example, a campaign flyer about rainforests may include statements such as that over 200,000 acres of rainforest are burnt daily.
The more you hear something, the more likely it is to be accurate. Well, not exactly – but hearing something repeatedly does convince us on a subconscious level. That’s why lots of persuasive texts use repetition throughout.
For example, if a company is having a summer sale, it might repeat the phrase ‘50% off!’ to convince you how great of a deal it is. It can be particularly annoying if it’s part of a jingle that gets stuck in your head!
Modal Verbs and Adverbs
Modal verbs call the reader to action. These are verbs such as ‘must,’ ‘should,’ and ‘will’ – ‘you MUST act now. They make the audience sense the situation’s urgency, persuading them to take action as soon as possible.
Modal adverbs leave no room for question – these are words such as ‘definitely,’ ‘absolutely,’ and ‘certainly.’
Sometimes, modal verbs and adverbs can be used together to create a clear call to action. For example, ‘You absolutely must act now.’
Opinion as Fact
Particularly for opinion pieces such as articles and essays, writers will state their opinion as if it’s a fact to convince the reader of their argument.
For example, if a persuasive text discusses deforestation, the writer might say that ‘deforestation is a cruel way to rid so many species of their homes.’ It is the writer’s opinion written as plain fact.
This technique persuades the reader to trust the writer and their opinion on this topic.
Persuasive Text Examples
Here are some examples of persuasive text. The first includes extracts from ‘Anyone Who Knows Anything About Fashion Has Stopped Wearing Fur,’ an article published by Dan Mathews on the Newsweek website.
‘Celebrities and socialites are also turning their backs on fur. In January, Anjelica Hustondonated her old, unwanted furs to PETA and helped us cut them up to be used as bedding for orphaned wildlife. “These coats were given to me decades ago when I had no idea how animals suffered in the fur trade,” explained the Oscar winner.’
‘It’s now widely accepted that animal fur and faux fur have the same R-value, a measure of the heat retention provided by fabric. Notably, Team Canada’s Winter Olympics uniforms (which members of parliament once proposed should include fur from dead seals) were manufactured this year using all-vegan materials—a tacit admission that using animal skins for performance clothing is obsolete. It’s a sign of the times that the maker of these uniforms, Hudson’s Bay Company, was established nearly 350 years ago as a fur-trading business.’
The article includes many writing techniques that are common in persuasive texts. Here are just a few:
- The text includes examples of high-profile celebrities, such as Anjelica Huston and Canada’s Winter Olympics team, who have shown a public stance on the issue of fur. The author does this to demonstrate that several important and well-respected figures agree with him on the topic, adding a greater degree of authority to the text.
- The author comments on the Canadian Winter Olympics team’s use of vegan materials for their uniforms as a tacit admission that using animal skins for performance clothing is obsolete. Although this is the author’s opinion, it’s written as though it’s a statement of fact, encouraging the reader to share and accept his point of view.
- In this sentence, the word ‘obsolete’ and the author’s comment that this is a ‘sign of the times’ portray fur as an outdated and unfashionable material, whereas more animal-friendly options are growing in popularity. As readers will not wish to feel left behind or uninformed, they almost have no choice but to adopt the view that fur is wrong.
Again, the author uses definite, factual statements, describing plastic as a ‘huge problem.’ The adjective ‘huge’ helps to create a sense of urgency in the reader, informing them that this is an issue we need to act on as quickly as possible.
Emotive language is also used to elicit a reaction from the reader. For example, the verb ‘pollute’ and the pronoun ‘our’ help the reader think of themselves as part of the Earth, giving them more reason to be upset by the damage being done to it.
Metaphorical language is also common in persuasive texts. Here the author describes how the oceans are being turned into ‘plastic soup’ – an upsetting image that helps illustrate the problem’s scale.
Evidence is also beneficial when trying to persuade your reader. In this case, the writer has used the frightening statistic of UK supermarkets producing ‘800,000 tonnes of plastic yearly. Like metaphorical language, statistics and quantitative evidence can go a long way to help people to understand the scale of an issue