Here are what the letters mean, and the kinds of questions you can ask yourself to run the drill as you’re reading. Keep in mind that the APATSARC elements are connected–they often work together.
Who are the authors writing to or for? Who might the authors be thinking of when writing this publication? Sometimes writers will directly address audiences that they’re writing or speaking to, but often their audience is implied by what they say.
Why is the author writing or saying this? What goals might the author have in writing this? This element is often strongly connected to the next element, Argument.
What is the author’s main argument or main point? We often call this a controlling idea or a thesis statement. However, since we are looking at different texts created as a group, there may not be an explicit statement of an overarching argument. By looking at the types of arguments in the individual pieces, can you get a sense of a larger argument, or at least a method of argumentation?
What is the emotional, intellectual, or stylistic tone of this publication? If you had to pick an emotion to describe the publication, what would that be? You might begin by describing the tones of specific pieces and then see if there is a pattern that emerges from that, or you might step back and look at the larger scope of a piece and try to identify the tone that this publication is going for.
What is the structure of this publication? How would you describe the genre of this work? What sorts of media does it contain? How is the website where it lives structured? Does it have pictures or graphs? Is it chronological or does it move around in time? Do users have multiple methods of navigating through the site? Is it topical or are the pieces somewhat disconnected to specific events and time?
What assumptions do the authors make about their readers? What do the authors assume we know or believe? What experiences do the authors assume we share with them? What assumptions do the authors make about how the world works or how culture works?
R: Rhetorical Style
Most types of non-fiction writing use “rhetoric” (persuasive speech) and there are three sorts of rhetorical styles that most writing falls into: logos (using logic to make an argument, such as data, numbers, and facts), ethos (appealing to your reader’s shared sense of ethics, or including the reader in a shared ethical community), or pathos (using emotion to persuade a reader). While most non-fiction writing has elements of all three rhetorical styles, one style tends to be the primary style. See if you can identify the primary style of the text you’re analyzing.
Does this publication rely on certain kinds of specific contextual connections? Are there similar sites or publications that this one responds to or reacts against? Does this site live inside an ecosystem of publications with some similar methodologies or not?