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How To Structure A Visual Analysis Essay: 5 Basic Rules

The first step in learning how to write a great visual analysis essay is to understand what a visual analysis paper is, what it entails, and what it is included in it. A visual analysis paper is one that offers a detailed, part by part description, analysis, and interpretation of a work of art such as a painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, or mural. The goal of the visual analysis paper is to understand all the individual parts of the work of art in order to understand it better as a whole.

A visual analysis paper can be quite different from other kinds of essays that students will write, so it is important to understand how they should be structured. Follow these five basic rules for how to structure a visual analysis paper:

  1. Start with an introduction to the piece
  2. It is helpful with a visual analysis paper to provide some background on the piece before you begin your analysis in order to allow your reader to better understand the piece and its context. The introduction of your paper is typically the best place to do this background information, as it will come before your analysis. When writing your introduction, be mindful of only including as much background is necessary, as the main purpose of the paper is analysis.

  3. Use body paragraphs for different themes
  4. Your paper will have several body paragraphs that come between the introduction and conclusion. It is helpful to use different body paragraphs to address different themes in the piece.

  5. Work through the piece methodically
  6. Even if the main organizational structure of your paper is based around themes, still try to work through the piece methodically. This will help your reader follow your analysis and will keep your paper from becoming too manic.

  7. Uniformly cite the piece
  8. Try to come up with a system for referring to the piece uniformly throughout your paper. Perhaps refer to its quadrants, or different parts of the image such as the face or body. Either way, just be sure to pick on and stick with it.

  9. Use your conclusion to summarize
  10. Your paper’s conclusion should be used to summarize the main points that you have made throughout the paper, and to remind your reader why it is important. Be sure not to include any new information or analysis in your conclusion.