Charting a Text for What It Says/Does

Adapted from the work of Katie Hughes

Charting involves annotating a text in order to show the “work” each paragraph or section (made up of multiple paragraphs) is doing. Charting has many benefits: it helps students to identify what authors are doing in various parts of the text rather than simply what s/he is saying (and this helps students to move away from summarizing and into analyzing); it can serve as a way to thoroughly understand in a detailed way how a text is put together; it brings rhetorical awareness of the specific choices and deliberate “moves” made by authors throughout a text. 

How do we do charting?

Break down texts by section or paragraph to analyze what each section/paragraph is doing for the overall argument. Ask, what is the purpose of the section/paragraph? What is the author doing, how, and why? It’s important to select strong verbs to describe what authors do.

  • For instance, maybe the author makes a claim, supports a claim, illustrates with examples/anecdotes, describes issues, contextualizes the topic, clarifies misconceptions, rebuts counter arguments, criticizes previous work, appeals to the audience (to their emotions or sense of logic), builds credibility for him/herself, outlines what happens next in the text, etc.

Try this format:
The author [VERB] [IDEA] by [EXPLAIN HOW].

Example:
The author then moves on to analyze the politics of language by challenging so-called “Standard American English”.

NOTE: The word “challenging” is also a verb, but it is included in GREEN as part of the “EXPLAIN HOW” part of the sentence.

Here are some additional sample verbs to draw on (avoid thinks, believes, says/states, discusses):

Acknowledges
Advocates
Amplifies
Analyzes
Argues
(Constructs an) Analogy

Asserts
Assumes
Attacks
Challenges
Claims
Clarifies
Compares

Complicates
Concedes
Concludes

Contrasts
Contradicts
(Presents) Counterarguments

(Presents) Counterexamples
Debates
Deconstructs
Defines
Defends
Discusses

Distinguishes (between)
Exaggerates
Examines
Exemplifies
Explains
Extends

Forecasts
Faults
Frames
Identifies
Illustrates
Introduces
Implies
Infers

Investigates
Justifies
Outlines
Parodies

Predicts
Problematizes
Proposes
(Sets up a) parallel
Qualifies
Questions
Rebuts
Refines
Repeats
Reframes
Ridicules
Satirizes
Stresses
Summarizes
Supports
Synthesizes
Theorizes

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