Five Canons of Rhetoric: Arrangement

A canon is a set of standards for what makes for good writing. Some examples include the five canons of rhetoric, which are well-established rhetorical principles that have been taught in schools and universities across the United States since 1880

The “five canons of rhetoric examples” is a list of five rhetorical devices that are used in the writing of speeches, essays, and other texts.

Martin Luther giving speech to crowd.

Welcome back to our Classical Rhetoric series. Our five-part series on the Five Canons of Rhetoric continues today. We spoke about innovation the last time, which is just brainstorming and preparing your speech or writing. We’ll look at the canon of arranging in this part. Let’s get this party started.

What Is Arrangement and How Does It Work?

The arranging of a speech or writing to guarantee maximum persuasion is known as arrangement. A speech was split into six sections by classical rhetoricians. They are as follows:

  1. a brief introduction (exordium)
  2. Facts and Figures (narratio)
  3. Separation (partitio)
  4. a demonstration (confirmatio)
  5. Objection (refutatio)
  6. last thoughts (peroratio)

You’ve undoubtedly encountered this approach for arranging a speech or paper if you’ve attended debate or philosophy courses.

1. Provide an overview

An excellent opening has two parts: 1) presenting your subject and 2) establishing trust.

Introduce your subject. The fundamental objective of your opening is to declare your topic or the purpose of your speech–to convince, instruct, applaud, etc. Isn’t it simple? No, not at all.

The success of any speech or article depends on the quality of your beginning. Your audience will decide whether or not your speech is worth listening to in the first few seconds. You’ve lost their focus for the rest of the speech if you can’t get their attention immediately away.

So, how can you introduce your topic in a manner that catches the interest of your audience? You know the drill: start with a quotation, ask a rhetorical question, or declare a startling fact about your subject. Those are good methods to introduce your subject, but they’ve been done to death. Some guys also attempt to start with a joke, but most of the time it goes flat, the speaker’s credibility plummets, and the audience starts to tune him out.

In my experience, the greatest approach to begin a speech is to tell a compelling tale that pulls the audience in and emotionally engages them. This is something that all journalists do on a regular basis. No matter how tenuous the link, they constantly strive to uncover a human element to each tale. Check out Made to Stick, a book I previously suggested for advice on writing intriguing and sticky tales.

Establishing trustworthiness Quintilian emphasized that a rhetorician should employ the persuasive appeal of ethos throughout the opening. Ethos is an appeal to your character or reputation to influence your audience, as you may recall from our lecture on the three modes of persuasion. You won’t have any power with people if they don’t believe you’re trustworthy or a legitimate source, no matter how rational your case is.

2. Facts and Figures (narratio)

The background information required to bring your audience up to speed on the history of your problem is included in the statement of facts. The idea is to provide your audience enough information to grasp the context of your argument. If the goal of your speech is to persuade people to take a certain action, you must first persuade the audience that there is a problem that needs to be solved.


Don’t merely regurgitate a list of facts. Make it fun to read or listen to them. Make up a tale. Narrate.

While the statement of facts is generally meant to educate your audience, it may also be used to convince them with some minor tinkering. Now, I’m not suggesting that you invent facts out of thin air; only a scalawag would do that. However, you may stress or downplay facts that help or hinder your case.

This is something that lawyers do all the time. To support their case and their client, they’ll utilize specific wording and accentuate or deemphasize certain facts. As an example, consider a murder trial.

Both sides must acknowledge that someone has died, but they will do so in different ways in order to advance their respective cases.

“The defendant, Mr. Killzalots, shot the victim John Smith, a well-known community benefactor, twenty times at point blank range in front of the victim’s children,” the prosecution would add.

The defendant’s lawyer may say something like, “John Smith was shot.”

The prosecution underlined that Mr. Killzalots was the one who fired the shots, and that he did so many times in front of the victim’s children. Furthermore, he said that the victim was well-liked in his neighborhood. This was an effort to elicit compassion for the victim while instilling wrath in the defendant. Deemphasizing was a big part of the defense attorney’s strategy. He didn’t want pity for the victim, and he certainly didn’t want fury aimed at his client. As a result, he sought to use as neutral a tone as possible while describing the crime.

It’s an extreme example, but it demonstrates how a well-crafted factual statement can be a potent instrument for persuasion.

3. Separation (partitio)

Quintilian suggested that the most successful technique to segue into your argument after providing your facts is to use a partitio: a summary of the arguments you’re going to make. Consider the divide as a route map for your audience. You’re about to take them on a logic and emotion trip, so give them a sense of where they’re going so they can follow you more easily. When I’m listening to a speech, I prefer it when the speaker begins by stating, “I have three points to make today.” That way, I’ll know how far along he is in his speech (and, if it’s boring, when it’ll stop!).

4. Validation (confirmatio)

The major body of your speech or essay now begins. This is when you will present your case. You want to build logical reasons that your readers can grasp and follow in the proof part. Review our prior part on logos if necessary to confirm that you’re utilizing strong and logical reasoning. When building your arguments, remember to go back to the facts you presented in your statement of facts to support up your claims. If you’re recommending a course of action, you need to persuade others that your answer is the best for tackling the issue you just detailed.


5. Objections (refutatio)

It’s important to point out the flaws in your argument to your audience once you’ve created a powerful and persuasive explanation for your position. This may come as a shock. Why would we go to such lengths to demonstrate to our audience why our argument is flawed? While it may seem that disclosing your arguments’ flaws is unhelpful at first, it will really make you more convincing in two ways.

For starters, it allows you to anticipate and respond to any counterarguments raised by the opposite side, as well as any reservations your audience may have. Bringing out your opponent’s or audience’s flaws before a counterargument is made takes the bite out of the counterargument. And some individuals will already be thinking about objections; if you don’t answer those arguments, your audience will conclude you can’t, that you have something to conceal, and that they are correct after all.

Second, emphasizing your argument’s flaws is an effective application of ethos. Nobody loves a knucklehead. A little intellectual humility may go a long way toward gaining the audience’s trust and like, and so persuading them to believe what you have to say. Recognizing that your argument isn’t perfect is a simple method to win your audience’s compassion and trust.

6. Final thoughts (peroratio)

The purpose of your conclusion is to summarize your argument as succinctly as possible. Simply restating your facts and evidence will not enough. You must use emotion in your conclusion if you want people to remember what you said. In fact, Quintilian emphasized that near the end of a speech, pathos–or the appeal to emotion–should be used generously. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is perhaps the greatest example of a very successful, emotion-filled finale. “At long last, I’m free!” he exclaims. At long last, I’m free! Thank God Almighty, we are finally free!” still sends tears to eyes and shivers to spines, etching the words in the memories of all who hear it forever.


101 Series on Classical Rhetoric a brief overview An Overview of the Past The Three Persuasion Techniques Rhetoric’s Five Canons – Invention Arrangement of the Five Canons of Rhetoric Rhetoric’s Five Canons – Style Rhetoric’s Five Canons – Memory Rhetoric’s Five Canons – Delivery Fallacies in logic Bonus! The 35 Most Powerful Speeches in History



The “arrangement canon of rhetoric” is a canon that focuses on the arrangement of elements in a work. It’s one of the five canons of rhetoric.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the canon of arrangement?

A: The canon of arrangement, or the lineage of all songs on Beat Saber is a series which begins with Metallica – Orion and ends with Walking On Sunshine.

What does arrangement mean in rhetoric?

What is arrangement in writing?

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