Document Analysis S. O. A. P. S. Tone Defined

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Document Analysis

S.O.A.P.S.Tone Defined
Whenever you encounter a document, whether primary or secondary sources, one of the most important skills you’ll need to have is the ability to determine the points-of-view (p.o.v.’s) that are present in the document. To write effective p.o.v. statements on Document Based Questions, begin by applying SOAPSTone to each document you look at. Always formulate questions that the document elicits.


Ideas to Think About


  • What is the document’s content and subject (i.e. what is it saying)?

  • How do you know this?

  • How has the subject been selected and presented by the author?

  • What ideas or values does the document presuppose in the audience?


  • What local, regional and/or global events prompted the author to create this piece?

  • What events led to its publication or development?

  • What conditions needed to exist in order for this document to be created, disseminated and/or preserved?


  • Does the speaker identify an audience?

  • If not, who was the likely audience for this piece? For whom was the document created? Was there an unintended audience?

    • What assumptions can you make about the audience in terms of social class, political affiliations, gender, race/ethnicity, occupation or relationships to foci of power?

  • Does the speaker use language that is specific for a unique audience (SLANG)?

    • Why is the speaker using this type of language? What is the mode of delivery?

    • Are there any words or phrases that seem unusual or different (JARGON)?

  • Does the speaker evoke God? Nation? Liberty? History? Hell? Science? Human Nature?

  • Does the speaker allude to traditional, provincial/urbanized, classical, pre-modern or modern themes? Above all, what is the author trying to achieve or gain with this document?


  • In what ways does he/she convey this message?

  • How was this document communicated to the audience?

  • How is the speaker trying to spark a reaction in the audience?

  • What is the speaker and/or author’s purpose?


  • Is there someone identified as the speaker?

  • Is the speaker the same as the author?

  • What inferences can you make about this person?

  • E.g. What class does he/she come from? What political party? What gender?


  • What is the author’s tone?

  • What is the author’s mood and how is it conveyed? For what purpose?

  • What is the emotional state of the speaker and how can you tell?

  • How is the document supposed to make the reader/viewer feel?


  • Once you’ve analyzed the document with all the lenses of SOAPSTone, you’re ready to ask your own questions and make assertions of your own. What are they?

  • What else would you like to know about the author/speaker, or about the society/historical era in which he/she lived?

  • Based on all of the above, what are potential biases that the document contains? Your answer to this question will shape a P.O.V., and should always take into account at least 2 lenses from SOAPSTone.

  • What other types of documents would you need in order to better understand the document’s point of view?

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