How to interpret and analyse sources

In regards to analysing sources at A-Level, I was taught to use the 'PACMAN' method to analyse and interpret sources:


  • the purpose should be written as a statement, similar to the following structure

  • "to (action) + (target audience) + (reaction)"


  • What is the author's origin/background?

  • How does the author impact the reliability of the source?

  • Does the author have a baised/objective view?


  • How does historical background/context affect the meaning of the source?

  • An example of this is the difference between Lenin's view of communism and Stalin's view of communism)


  • What message does the Cartoonist convey? What is their view?

  • An example of a sentence that shows an interpretation of the message is "The Cartoonist criticised that…"


  • Who did the author target when writing/creating the source?

  • Some examples of audiences are the parliament, the senate, an assembly or the public and these various audiences affect the message/purpose/etc of the source.


  • What is the nature of the source?

  • This refers to how the message is conveyed. Examples include a cartoon, a news report, a speech, a school textbook, a public address or as propaganda.