Shales display significant seismic anisotropy that is attributed in part to preferred orientation of constituent minerals. This orientation pattern has been difficult to quantify because of the poor crystallinity and small grain size of clay minerals. A new method is introduced that uses high-energy synchrotron X-rays to obtain diffraction images in transmission geometry and applies it to an illite-rich shale. The images are analyzed with the crystallographic Rietveld method to obtain quantitative information about phase proportions, crystal structure, grain size, and preferred orientation (texture) that is the focus of the study. Textures for illite are extremely strong, with a maximum of 10 multiples of a random distribution for (001) pole figures. From the three-dimensional orientation distribution of crystallites, and single-crystal elastic properties, the intrinsic anisotropic elastic constants of the illite aggregate (excluding contribution from aligned micropores) can be calculated by appropriate medium averaging. The illitic shale displays roughly transverse isotropy with close to and more than twice as strong as . This method will lend itself to investigate complex polymineralic shales and quantify the contribution of preferred orientation to macroscopic anisotropy.