GCSE English Language : Analysing Non-Fiction



gcse english languageThis section is about the content of your answers when you analyse non-fiction texts. Let’s find out exactly what you should include.

When analysing non-fiction texts, the four key areas to think about are Genre, Purpose, Audience, and Style. They are all closely related and you should make links between them. Not only will this give an overall sense of what the text is like, it will also help you back up your essay arguments.

Consider a text about an Xbox racing game. The text is an advertisement for the game in a magazine. Its audience is young adults of both genders. Its purpose is to persuade as many people as possible to buy the game and its style is informal. Having identified the purpose, you can analyse how the text uses its language and presentation to achieve it. For example, using more informal language will appeal more to young audiences because it is more familiar to them. It also presents an idea of leisure which relates to the fun of playing video games.


gcse english languageIn the previous section, we mentioned some of the different types of non-fiction, including newspaper articles and leaflets. Genre refers exactly to this: it is the type of text. If you can identify the genre of each of your texts at the start of your exam, this will immediately put you in a good position. You will be able to explain why authors present their work in that specific genre and will be able to support the arguments you make about the audience, purpose and style of texts.

Here are a couple of genres and features you can immediately identify before reading the text.

Text Genre Features
Newspaper articles headlines, sub-headings, photos, author name, date, contact email
Letters addressee, date, subject (Re: …), closing phrase (sincerely)
Travel writing title, photo, location details, paragraphs
An advertisement photo/picture of product/event, bold colours, bold writing, dates, prices, slogans, logos
A leaflet titles, sub-headings, bullet points, photos, diagrams, pictures, contact details, information
A charity appeal headlines, sub-headings, contact details, photos, facts
Instruction Guide diagrams, bullet/numbered points, advice, warnings, boxed text, contact details

If the text does not use these features, you should critique this in your analysis and either suggest an improvement or decide on a reason why (could be wordier as it is aimed at a more literary audience).