Analysing Non-Fiction

Why Are Presentational Devices Used?

Why Are Presentational Devices Used?

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In your answers to the Reading Section, you will not only have to list the presentational devices used, you will also have to explain why they are used. Making the connection between these devices and the purpose and audience of the text will earn you marks. There are four main reasons for using presentational devices: mood, memory, clarity and focus.

Memory

Writers of non-fiction texts want them to be as memorable as possible so that they remain in the reader’s minds. There are often more specific parts of a text, the most important details, such as phone numbers or statistics which authors want their audience to remember. Writers use presentational devices to ensure they stand out and make more of an impact. This means that, if the reader pictures the text, they will be able to recall these parts. Examples of devices include:

  • Bold text: the eye is drawn to whatever is written in bold. This leaves more of an impact on the reader’s mind.
  • Headlines and sub-headings: again the effect of these devices is to draw the reader’s eyes towards them. In this case, the presentational aspect is usually combined with language devices (see language section) to create a memorable phrase.
  • Bullet Points: key pieces of information are bullet-pointed so that they are quick and easy to read.
  • Colour Text: this has the same effect as bold text.
  • Photos, pictures, diagrams etc.: the visual images are the first thing a reader sees when they pick up a text and can often stick in their mind.

Mood

Most texts will try to appeal to the reader’s mood to convince them to buy a product, go to an event or support an opinion. They will provoke emotions using persuasive language and presentational devices. Examples of this include:

  • Pictures: a picture of a sad-looking animal used in an appeal for support for animal rescue to create sympathy.
  • Captions: supporting the above picture could be the animal’s name, what happened to them and how they are doing with support. This will make the picture more real for the audience as it is a specific example.
  • Colour: red, orange and yellow used in a holiday brochure advertising a beach holiday to give the impression of brightness and heat. Yellow would make the reader feel cheerful.
  • Quotes: a quote from a celebrity giving their support (This is called an endorsement).

Clarity

Using presentational devices to help with the clarity of a text makes it much easier for a reader to pick out the key pieces of information. It can also enable them to understand the text more quickly. People are often busy and in a hurry so they need their attention to be grabbed and held. They also need the point of a text to be delivered almost immediately for them to continue reading. Examples of devices which help with this include:

  • Bullet Points and Boxed Text: draws the reader’s eye to short sentences and paragraphs which give key information.
  • Paragraphs: break up a large amount of information into smaller, more readable sections, so the reader is not looking at a huge block of text.
  • Bold Text: like bullet points, it focuses the reader on certain sentences.
  • Sub-headings: add more clarity to paragraphs, telling the reader exactly what they are going to be about.