Analysing Non-Fiction

Text Structure

Text Structure

This is the organisation of a text and cannot be underestimated. A good text structure will help the reader identify the key pieces of information more quickly. It is what readers rely on when they are unfamiliar with the topics. Text structure links with presentational devices because it is part of how the words are presented on the page.

Texts could be structured in chronological order, presenting a problem and a solution, cause and effect, compare and contrast or main idea and detail.

Here is how a text structure builds up:

Words

The author chooses the correct words to fit the genre, audience, purpose and style. Remember to identify whether they are formal or informal, simple or difficult and whether or not they are technical. Do not confuse formal and technical: a text could use technical vocabulary (Chemistry – diffusion, osmosis) and still be written in an informal style.

Sentences

CaptureLook at sentence length variation. Are the sentences all the same length? Are some short and some long? The author may vary the length for effect, using long sentences then adding a quick, attention-grabbing sentence which hits the reader full force.

Paragraphs

The sentences are ordered in paragraphs. Each will have a sub-message which forms part of the author’s overall argument. In the case of advertisements, paragraphs could be scattered and consist of only a small sentence or phrase. It will be up to you to analyse the message each paragraph aims to tell the reader. When you examine a text, look at paragraph length. Are they all the same? Is there one paragraph which is longer or shorter than the others? Is there a reason behind this?