Analysing written texts

revision cards on analysing written language

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purpose of texts

written texts have one of four main purposes:

  • inform e.g. newspaper
  • instruct e.g. cookbook
  • persuade e.g. advert
  • entertain e.g. comic

not all texts fit into these categories e.g a film review might be informative, entertaining and persuasive

can usually work out the primary function by looking at its langauge and presentation using the 4 frameworks:

  • lexis- vocabulary/specific words
  • graphology- how the text is arranged
  • grammar- sentence length and structure
  • semantics- meaning (actual or hidden)
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Informative texts

  • informative writing needs to contain knowledge or facts that readers want to know
  • structured clearly so they're easy to understand
  • may include presentational features such as headings/subheadings, bullet points, boxes and illustrations
  • the information is presented in a way that is suitable for the intended audience- for example if it is intended for children the language is simple and less detailed
  • the text may include specialist or technical terms and explain them
  • the tone is usually serious and don't generally include opinions or comments, some informative texts simply consist of times and dates
  • informative texts are usually written in the third person
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Instructional texts

are similar to informative texts because they include information, however, the main function is to tell the reader how to do something so have a clear, structured style:

  • usually include chronological, numbered sections
  • use graphological devices such as bullet point and headings
  • the instructions are often given as imperative sentences
  • the text may use second person forms to address the reader directly
  • the lexis is straightforward and uncomplicated but can be subject-specific
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Persuasive texts

  • try to either influence the reader's opinions or persuade them to do something
  • they often use first person address (I and We) to communicate the writer's feelings and include the readers. Possessive pronouns like our and your also personally involve the reader in the views expressed in the text
  • they use emotive adjectives and subjective judgements to provoke emotional and intellectual responses
  • they use facts, statistics and other evidence to support the main argument, linked together with connectives such as therefore, because and however to create a logical route to conclusion
  • they might use eye-catching graphology such as logos, capitalization and colour to attract the reader's attention and stress the importance of a particular point or argument
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Entertainment texts

entertainment texts include novels, stories, articles, verses, songs, poetry, plays, biographies and autobiographies

even though there is a big range of entertainment texts, they tend to have several features in common:

  • sophisticated language
  • figurative language
  • extensive vocabulary
  • often complex structure
  • varied sentence types
  • eye-catching layout

these techniques help the writers of enterainment texts to express personal feelings and produce poetic thoughts and ideas

these features also influence how the audience experiences the text

some writers choose to change or ignore expected conventions for effect

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=the group of people that the text is aimed at

intended audiences can vary from the very general (e.g adults) to the very specific (e.g. females over 30 with young children)

  • writers tailor their texts for different audiences and purposes
  • to work out the audience of a text you need to be able to recognise and describe how a text suits a particular kind of reader
  • you can find clues about the audience, their age and relative status, and how the writer feels about them in the language of a text e.g. if a text contains simple sentences and basic lexis its likely to be for a young audience
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known and unknown audience

known audience

  • writer may use personal pronouns like I and you, this writing is commonly found in memos, personal letters, diaries and stories
  • the writer may use language that expresses emotion, feelings or opinions
  • a writer may have a target audience they know quite a lot about e.g. science fiction fans, writer will choose language that they expect will be understood and have an effect on members of the target audience

Unknown audience- sometimes the text for an audience is unfamiliar, often found in academic or instructive texts:

  • writer doesn't acknowledge reader directly- written in 3rd person
  • no expression of personal feeling and no use of 1st or 2nd person pronouns
  • text is quite formal- may use formal vocabulary, imperative sentences or the passive boice
  • texts for unknown audiences deal with serious subject matter rather than entertainment
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similar genres of texts seem to follow a distinctive pattern. A group of texts with the same features is called a genre

  • genre conventions make written and spoken communication more efficient
  • when you read a text from a particular genre you have certain expectations about it
  • knowing what kind of text you're reading lets you predict what form it will take
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types of genre

examples of written genres include: letters, reports, poems, stories, advertisements, postcards, recipes, emails, cartoons, text-messages etc each genre has a different writing style for example:

Letters- formal convention

  • sender's address at the top
  • date an dear sir/madam
  • concludes sincerely/faithfully
  • followed by a signature

text messages- extremely informal

  • highly contracted language (lol, btw)
  • emoticons
  • language based on sound (e.g. gr8)
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Authors of literary texts

literary texts are part of the very broad entertainment field. people read them because they can:

  • entertain or amuse the reader
  • affect the reader's emotion
  • describe the atmosphere
  • examine the personality of a character
  • influence how the reader looks at the world
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3 main types of literary texts

Prose- novels, short stories, biography, autobiography

  • it's structured as a running text and divided into paragraphs and chapters
  • there are often no subsections, chart or lists and usually no illustrations
  • it has a beginning and usually a definite ending
  • the narrative is told from a certain point of view


  • poems tend to vary in content, structure, style and intention 
  • some present narrative stories, some are written to be performed, others to explore emotional issues
  • some organised into stanzas
  • line length can vary considerably and the poem may or may not rhyme
  • there are some traditional forms poems can take e.g. sonnet
  • there are also traditional metres e.g. pentameters
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types of literary texts and narrative voice


  • plays consist of dialogue between characters or a character talking directly to the audience
  • they also include stage directions to instruct the actors and describe actors
  • the speech is very important, as it's main way for the audience to understand the action and the characters

narrative voice

  • a first-person narrator in a text tells the reader directly about their feelings and experiences. The text is viewed through the character's eyes
  • a third-person narrator tells the story from a detached viewpoint, as a voice separate from the characters
  • a third-person omniscient narrator let the reader see into the minds and thought of all the characters
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figurative language

figurative language adds layers of meaning to texts

  • imagery creates a scene in the reader's mind
  • a simile is when something is described in comparison to something else
  • a metaphor creates a comparison but implies the subject and the thing it's being compared to are the same
  • personification is a kind of metaphor, in which the attributes of a person are given to abstract or non-human things
  • symbolism is where a word or phrase represents something else
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rhetorical language

phonological- manipulates sound, words or phrases might be used because they sound good

  • rhyme is particularly effective in poetry because it can contribute to the musical quality of a verse, it unifies the poem and can add emphasis to certain words
  • alliteration is the repetition of the same sound, usually at the beginning of each word, over two or more words together
  • assonance is a similar repetition but of vowel sounds
  • onomatopoeia refers to words that sounds like the noise they describe

Structural- affects the overall meaning of a text

  • repetition is often used to add emphasis or persuasiveness to a text, it can add power to a subject or help lead to dramatic climax
  • parallelism repeats structural features like construction of a phrase
  • antithesis is when contrasting words or ideas are balanced against each other
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writers show their attitudes in texts

  • values and morals depend on those held by the writer or speaker
  • texts can show prejudice and bias
  • might show their attitudes quite explicitly e.g. journalist
  • writers sometimes draw on personal experience because its easier to write about what you know
  • writers are often influenced by the social or political environment they're in

can show attitudes through their characters

  • may draw on stereotypes when they're constructing characters
  • may create characters based on how the media represents groups of people
  • writer may unconsciously reflect the views or values or wider society
  • you can get an idea of a writer's values and beliefs from how they subvert stereotypes
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language choices influence the reader

the manipulation of the reader is a frequent tool that writers use to increase the impact of their texts or even to subvert conventions

  • politicians delivering speeches about social problems want listeners to feel like they share their desire to solve the problem, they use inclusive pronouns like we and us to position the listener as a confidant and supporter
  • a charity leaflet may use emotive words to represent the treatment of people or groups and convey the seriousness
  • writers can use different viewpoints in novels and articles
    • first person narrative can bring readers close to the text and they can get emotionally involved. 
    • third person omniscient narratives give insights into characters and allow the reader to step back and be objective
  • writers can also subvert these conventions to manipulate the reader e.g. using a first person narrator that turns out to be completely unreliable
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language choices have to appeal to the reader

  • members of an audience bring their own experience, personality, prejudices, beliefs and values to their interpretation of any text
  • writers might aim to appeal to audience by writing things that they know they'll agree with
  • writers might know their readership and try to influence or change their views in some way
  • the meaning of a text can be ambiguous, often the meaning expressed on a literal or explicit level is different to the one on a figurative or implicit level
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Charlottte Dykes


Thanks so much! :D really helpful!

Emily Wardle


Helps me soooooo much cheers =D

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