Text Features and Text Structures: Everything You Need to Know
These are characteristics of a text that enhance the understanding of young readers. With text features & text structures, these readers can assimilate the essential components of the text.
Text features are commonly used in non-fiction works. They refer to the characteristics in a text that help the readers understand the information better, like the glossary, table of content, page numbers, titles and subtitles, italic and bold-faced type, graphs, labels, charts, diagrams, illustrations, etc. Thus, text features are the building blocks for text structure. One can say text features are to non-fiction what story elements are to fiction. It’s interesting to note that sometimes, text features are invisible to young readers unless their teachers or teachers explicitly point them out.
Though each text feature has a specific goal, the overall purpose of every text feature combined is to offer easy and fast access to information. For example, text features like the index and table of contents make reading research materials and informational texts more efficient. They let the readers quickly locate which pages of the book contain particular information, thus gaining the desired knowledge without having to read the entire book. Again, illustrations in a book are often accompanied by captions below each one where some words may be bolded. Usually, these words in the text are new vocabulary words that are defined in the glossary located toward the end of the book.
Text structures refer to how a specific text is constructed and organized to clarify content and cue the readers. For instance, a writer can design a piece of text in different forms like reports, manuals, step-by-step instructions, medical charts, etc. Text structures help students understand that a text might present a cause and its effects, a central idea, details, and/or diverse views on a topic.
When students learn to recognize and analyze text structures, they’ll be able to navigate the different structures present in fiction and non-fiction texts. Teachers may ask students to write paragraphs that follow familiar text structures, which would enhance their ability to identify these text structures when they are reading. Other teaching strategies include asking the students to examine topic sentences that offer clues to a particular structure, studying paragraphs that correspond to each text structure, etc.
When students learn to recognize common text features and text structures, they’ll be better able to engage in the text and improve their comprehension.