What is Informational Text?

Informative Text

Hello! Welcome to this video about informative text. It’s easy to think about informative text as writing that provides information, but it’s more than that. Not only does Informative text have its own style, but there are four types of informative text. We’ll go over that and more in this video. Let’s start by answering the question, “What is informative text?”

Informative text educates the reader about a specific topic. It’s a unique type of writing; you’ll see it in a number of different mediums. A manual with instructions for putting together a desk. A book that provides information on a vacation to a specific place. A non-fiction book that examines World War II. All are examples of informative texts.

Informative text can appear in newspapers, textbooks, reference materials, and research papers. Informative text is always nonfiction. This type of writing also has certain characteristics that make this style easier to identify. Let’s take a look at those.

Informative text contains a number of aids that make it easier for readers to follow along and get the information they need. Written cues, graphics, illustrations, and organizational structure are all aids you’ll find in informative text. We’ll start by looking at written cues.

You’ll notice these written cues in books. The table of contents, at the front of the book, makes it easy for readers to quickly see where they can find specific information. The index, found at the end of the book, neatly lists all of the topics and the page numbers that denote the location of those topics. If you’re confused by what a word or phrase means, you can check the glossary of terms, which provides those definitions. There might even be an appendix, which provides additional informative text on a specific subject. So how is this informative text organized?

Informative text uses type, fonts, and labels to help readers find information. A bold word creates emphasis and tells readers, “This is important.” A phrase set in italics is similar; it adds extra emphasis on an important word or phrase. Numbered or bulleted lists set apart important information in an orderly fashion. Authors might use headings, subheadings, and labels to also denote importance. Those are all ways informative texts can organize content. What other techniques do authors use?

Informative text may contain graphics to help the reader understand the subject. Think of a biology book you’ve recently used. When studying the human body, you’ll see a diagram that shows the location of vital organs and systems, like the brain, heart, and lungs. That’s an example of an informative diagram. It shows you the information while providing some explanatory text. In math books, you’ll see charts that explain how to analyze algebraic equations. You’ll find tables that explain the periodic table of elements. Those maps that show the location of countries? That’s also informative. Flow diagrams, sketches, and maps are all examples of other graphics used in informative texts. But graphics aren’t the only visual aids.

Illustrations provide additional visual techniques in informative texts. In the graphics section, I used the example of how authors can graphically represent the brain, heart, and lungs. With illustrations, we can take that one step further. For example, you can focus on one part of the heart by magnifying a specific area. That gives the reader even more information and the ability to study the pulmonary artery, the aorta, or the ventricles in greater detail. Photos are also used for illustrative purposes.

Written cues. Organization. Graphics. Illustrations. Those are all the characteristics of informative text. Now, let’s take a look at the four different types of informative text.

Books can be excellent sources of informative text. Biographies on historical figures fall under the informative category. Technical books on computer software are also informative. So are picture books on astronomy or the earth. Literary nonfiction like memoirs, essays, and autobiographies also fall into these categories. While poetry is known for its allusion, this style of literature also lends itself to informative writing — so long as the poetry contains factual information. This type of informative literary nonfiction tends to be shorter. Expository writing has a different set of characteristics.

Expository writing has those written cues we discussed at the beginning of the video. These books contain a table of contents, an index, and a glossary. These are all tools that let readers scan through material and pick what they want to read. The table of contents, organized by chapter, gives readers a chance to skip over certain types of information. For example, when reading a book about Earth, you may be fascinated by geology but not so much by geophysics. The table of contents will guide you to the geology portion of the book.

Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player to ever live. Global warming is not fake. Dogs are better than cats. These are all argumentative positions, and the author must try to persuade the reader through data and analysis. The author produces the claims, makes the arguments, and hopes that readers believe he’s right in the end. The last type of informative text is much different from the argumentative style.

Procedural texts provide a step-by-step guide for the user. A cookbook is a good example of procedural text. The recipes provide an ingredient-by-ingredient guide to create a specific dish. If you’re hanging a television using a wall mount, the mount will come with step-by-step instructions. If you’re putting something together, chances are you’re looking at procedural writing.

So those are the four types of informative writing. Literary nonfiction, which tends to be shorter writing; expository writing, which has written cues that make it easier for readers to scan information; argumentative or persuasive writing, which advocates a point of view; and procedural writing, a step-by-step guide.

That’s our look at informative texts, the writing technique that seeks to inform with facts. I hope this overview was helpful.

See you guys next time!