Text Features: What You Should Know About Texts
Human beings have important elements in their bodies such as a heart, lungs, blood vessels, and a brain. These elements stand out from other features of our body.
Textbooks and informational text also have important elements that stand out from the other parts of the text.
While reading your textbooks, you have probably seen some of the following: • Previews • Table of Contents • Glossary • Index • Headings • Subheadings • Charts • Graphs • Illustrations/ Photographs • Titles • Maps • Diagrams • Guide Words • Keywords • Bold & Italicized Text • Captions • Text Boxes
These are called text features and the main purpose of these is to help us understand the information in a text.
Table of Contents • The table of contents is a list of the major chapters and parts of a book. • A table of contents assists the reader--and sometimes the author or editor--in finding specific sections. • It also clarifies the material's overall organization.
Glossary • A glossary is an alphabetical list of key terms within a publication. • They might include names of people, events, and places too. • The purpose of a glossary is to help you understand the language of a subject.
Index • An index is usually the last several pages of a publication, after the glossary. • It gives the location of every important idea, term, definition, person, and place mentioned in the text. • The purpose of an index is to help you find specific information.
Titles, Headings, and Subheadings • Titles and headings give you an idea of the topic that will be covered in the text. • We usually skim through the titles, headings, and subheadings to obtain a purpose for our reading. • They help us increase our comprehension when we turn our them into a question or prediction of the text.
Charts • Charts give us information, show processes, or make comparisons. • They tend to pack a lot of information into a small space. • They are great resources to help you understand information in a text.
Diagrams • A diagram is a drawing that shows a visual representation of something in graphic form. • Diagrams can help us organize ideas. • Examples: • A Venn diagram helps us compare and contrast ideas. • A flow diagram, also known as a flow chart, helps guide us through steps.
Graphs • Graphs use lines, pictures, and symbols to show us information. • The main purpose of a graph is to help us interpret and analyze data in a clear form. • It is important to always read a graph’s title, labels on the vertical and horizontal axes, and any other text included with the graph.
Illustrations/Photographs • Illustrations and photographs help us visualize the information that we are reading. • Photos and illustrations can quickly tell you what it might take many words to explain. • Sometimes, the picture relates to the text, but the caption explains something else. • Therefore, it is IMPORTANT to read the captions!
Captions • Again, ALWAYS read the captions! • Captions can tell you the reason for putting the picture or illustration in the text. • Captions can say, in a few lines, what the author takes paragraphs to explain. • Sometimes, captions can just be fun facts
When reading a map, pay attention to the following: • Lines • Symbols • Labels • Compass Rose • Scale • Colors • Legend or Key • Lines of Latitude and Longitude Maps Present information in visual form and show where something is or where something happened.
Guide Words • Guide words are typically used in dictionaries to help us find specific words that we want to know the meaning of. • Guide words are represented as a range of what is available on the page. • The first guide word represents the first word on that page and the second guide word represents the last word that page.
Keywords • Keywords tell you to slow down and pay attention to what you are reading. • They are usually the words that the author wants you to focus on/make sure you understand during reading. • Keywords are usually bolded, italicized, or underlined. • These signal that a word, term, or event is important.
Text Boxes • Text boxes are used to provide additional information related to a photo or illustration. • They are more detailed than a caption. • Text boxes can also be used to highlight important details in a text. • They can be used for vocabulary purposes, to identify facts, or to make information stand out.
And now you are saying, • “So What?”.
Here’s the, “So What!”. Putting text features into use will help you understand more of your reading, and probably allow you to do it in less time!
You can use text features to become more successful and efficient in your reading of informational text.