A text feature is something present in a book, article, fiction, or nonfiction writing that facilitates an easier understanding of its content.
Text features are essentially the components of a book or an article that are not considered the main body of text.
Although text features are most often associated with nonfiction books, fiction books also contain text features.
There are many text features available in most modern books and publications.
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Common Text Features To Teach Students
The most common text features include the following:
Title: Tells readers what a book is about. It shows the reader the main idea of the book
Table of contents: This lists the main topics and parts of a book or a piece of writing including their respective page numbers
Index: Usually found on the last pages of a book, it is an alphabetical list of key terms, phrases, and topics in a book
Glossary: Can be called a book’s miniature dictionary. It’s an alphabetical list of key words and key terms in a book and their various definitions and in some cases includes their pronunciation
Headings: Usually printed in bold letters, it helps readers identify individual major sections of a book
Subheadings: Helps readers understand and identify specific sections within a major section or heading
Tables: Organizes a large amount of information and different forms of data or information
Text Styles: Can be colored, bolded, underlined, or italicized. It helps direct readers on the best way to read the content of a book
Timelines: Illustrates relevant events in a sequential order
Images: Transmits information visually
Diagrams: Similar to an image, a diagram is a drawing that explains something
Labels: This includes words used to describe specific sections of an image
Captions: Usually below or above an image. It summarizes the contents of an illustration or image
Maps: Shows the basic shape and features of a geographical location
Footnote: An additional piece of information printed at the bottom of a page
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3 Types Of Text Features
Directional Text Features
As the name suggests, directional text features essentially help guide readers to various sections of the books.
Examples of directional text features include table of contents, headings, indexes, and more. These are easy to identify or point directly to a specific page or section of the book.
Supplementary Text Features
As the name suggests, supplementary text features aim to provide additional information to supplement the contents of a particular page in a book.
A typical example of this form of text feature is a footnote or glossary. Footnotes are usually positioned at the bottom of a page to provide additional information. Footnotes may be italicized, bolded, or relatively reduced in font size.
Visual Aid Text Features
An image can convey a thousand words and that’s exactly why visual aid text features are relevant. Simply talking about an object someone hasn’t seen may not convey the full picture but an image would help clarify specific details of the object or person.
Examples of visual aid text features include images, diagrams (graphs, charts, maps, and many more), and other forms of visual aids.
Usefulness Of Text Features
Text features are necessary to be included in any modern publication. Authors include text features in these publications for various reasons including:
- Helping the reader better understand the content of the publication
- Text features may contain information that may not be present in the text
- Helps buyers to identify the appropriate material before purchase
- Aids in faster reading
Non-Fiction Text Features
Non-fiction essentially focuses on providing readers with facts and information about people, places, things, and events.
Information presented in a non-fiction book must be factual and not made up and information presented in non-fiction books is organized with text features.
Using text features enables authors to easily convey the content of the non-fiction book to readers.
This means that readers do not need to read the entirety of the book but can simply leverage the text features to directly access the necessary information.
Examples of text features used in non-fiction books include:
- Table of contents
- Text styles
- Diagrams and charts
Fiction Text Features
Fiction books essentially originate from the imagination of the author. Events and characters in these books are only made up by the author and did not happen in real life.
Fiction books in most cases do not require the need of certain text features like diagrams and charts, captions, tables, glossaries, and indexes.
That said some of the popular text features available in fiction books include:
- Table of contents
Difference Between Fiction And Non-Fiction Text Features
Although fiction books contain a number of text features, non-fiction books mostly contain more.
Text features like charts, tables, glossaries, indexes, and more are usually not found in fiction books.
How To Teach Text Features
Understanding the importance of text features is key at the early stages of education. This will enable learners to easily read their books and have a much clearer understanding of their contents.
Additionally, this makes it easier for learners to review or revise the information presented in these books.
Learners can easily open a specific section of their books to review what they previously learnt.
The first step is to ensure that learners have an understanding of the various text features present in nonfiction and fiction books.
This means helping learners to better understand the usefulness of text features such as title, heading, subheading, table of content, images, charts, labels, tables, and many more.
Although this is might come easily to most adults after years of reading books, learners at the lower levels have much less experience in this regard.
The second step is to take up one of their books and mention a particular text feature, such as a heading in the book and then ask them what that tells them about that section.
This does not necessarily need to be a heading alone, other forms of text features could be leveraged at this stage including the glossary if available.
The third step would be to present them with a worksheet for them to identify the text features present in a select number of books.
This can be done either in groups or individuals in the classroom or as assignments at home.
In this case, learners would only need to tick whichever text feature they identify in the worksheet as well as the page number if necessary.
This will enable them to acquire a better understanding and appreciation of text features.
The Bottom Line
Although text features have been available for as long as books have been printed, having an understanding of its usefulness will help you better direct your students to better leverage them in their education.