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Identifying Text Features

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Basics on the topic Identifying Text Features

Identifying Text Features – Introduction

Knowing and being able to identify text features is key to understanding the structure of texts. It also enables you to access certain information quicker. Let's have a look at the explanation of the term text features.

Text features are elements that are independent of a text’s main body. They include maps, photographs, graphs, tables of contents, titles, headings, bullet point lists, audios, videos, sidebars and many more.

Why is it important to recognise text features? Text features can provide additional information about the topic. Identifying text features in a given text can help us locate key ideas, understand vocabulary, expand the meaning of the text and represent information.

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Identifying Text Features – Examples

Now let’s use examples to practise identifying text structure features. Take a look at the text found on the Sofapedia website:

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Do you see the text feature called table of contents? This text feature helps the reader locate key ideas in the text. The table of contents guides readers towards a specific heading or subheading, so we can find the information we are looking for faster. For example, to learn about hedgehogs’ habitat, we would click on the subheading “Where Hedgehogs Live”.

Other text features that help us locate ideas in the text are titles, headings, subheadings and bullet point lists.

Bold print is a text feature that helps us identify specific vocabulary, which we need to understand the topic. In the example above, the word mammals is in bold. To find the meaning of the word in bold, simply click on it if you are using a website, or check the glossary if you are reading a book. A glossary is another useful text feature that helps us understand vocabulary.

A glossary is the list of unknown words in alphabetical order, usually included at the end of the book.

Some text features are used to expand the topic. A sidebar is a text feature that expands the meaning of the text. It usually contains extra facts that you won’t always find in the text. In the example article, there is a sidebar saying that There are 17 different species of hedgehogs! This is extra information that we won’t read about in the text itself.

Sometimes, authors need to represent information in an alternative way, without using words. To do so, they can use audio input, videos or illustrations. If you click on the audio button on the article web-page, you will be able to hear the sounds that a hedgehog makes. You can also see what a hedgehog looks like by looking at the photograph. To help us visualise where European hedgehogs live, the author added the map of Europe. All these text features represent information in a different way.

Identifying Text Features – Summary

Text features include tables of contents, titles, headings, bullet point lists, sidebars and many more. They can help us by providing additional information about the text topic. Different text features can help us locate key ideas, understand vocabulary, expand the meaning of the text and represent information.

Text Features Example
title ”The Hedgehog”
heading ”What Hedgehogs Eat”
subheading ”Food That is Dangerous for Hedgehogs”
bullet point list A list of the most common species of hedgehogs:
European Hedgehog
African Pygmy Hedgehog
Northern White-breasted Hedgehog
table of content 1 What Hedgehogs Look Like
2 What Hedgehogs Eat
3 Behavior
4 Where Hedgehogs Live
sidebar There are 17 different species of hedgehogs!

Text features also include audios, videos, maps, photographs and graphs. They help us visualise things discussed in the text.

Now you know what are some identifying features of informational texts. To practise more, watch our video and download an identifying nonfiction text features worksheet in a PDF format.

Want to know more about identifying text/graphic features in a story or an informational text? Check out our video about illustrations in informational texts.

Frequently Asked Questions about Identifying Text Features

Why is identifying text features important?
What are some strategies for identifying text features?
What are 10 types of text features?

Transcript Identifying Text Features

"What in the world is that?" "That's one strange-looking animal." "Let's do some research and see what we can find out." Pearl and Otis are researching about an unfamiliar topic. We can help them improve their reading skills by identifying the purpose of text features. Text features are elements independent of a text's main body. They include maps, photographs and graphs. Text features help us by giving us additional information about the text topic. The purpose of text features is to help us locate key ideas, understand words and vocabulary, expand the meaning of the text and represent information. We become better readers when we understand the different text features. Let's use the text features found on the sofapedia webpage about mountain goats to see how they help us learn more about the topic. This feature is called the table of contents. The table of contents is a text feature that helps the reader locate key ideas about the topic inside the text. When a topic is separated into many headings or subheadings, this feature guides the reader in finding specific information about the topic. For example, to learn about a mountain goat's eating habits, we would simply go to where the table of contents tells us this information is. Other text features that help us locate key ideas are titles, headings and bullet point lists. Bold print is a text feature that helps us identify vocabulary specific to the topic. Words that are in bold may be unfamiliar to you, so you can find their meaning by clicking on them, like on this website, or looking in the glossary if you are reading a book. A glossary is another text feature we can use to look up definitions of words. Sometimes there is information that the author wants to stand out from the rest of the text. They will put this information in a sidebar. A sidebar, or a fact box, is a text feature that expands the meaning of the text. These give extra facts about the topic that you won't always find in the text. Not reading a sidebar means you are missing out on important information! In addition to words, authors can represent information in other ways. These text features are aimed at helping our senses understand the topic. A text can describe in words, what something sounds like, but a text feature, like an audio button will allow us to hear it for ourselves. All of these text features work together with the main body of a text to give us the best information and deepen our understanding about a topic. In the comments, share a text feature you know and how it helps you to learn more about a topic! While Pearl and Otis finish their mountain goat research, let's review. Remember, text features help us by giving us additional information about the text topic. Text features help us locate key ideas, understand words and vocabulary expand the meaning of the text and represent information. Knowing the different text features and how they help us understand a topic, makes us better readers. Looks like Otis and Pearl aren't the only ones interested in learning about new animals. What is he is listening to?

Identifying Text Features exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Identifying Text Features .
  • Identify the purpose of each text feature.

    Hints

    A sidebar is a text feature that expands the meaning of the text.

    A graph is a text feature that represents information.

    Solution

    Text Features

    • sidebar --> expand the meaning of the text
    • table of contents --> help locate key ideas
    • glossary --> understand words and vocabulary
    • graph --> represent information

  • Identify the text feature.

    Hints

    A Table of Contents is a text feature that helps a reader locate key ideas about a topic inside a text.

    • A title is a text feature that helps you locate key ideas in a text.
    • Titles are found at the top of the text, and will be appear as larger text.
    Solution

    These text features can help you locate key ideas:

    • Table of Contents
    • Titles
    • Headings
    • Bullet Point Lists

  • How can text features help you learn additional information about a topic?

    Hints

    A glossary provides the definitions of words when reading from a book.

    To represent information about data visually, we can use graphs.

    Solution

    Text features help you learn additional information about a topic because...

    • If we do not know the meaning of a word, we can use a glossary.
    • The labels on a picture can tell you the names of the parts of something.
    • Graphs can present information, often using numbers or data.
    • Bold print can help you identify vocabulary specific to a topic.

  • Use the key ideas for additional information.

    Hints

    The behaviour of a goat means the way that it acts or socialises around other goats. Which sentence shows the way a goat behaves around others?

    Which sentence tells you where mountain goats can be found? This is where they live.

    Solution
    • What Mountain Goats Eat = Mountain goats eat mosses and grasses found between rocks.
    • Where Mountain Goats Live = Mountain goats can be found high up in rugged, mountainous areas.
    • What Mountain Goats Look Like = These animals are well adapted to their environments, with a thick, white coat to help them camouflage and cloven hooves that allow them to scale rocky cliffs.
    • Behaviour = Mountain goats form small groups in the winter, but are more solitary during the summer months.
  • What are examples of text features?

    Hints

    Text features can help you by giving you additional information about the topic. This diagram is showing information about the rain cycle.

    Do graphs give you additional information about a topic?

    There are three correct choices.

    Solution

    Graphs, photographs, and diagrams are some examples of text features. A price tag is not a text feature.

  • Based on the graph, which statements are true?

    Hints

    To find out what this graph is representing we need to read the title: Weekly Honey Sales.

    The label on the y axis represents how many sales were made. The label on the y axis represents each week.

    There are two true statements.

    Solution

    Based on the graph, these statements are true:

    • This graph shows how much honey is sold each week.
    • The coloured bars represent how much honey was sold in each week.