Language is the basis of communication. Within communication, specifically written language, writers may have different purposes with their work. As a reader, it’s beneficial to understand a writer’s goal, and as a writer, it’s important to understand how to use language to work for your own goal. Therefore, understanding text structure is vital for both readers and writers. What is text structure, and why are the types of structures that exist? Let’s dive into it.
What is Text Structure in Writing?
First, let’s define text structure
There are five primary text structures that exist. Before diving into them, let’s take a look at the general text structure definition.
TEXT STRUCTURE DEFINITION
What is text structure in literature?
Text structure is the way in which a writer organizes language and information within text to serve a specific purpose. Depending on the goal of the writer, text can be structured in various ways to best communicate information to a reader clearly and effectively. The structure of a text’s beginning, middle, and end is directly influenced by the intention and purpose of the writer.
Types of Text Structure:
- Cause and effect
- Compare and contrast
- Problem and solution
What Are All the Text Structures
Types of Text Structure
As we mentioned in the text structure definition there are various purposes writers have when writing. Text structure depends entirely on the purpose of a writer. There are five types of text structure that exist for this reason. Here’s a video breakdown of the five types of text structure.
To recap, there are 5 types of text structure:
- Cause and Effect
- Compare and Contrast
- Problem and Solution
Let’s take a deep dive into a list of text structures and analyze text structure examples of each.
Description Text Structure Meaning
Description is a text structure that is designed to create a vivid, detailed description of something. This is achieved by using descriptive language to describe traits, features, and characteristics of the subject. Here's an example:
“Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California”
- National Parks Service
What Does Text Structure Mean
There are two ways that sequence text structure can be used: to communicate a chronological sequence of events or steps in a procedure.
Sequence text structure for the purpose of chronological events is a common structure used in historical literature or non-fictional literature. Sequence structure for procedural information is common in educational literature from cooking instructions to scientific methods.
Example 1: “World War I, also known as the Great War, began in 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. His murder catapulted into a war across Europe that lasted until 1918.” - World War I (history.com)
Example 2: “Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and process until the largest pieces of butter are pea-size. Transfer to a large bowl.” BA’s Best Apple Pie (bonappetit.com)
TEXT STRUCTURE MEANING
Cause and effect
Cause and effect text structure is primarily used to communicate the causal relationship between an event, action, or idea and what follows. The text is designed to make the causality and correlation between the two clear to the reader. This is also a common structure in both educational and historical literature. For example:
“After inflating, the universe slowed down its expansion rate but continued to grow, as it does still. It also cooled significantly, allowing for the formation of matter — first neutrinos, electrons, quarks, and photons, followed by protons and neutrons.” - How Did the Big Bang Happen? (astronomy.com)
Text Structure Meaning
Compare and contrast
Oftentimes, writers need to analyze the similarities and differences between two subjects. A compare and contrast text structure allows them to do just that. These comparisons are typically between people, places, events, ideas, or concepts.
“Beethoven has a much more fiery personality. Whereas Mozart’s music is clean and precise, Beethoven employs many surprises in his music. Many times he will build up the music as if it’s leading to something only to suddenly get soft – his trademark use of subito piano.”
— Mozart vs. Beethoven (livingpianos.com)
What is Text Structure Used For?
Problem and solution
Lastly, the problem and solution text structure is designed to present a problem and transition into a proposed solution for said problem. The structure is designed to both create reasonable cases for why the problem exists and/or is important and why the proposed solution can be effective.
This text design is common in political literature and speech as well as business and technology. Here's an example:
“Transportation is the second leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. (burning a single gallon of gasoline produces 20 pounds of CO2). But it doesn't have to be that way. One way to dramatically curtail transportation fuel needs is to move closer to work, use mass transit, or switch to walking, cycling or some other mode of transport that does not require anything other than human energy. There is also the option of working from home and telecommuting several days a week.” — 10 Solutions for Climate Change (scientificamerican.com)
Text structure is valuable for both readers and writers to understand. It allows readers to know the intention of the writer they are reading from the beginning of a text. Writers can utilize structure to support the purpose of their work. Hopefully this article has given you insight on the value of text structure and how it can be used.
What are Literary Devices?
Text structure is a great way to design your writing with a purpose in mind. Literary devices are also valuable tools that help writers achieve the goal of their work. In the next article, we break down a full tool kit of literary devices that you have at your disposal as a writer.