We all know how tiring it is to scroll through an article just to reach the relevant section. Or how time-consuming it is to go through the entire write-up just to understand what exactly it is talking about. Children are more easily frustrated by this. Therefore, we need an efficient way of assessing information. The text feature is one such technique.
This article will talk about text features definition, some examples, their purpose, and how to use them correctly. If you’re short on time, you can jump to the section you want through the tabs from the table of contents.
Text features help a reader move through the content in an organized manner. Rather than reading a bunch of information in a boring way, text features classify the content in a manner that you can easily find what you are actually looking for. This saves time and keeps the reader engaged. Even people who choose active tasks to gain knowledge (kinesthetic learning style) love text features, as this keeps them agile.
Let us understand them from a deeper perspective.
What are Text Features?
Text features or informational text features are an assortment technique that helps the reader by classifying the data into various categories. The reader can choose the section that seems the most relevant to them.
Text features are not included in the actual content but rather placed before, on the side, or at the end. They are not related to the flow of the content.
Text features define the scope and research of the content. The most common text feature is an index or a table of contents. These contain the name of the various sections in a tabular form, along with their designated page numbers. Many other text features have significant purposes.
To understand the text features definition perfectly, we should be aware of the types of text features available. Let us have a look.
Types of Text Features
The common goal of using text features is accessing the content in an efficient manner. However, every text feature has individual usefulness. The best way to understand this is to know them and use them to have a hands-on learning experience.
Text features are largely found in nonfiction write-ups like research papers, scientific content, or social studies. They even agree with the principles of universal design for learning, and offer knowledge in a unanimous format.
Discerning them will help in utilizing them better, which in turn will help in finding information quickly amidst the text. So, let us now get to know these better. Following is the list of various text features.
- Title and Subtitle: This is the introduction of the content or one of its sections in just a couple of words. It gives an insight into what the book or article will talk about.
- Headings and Subheadings: Just like the title gives the overview of the entire article, blog, book, etc., headings and subheadings focus on giving an insight into the sections.
- Table of Contents: This catalogs the various sections the content will be divided into. This helps us to understand the scope of the content. Some tables also have tabs that redirect you to the section directly without having to scroll through the entire page tirelessly.
- Index: It is a list of all the chapters in a book. Indexing is done in alphabetical order. Unlike the table of contents, the index doesn’t contain the entire chapter name. Rather, the index tabulates terms from the chapters with their page numbers.
- Glossary: This is a collection of all the words used in the content that are difficult to understand. Glossary provides a detailed definition of all the complicated terms used in the content. It is like a targeted dictionary that can be referenced for a better understanding of the content.
- Sidebar: This text feature is located at the side of the page and describes a part of the content in detail. This is important information that could not fit with the subject of the content.
- Pictures and captions: Pictures and captions are the simple, catchy, and shortest way to give a hint about the content. Sometimes people who don’t want to read the entire text scroll through it quickly just to get an insight into what article or blog may be covering. That’s when the pictures and their subsequent captions attract attention and can tell a story.
- Maps and Timelines: These two contribute to the visual representation of the content. It helps to know the exact location of an event mentioned in the content. Knowing the location and time period of events makes the interpretation easier, as it might help in envisioning the occurrence and circumstances.
- Labeled diagrams: Diagrams present what something exactly looks like. If they are properly labeled, you understand the diagram even better.
- Footnotes: Footnotes provide extra information. Footnotes are mostly used in academic writing, where a special comment or citation related to a part of the main content is mentioned at the bottom of the page.
- Keyword: Keywords are those special terms that are used by the general public to search for something on a search engine. Keywords are typed on the search bar and are most common amongst all search results.
- Bibliography: The compilation of all the sources that have been used or referenced during working on the content. Every resource, even the ones consulted the slightest, has to be a part of the bibliography.
- Font: Certain changes in the font highlights data. Italicizing, underlining, and bolding parts of the text helps in attracting attention to a particular part of the text.
- Inset snippets: These are a variation of images that give us either a bird’s eye view or a close macro view to focus on a certain detail.
Even though textual features are mostly related to non-fiction writing, fiction also makes use of certain text features. Some regular text features for the fictional world of entertainment are:
- Title: A title is a must-have whether it comes to fiction or non-fiction. The title is the introduction of the story or novel and signifies the genre of the content.
- Images: These are incorporated into the content to give the reader an illusion of the events described. It can be a battlefield, a fairyland, or some mesmerizing underwater cave; these pictures are not informational diagrams but rather just a delightful addition.
- Headings: Anyone who has read a fictional novel is familiar with the headings of the chapters. Each chapter has a distinct name that summarizes the tale it is going to tell. This is an essential aspect of the novel.
Now that we are familiar with what text features are, we should also thoroughly understand what purpose they serve.
Purpose of Each Text Feature
The strategic way of organizing content is done to ease and enhance comprehension of it. And the text features definition proves how it handles the subject in different and discrete ways. Every text feature assists the reading process in its own way. The purpose of text features can be listed in four categories.
To Focus on Individual Words
The words are written in different fonts to draw attention to them. Bold, colored, italicized, underlining a specific word, or using colons, etc., all serve this purpose.
Elaborating on the Part of the Text
Sidebars to add some extra information, overlays to define a selected term thoroughly, appendix to clarify concepts in detail, and a preface that outlines the main theme of the content ahead, work to elaborate the text in detail.
To Direct the Reader to the Desired Part
The titles, headings, table of contents, index, captions, labels, etc., help summarize the content in a way to locate the relevant portion easily.
Display Text in an Alternate Manner
Images, diagrams, graphs, pie charts, maps, etc., present the data in a striking manner. They are easier to read, and they stand out because of their noticeable difference from the rest of the content.
All text features contribute to delivering information in their own unique ways. In order to appreciate these features, we also need to understand their benefits.
What is a Text Feature Used For?
Simply put, they help in reading comprehension. For instance, a student needs to find data about Rafflesia Arnoldii. They will find plenty of articles on the internet. But the helpful articles will be the ones that arrange the facts in a strategic order. Starting with its habitat, its characteristics, where it is found, its weight, length, etc., the article should have proper headings relating to each aspect of the flower. That’s what makes an article worth reading.
Utilizing text features makes us understand the purpose of each of them practically. Why should we give a title? What’s the need for an index? What should be written in a footnote? – all these questions are answered. This also teaches the students how to access information effectively and enhances reading and learning proficiency.
Now that we know their underlying advantage let us focus on their benefits.
How to Introduce Students to Text Features?
The best way to teach students the importance of text features is to make use of them from the beginning. The featured text should be an important part of the learning process. This not only teaches students how to utilize them, but it will also ease up the reading process as well.
Imparting knowledge through fun activities is the proven way of effortless understanding. Teachers can design puzzles or treasure hunts in which the ultimate answer is a textual feature. This way, the kid will learn all the characteristics of the feature and will be able to use it on their own in the future.
Having understood the features thoroughly, they should be given assignments where they give examples related to as many text features as they can. They can prepare write-ups and include the features.
Even kindergarteners can begin identifying text features like bold letters and diagrams. This will lay the foundation of reading comprehension for them.
To help retain the information, students should be encouraged to make flashcards and charts depicting their learning and knowledge. Having them in the class and frequently referring to them will help refresh what they have learned.
After understanding comes practical experience. Students can be provided with articles about topics they know where they have to introduce the text features wherever they can. They will learn how textual features work through this activity.
A text feature walk is a significant approach to learning these aspects of informational texts. This is generally the final step while learning text features and works in reviewing the knowledge. In this, students are assigned articles and asked to identify each text feature and its purpose. Then they are asked to read the rest of the content and discuss how the text features helped them in their comprehension.
Text features make reading easier and more enjoyable. They are short and crisp but have a huge impact. Understanding their purpose and how to effectively use them, answers our queries much faster. Additionally, text features make the content engaging. Content that is appropriately organized into comprehensive sections intrigues the reader and compels them to read it.
The Orton Gillingham Reading Program: The Multisensorial Language Learning