Types of texts

There are different types of texts according to various criteria, such as their intention or discursive function, whether they are literary or non-literary texts, or whether they are digital texts.

According to their intention or discursive function, the texts can be narrative, informative, expository, etc. Discursive intention is the purpose for which a message is being communicated.

Literary texts, on the other hand, have three main categories: narrative, lyrical and dramatic. While the non-literary include scientific, humanistic or advertising texts.

Digital texts, for their part, can be unimodal or multimodal, depending on whether or not they have elements of interaction with the user.

These categories are not rigid, since a single text can contain, in itself, the characteristics of several types. For example, a storybook in digital format is a narrative text with descriptive passages and at the same time it is digital.

Types of texts according to their discursive function

In 1979, the German linguist Egon Werlich proposed 5 types of texts according to their function: narrative, descriptive, argumentative, expository and instructive. This classification, called the Werlich system or typology, has been expanded over time and new categories have been added, such as normative, informative or persuasive texts.

narrative texts

They are texts that inform about the development of an action that occurs in a sequence of time. It is the best known and most used type of text, since it is the structure that we use every day to relate events or situations. A biography, a journalistic chronicle or a historical account are narrative texts.

Narrative texts have the following characteristics:

  • The order in which the events are narrated can be chronological, in flash-forward (anticipating future events), from the present to the past, etc.
  • They have an informational orientation: the objective is for the reader to know the state of a particular situation.
  • The narration can be in the first, second or third person; the latter is also called the omniscient narrator.

Narrative text example:

“March 15 passed like any other Sunday. Santos Ríos Carranza did the housework and at nightfall he repeated the usual routine: he lit a candle, prepared dinner and fed his father. washing the dishes when her lover arrived to alert her. She had received a message by cell phone. They said that the president had just announced a quarantine to stop the spread of the coronavirus, that the best thing was to be isolated and wash your hands well. In Nueva Esperanza, a humble neighborhood located in the hills of Villa María del Triunfo that has not had a connection to the drinking water network for more than 20 years, complying with that order was not easy. “

Fragment of the journalistic chronicle entitled “Lima fights against the coronavirus with murky waters”, written by Gloria Ziegler and Mirelis Morales Tovar and published in eye-publico.com

Descriptive texts

They are texts that offer relevant and concrete information about the characteristics or qualities of a person, animal, object, phenomenon or feeling. For this reason, it is common to use qualifying adjectives in these cases. Descriptive texts, in turn, can be of three types:

Objectives : when traits or attributes are described accurately and closely to reality.

Subjective : when states of mind are described, either of the characters, of the situation or of the author himself.

Sensory : stimuli that we perceive with the five senses (smells, tastes, textures, images, sounds) are described.

Among the most relevant characteristics of descriptive texts, the following stand out:

  • They are detail-oriented: the goal is for the reader to be able to make a mental representation of the concept as faithful as possible to what the author wants to convey.
  • Unlike narrative text, in most cases no action is taking place.
  • It focuses on attributes that are essential to understand what is described, such as colors, emotions, physical features, functionalities (when it comes to objects), etc.
  • The attributes or characteristics are usually listed.

Descriptive text example

The suspect has been described as a tall man, approximately 1.90 meters tall. Very white skin, marked and greenish veins, with a circular mole on the left cheek and a slight tremor in the right hand.

Argumentative texts

They are a type of text that express a point of view on a particular fact and try to appeal to the reader to support this opinion. They are based on a central idea or argument that unfolds throughout the text to make it more understandable.

The argumentative texts have the following characteristics:

  • They are coherent: they keep the reader’s attention around a specific idea, explained in an orderly way.
  • They are usually written in the first person singular.
  • The argument can be in favor of the central idea or against it.
  • They can use resources such as quotes, verifiable facts, or examples to reinforce the argument.

Example of argumentative text

“The crisis that has hit the economy since April last year is largely responsible for the escalation in poverty rates in the last two years. Agustín Salvia, director of the Observatory of Social Debt of the Argentine Catholic University (UCA), says that the new poor are middle class with lower purchasing power, hit by high inflation and job scarcity. “

Excerpt from the article “What to do to reduce structural poverty in Argentina”, by Iván Weissman, published at www.redaccion.com.ar in October 2019.

Expository texts

They are a type of text in which a series of ideas related to an informative purpose are exposed or shown. Expository texts can be the basis for an oral discourse or for the presentation of concepts in a specialized field.

The expository texts stand out because:

  • They serve to communicate ideas in a pedagogical way.
  • They use technical or specialized language.
  • They are usually structured in short and specific sentences so that the concept is easier to understand.

Example of expository text:

The tea comes from a plant called Camellia sinensis. After harvest, Camellia sinensis leaves go through different processes (wilting, drying, oxidation, fixation, etc.) to obtain green, white, black, Oolong or post-fermented tea.

Instructional or directive texts

They are texts that give precise indications to carry out an action. Their content is usually very specific and they use very simple language so that the instructions can be understood by as many people as possible.

Some characteristics of the instructional texts are:

  • The information has some kind of hierarchy (steps, sequences, enumerated list, etc).
  • They usually use graphic resources to make the instructions even more understandable (infographics, photos, graphs, diagrams, etc.)
  • The content is very concrete. It only focuses on the actions to follow and does not touch other related topics.
  • They usually describe the materials or requirements necessary to carry out the task.

Instructional text example

How to use the floor cleaner:

  1. Wear gloves to avoid direct contact with the product.
  2. Open the container and use one measure of cleaner for every liter of water.
  3. Dampen the floor mop in the mixture.
  4. After cleaning, wipe with a new floor mop dampened with only water.

normative texts

It is any communication that contains rules or guidelines that must be followed in a given context. The normative texts are important in the social order, since it is expected that what is proposed there will be complied with or sanctioned in the event that it is not respected, such as laws and legal agreements.

For this reason, legal texts are one of the best known and most relevant types of normative texts.

These are characteristic aspects of normative texts:

  • They are created to record rules, laws or agreements.
  • Normative texts of a legal nature must be created by lawyers, judges or legislators and have legal validity.
  • They must include not only the norm, but the sanction.

Normative text example

“To the provider that does not comply with its legal or contractual obligations with the consumer, at the request of the injured party, the judge may apply a civil fine in favor of the consumer, which will be graduated depending on the seriousness of the fact and other circumstances of the case, regardless of other corresponding compensation (…). “

Article 52 of the Argentine Consumer Defense Law.

informative texts

They are a type of text whose function is to inform about the objective reality, be it local, national or global, that is relevant to public opinion or that requires to be understood by a specific group of people.

Informative texts tell stories and real events and start from a main idea that is ranked from the most important to the least relevant.

Although informational texts are often confused with journalistic texts, the latter are only one type of informational text.

The informative texts have the following characteristics:

  • They are objective: the emotions or points of view of the author are not shown in the text, since the central axis is the fact of which you want to report.
  • They have a hierarchical structure: the most relevant information usually goes to the beginning of the text, then data of interest follows that helps to recreate the context and ends with the less relevant information.
  • They are concise: the information is expressed in a specific language adapted to the subject it deals with.
  • They are of a general nature: although it deals with a specific topic, the idea is that anyone can understand them.

Informational text example

“Covid-19: Compound that blocks coronavirus access to cells identified

Researchers at the University of Geneva detected a group of compounds from the “sulfhydryl” family, capable of inhibiting the SARS-CoV-2 virus five thousand times more than other elements. “

Fragment of a news item published in the Mexican newspaper El Universal, in November 2020.

persuasive texts

They are a type of text whose function is to persuade or induce a change of opinion or behavior in the reader in the face of a certain event. For this reason they are often confused with advertising texts, but while all advertising text is persuasive, not all persuasive text has an advertising purpose, such as opinion pieces or political propaganda.

These are some characteristics of persuasive texts:

  • They can resort to rational appeal (using argumentation). For example, using scientific data.
  • They can resort to subjective appeal (using emotions). For example, associating the main idea with a feeling.
  • The paragraphs are usually short, with simple sentences.
  • In many cases they use graphic or multimedia elements to reinforce the main idea (photos, videos, memes, gifs, etc.).

Persuasive text example

In the United States, cigarette smoking causes between 80% and 90% of lung cancer deaths.

One less cigarette is one more breath of life to enjoy with those who love you.

Non-literary texts

They are specialized texts in an area of ​​knowledge and may have an informative, informative, persuasive or normative purpose. Non-literary texts are characterized by their objectivity and by using concise language. They are classified in

Scientific or academic texts

They show the result of a scientific or academic research both to the specialized public and to the general population. In this type of text, the applied methodologies, findings and conclusions generated by the research are collected and are used in both natural and social sciences.

Scientific texts have the following characteristics:

  • They require the use of technical language, according to the scope of research addressed.
  • The content of the text must be clear, that is, it must be understood by the target audience.
  • They require the evaluation of a committee of specialists from the investigated area.
  • It must show objective and verifiable data.
  • They contain references to research sources.

Scientific text example

“(…) People who exercised had 1.49 (43 · 2%) fewer days of poor mental health in the last month than people who did not exercise, but who otherwise had different physical and sociodemographic characteristics ( W = 7 · 42 × 10 10, p <2 · 2 × 10 -16). All types of exercise were associated with a lower mental health burden (minimum reduction of 11.8% and maximum reduction of 22.3%) than no exercise (p <2 × 2 × 10-16 for all types of exercise)”.

Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1 · 2 million people in the US between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study, by Sammi R Chekroud, Ralitza Gueorguieva, Amanda B Zheutlin, Martin Paulus, Harlan M Krumholz, John H Krystal, et al., In The Lancet Psychiatry (August 2018).

Advertising texts

They are a type of text that is intended to show the characteristics or values ​​of a product, event or company. This type of text has a commercial orientation, since they are designed to promote the consumption of a good or service. For this reason, advertising texts are loaded with persuasive resources, such as appealing to the consumer to begin to have a favorable opinion of what you want to sell.

The advertising texts stand out for being:

  • Brief: they usually present ideas in a concrete way so that they are easier to remember.
  • Creative – These are often filled with associations of unusual ideas to generate public impact.
  • Niche: advertising texts are aimed at a particular group of people to whom you want to sell the product. Therefore, the messages are designed to be related to that specific audience.
  • Strategic: each piece or text is part of an advertising campaign, which engages the values ​​of the brand, the characteristics of the product, its benefits, etc.

Example of ad copy

“The detergent that cleans your clothes and takes care of your hands, now in a liquid version. Higher performance, more cleaning “

Humanistic texts

This type of non-literary text is characterized by having a pedagogical objective, since its purpose is to disseminate knowledge related to the area of ​​Humanities (Letters, Literature, Ethics, Anthropology, Sociology, Arts, etc.). It uses argumentation and exposition as the main resources for the transmission of ideas.

Among the main characteristics of humanistic texts are:

  • Although they deal with academic topics, they are not always objective, but rather are reflections or interpretations of the authors.
  • They use technicalities typical of the area of ​​knowledge dealt with.
  • They tend to stimulate reflection and critical thinking.
  • The author’s conclusions are often subject to debate or controversy, given their subjective nature.

Humanistic text example :

“Freedom is being able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’; I do it or I don’t do it, whatever my bosses or others say; this is good for me and I want it, that is not good for me and therefore I do not want it. Freedom is decide, but also, don’t forget, realize that you are deciding. The opposite of letting yourself go, as you can understand. And in order not to let yourself go, you have no choice but to try to think at least twice what you are going to do; yes , twice, I’m sorry, even if your head hurts … “

Fragment of Ethics for Amador, by Fernando Savater.

Literary texts

They are real or fictional pieces of a subjective nature, that is, they express the inner world of their author. To do this, they use literary devices such as metaphor, hyperbole, comparison, etc.

Literary texts are also characterized by using a sophisticated, poetic language and fulfilling an aesthetic function. This means that your goal is to recreate beauty through words. They can be of three types:

Narrative literary texts

In this type of text, a narrator tells the development of the events and describes the actions of the characters within a structure that has a beginning, a climax and an end. Said narrator can be omniscient, protagonist or witness of the events.

Narrative texts are characterized by:

  • Be subjective: the author expresses his vision and emotions freely.
  • Be fictitious, real or based on real events.
  • Be credible: even if a literary text is about a fanciful fact, it must be written in such a way that it is credible to the reader.
  • Develop in a defined space and times.

Narrative text example

“In a place in La Mancha, whose name I do not want to remember, not long ago lived a nobleman of the spear in the shipyard, old shield, skinny nag and running greyhound …”

Don Quixote de La Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes.

Lyrical texts

They are texts of a literary nature in which the ideas are charged with emotionality, with a very careful and rich language. For this reason, the use of literary figures (metaphor, comparison, hyperbole) is common.

The main characteristics of lyrical texts are:

  • They express feelings, either from the point of view of the author or his characters.
  • They have a strong aesthetic component, expressed not only in the content of the text, but in its form (number of verses or number of syllables in each verse, use of rhymes, etc.).
  • They can be written in verse or prose.

Lyrical text example

Let each word carry what it says.
Let it be like the trembling that sustains it.
To remain like a heartbeat.

Rafael Cadenas, Ars poetic

Dramatic texts

In this case, the story is told through dialogue and the events are divided into acts or scenes. Dramatic texts are the basis of theater and its different genres, such as tragedy, comedy or farce. The stories can be fictional or real.

Dramatic texts have several characteristic aspects:

  • The action is carried out by one or more characters.
  • Each act or scene has its own structure of beginning, climax and ending and in turn form part of a general structure.
  • They can include annotations, which are notes in the margin with which the author leaves instructions for the actors.

Dramatic text example

The teacher— How many are one and one?

The student – One and one are two.

The teacher (admired by the student’s wisdom): – Oh, very good! She seems to me to be very advanced in her studies. You will easily get your full doctorate, miss.

The student— I celebrate it, all the more because you are the one who says it

Eugene Ionesco, The Lesson

Digital texts

These texts refer to the support used for their creation and dissemination, since a digital device (computer, mobile phone) is needed both to prepare them and for users to access it.

Digital texts can be of two types:


Refers to all documents that were created using a word processor, such as Word, Google docs. Texts that have been digitized also fall into this category, such as when we scan a document to convert it to pdf format.

Characteristics of unimodal digital texts:

  • They are the same as a printed text, what varies is that its format is digital.
  • They do not always require the internet for their creation or dissemination. For example, we can create a digital text on the computer or phone without having a connection or data.
  • In some cases, unimodal texts are just digital versions of existing texts.

Unimodal text example :


They are a type of digital text that, in addition to written content, include resources such as audio, video, animations, graphics, gifs, etc. Multimodal texts are, in turn, sub-classified into three types:

Multimedia : these are texts that include written content, images and / or video. Usually, this combination of resources is intended to reinforce the message of the text.

Hypertext : it is a text unit designed specifically for the web and which in turn is part of a larger unit, such as a blog within a web page. It may or may not contain multimedia resources.

Intertext : these are texts that allow interaction with the user, either because they can comment on the content or because they can generate their own content.

Multimodal digital texts have the following characteristics:

  • They combine communication resources: speech (oral or written), gestures, movement, sound.
  • They are bidirectional: their objective is the feedback ( feedback ) or participation of the user.
  • They require an internet connection so that feedback can be given .

Examples of multimodal texts:

See also:

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