Purpose

Think ‘TAP’ when looking at a non-fiction text:

TAP is an acronym for - ‘text type, audience and purpose’ an easy way to remember what writers consider when writing.
  • text type
  • audience
  • purpose

A writer has an aim when writing a text - they want to have an effect on their reader.

A text can have many purposes. Some examples are to:

  • entertain – to amuse the reader or make them enjoy reading the text
  • persuade – to influence the viewpoint of the reader - these texts may be biased
  • advise – to help people decide what to do - these texts may give ideas and options
  • analyse – to break down something to help people to understand it better
  • argue – to make the case for something - these texts may be one-sided
  • describe – to give precise details about a person, place, object or experience
  • explain – to make clear ‘how’ and ‘why’ something works or happens in a certain way
  • inform – to tell a reader about something they don’t know, or add to their knowledge
  • instruct – to tell a reader how to do something, ordered step-by-step

Grid with theatre masks, handshake, call centre woman, woman with magnifying glass, friends debating, pen, woman with open hands, newspapers and driving instructor’s car depicting purposes of a text

Texts can have more than one purpose, eg a writer could entertain and inform, or they could inform and persuade the reader.

Some types of non-fiction text have a specific purpose. For example, travel writing describes a journey or a place, and can be intended to persuade. This purpose can be explicit - stated directly, eg “You must visit Florida!” or can be implicit - suggested but not said openly, eg “Florida is a wonderful place to visit!”

When you read a non-fiction text, you can tell its purpose by looking at:

  • Its content – who would be interested?
  • Its tone – is it serious or light-hearted?
  • Its structure – what are the order of events? Does the writer use headings, subheadings or pose questions to the reader?
  • Its language – is the language formal or informal?
Question

What purpose(s) do each of the following texts have?

  • a news article
  • a self-help book
  • a letter asking for a charity donation
  • an autobiography
  • a book review
  • travel writing
  • a news article - to inform but also to persuade, if the article is showing a particular opinion towards a topic, eg animal testing
  • a self-help book - to advise
  • a letter asking for a charity donation - to inform and persuade
  • an autobiography - to entertain and to inform
  • a book review - to analyse, inform, and advise
  • travel writing - to inform, persuade and entertain