What is a text?

A text is a use of language that communicates meanings and attitudes about a topic to another person - in order to make something happen.

Every text type creates effects and has purposes. Some texts are fictional, such as fairy-tales or novels: these text types aim to communicate a story to a reader to entertain (and perhaps also to persuade).

A play-script is a text created to allow actors to read it; and a poem is a text intended to communicate a poem’s feelings and to delight its reader (and perhaps also to persuade).

Articles in magazines, magazine covers, leaflets or advertisements (including moving images on TV) are also all referred to as ‘texts’. All of these are texts because they communicate to a reader and make something happen.

Fiction or non-fiction

All text types are either non-fiction or fiction. Non-fiction is writing based on reality and is, therefore, fact-based. This is the type of writing that you will read in newspapers or articles. Some non-fiction writing can be exaggerated so that the facts are not always represented objectively and truthfully. This can bring non-fiction closer to fiction.

Fiction originates in a person’s imagination - it is made up. Texts such as story-books and many poems are fiction - although they may be based on actual events and use real-sounding places and names to create a sense of realism that story-readers like.

Text messages

Think about the different types of messages you use. If you send a message using social media or by using an app, you are communicating to your friends or followers to share some form of information or perhaps to give your attitude about a topic. The information can be about anything relevant to you and your friends and followers - you are simply communicating but doing so for a reason.

Sometimes, when you send a text message, it might only be a picture or an emoticon but your receiver will read it and it will mean something to them. It will communicate meaning as well as feeling.

A phone messenger service showing a conversation between two friends. The messages feature a mixture of pictures and words to communicate about a holiday to FranceIn this conversation, both images and words are being used to communicate meaning and feeling.

Character limits

Many social media sites and apps have very short character limits, so text language in the form of abbreviations and emoticons is often used.

C u l8er m8. Gonna b at urs 4 bout 6 tonite :)

It isn’t written in the formal, traditional style that you would use for school but it still communicates meaningfully to the reader.