Types of non-fiction texts (2)

Instruction texts

Instruction texts are all around us and are extremely useful. They explain how to do something and include food recipes, directions and instruction manuals.

Below is an extract from a type of instruction text - a food recipe:

Cake on table with ingredients

Sponge cake

Ingredients:

  • 100 g/4 oz butter
  • 100 g/4 oz sugar
  • 100 g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • a little water

First, place the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or electric mixer to beat them together until the mixture is smooth and light. Add the eggs and carefully beat them into the sugar and butter mixture...

Here are some clues to help you recognise an instruction text:

  • it instructs the reader, giving clear guidance about how to do something
  • it will be ordered using a practical sequence or structure
  • it can use imperative verbs that imply the subject ‘you’ and thus state directly what is to be done, for example "make", "add" and "stick"
  • it can use bullet points, sub-headings, pictures and diagrams, to make the information clearer

Explanation texts

Explanation texts have a lot in common with information texts. They both explain things in more detail. Many textbooks and reference books are explanation texts.

Again, texts are often multi-purpose so be on the lookout for this.

Below is an example of an explanation text but you will see that it is similar to an instructional text:

Choose which option you want and press the corresponding button. You will then be presented with a further list of options. These will enable you to configure your computer's memory in the most efficient way.

You can usually recognise an explanation text because:

  • it explains a subject and helps you to understand it more; often giving more detail than an instructional text
  • it always uses the present tense
  • it uses a formal tone and is impersonal
  • it may use diagrams, bullets, sub-headings, pictures, maps and photographs