What is an instructional text?
An instructional text is a text that presents the reader with instructions on how to assemble an article, perform an experiment, build an artifact, organize a game or any other type of process that involves following specific instructions to achieve it. It is often a type of text that is related to the children’s environment, although it is certainly of social circulation to a greater extent.
In other words, we are talking about a text in which the purpose is to provide a teaching through a series of indications to the receiver or reader, who learns how to carry out a certain activity or process. Since it can be aimed at a very wide audience, it is crucial that it uses the simplest, clearest and most precise language possible.
Main characteristics of an instructional text
It is time to review the most important features of this type of text in order to distinguish it from other formats and non-literary texts. Thus, we find the following aspects:
Purpose of the instructional text
First of all, we have that the purpose of this type of text is to direct the actions taken by the reader, so that it gradually indicates a series of steps to be followed, previously indicating the materials or elements necessary to fulfill it. In this sense, the instructive text guides the procedure in a precise, clear and detailed way in order to organize a process, make a dish or recipe, assemble an artifact, follow a route for a displacement, among other possible processes.
Form of writing
One of the most important features of this type of texts is related to the way in which this type of texts are written, since they are often constructed addressed to a second grammatical person, in addition to the use of the verb in imperative mode. In this way, indications will appear in the fragments such as: deal the cards…, mix all the ingredients, etc. In addition to this, the verbs are accompanied by adverb constructions that indicate how to perform each of the actions, for example: cut along the marked line, etc.
The instructional text is also a didactic text based on the clarity of the information it presents. Since its objective is to allow the reader to understand the indications given, it is oriented to apply the knowledge he has read without the assistance or support of another person. This is where it acquires its didactic value.
Elements of instructional texts
The instructive text is generally divided into two parts, which subsequently form its own structure, although it should be considered that the extension and number of elements may vary according to the topic or activity on which they are developed. In general, the elements into which it is divided, are:
List of elements
In this first part, as we mentioned, we find the list of ingredients, if it is a recipe, parts, materials or elements that are indispensable for the development of the process or the assembly of the article or artifact on which it is based. It is also possible that this first part includes the instructions or rules of a game. These elements, ingredients or materials can be divided by numerals, artistic, etc.
Development of the instructions
The second division corresponds to the development of the indications or instructions, which are organized from sentences that are oriented to a second person or to a particular receiver. Thus, the way in which it is written should be indicating step by step how to carry out the process, preparation or assembly, according to what is being indicated.
Structure of the instructive text
Now, after having seen the previous information, we will go on to describe a generalized structure that this type of text can use for its construction. Let’s see:
In order to provide all the necessary information from the beginning, the reader must find the title to identify the exercise or activity on which the subsequent indications or instructions are going to be developed.
Although this is not a mandatory element, when it is used, generally the author tries to construct a brief introduction in which he/she clearly indicates the activity on which the instructions are based. It is a way to expand on the information contained in the title so that the reader can better understand the directions and their purpose.
As we know, this is one of the broadest and most diverse areas, given that it depends fundamentally on the activity to be developed. In this way, we will point out, in the form of a number or mention, each of the materials necessary for the process or the ingredients that must be available for the development or realization of the activity.
Development of the instructions
In this section the author begins to explain each of the sequences that are part of the preparation of the recipe or the procedure that follows the instructions. In this way, he/she indicates the way in which the process is going to be carried out following a detailed linearity of the process that is explained in a clear and precise way.
Finally, some instructional texts may or may not include an image. Although these images do not necessarily show the entire process, they may indicate key moments where the reader may encounter difficulties or require first-hand illustration if the process is more complex, thus improving the reader’s experience when performing the activity.
Elements to elaborate an instructive text
Now that we know what a text like this should include, we will see below the basic aspects that we must consider when preparing it, a series of elements that cannot be missing in the process and that must be in accordance with the objective of this type of writing:
Organization of the information
This type of texts can be very delicate, especially if we consider the objective they seek to achieve. That is why it is necessary to follow a previous planning of the information in which the main scheme to be followed is proposed and in this sense, before developing the information, to have clarity on the steps that follow the other to organize them in the best possible way.
Numbering or visible division
Although the structure of the instructive text may vary, it is recommended that the author in his development of the information, try to use distinction and if possible, numbering of the steps from chronological connectors that give continuity to each of the data that are indicated for the final resolution. This follow-up makes it possible to offer concrete information that is developed progressively and that is easier for the reader or the addressee to follow.
Use of terms
It is recommended that in the step-by-step the author uses varied terms that avoid repetition of words that cause confusion to the reader. In addition to this, it is necessary that in each of the steps the verb should be in the infinitive, and the text should be written in the third person.
Revision of the text
Once you have finished writing, it is time to revise it. This review involves an objective observation in which we can identify possible shortcomings in terms of spelling and connection between the instructions provided, as it is a first look at the text.
Put it to the test
Another effective way of verifying that the information is easily understandable, as well as following the steps, is to test it directly by presenting it to other people. In this way we can confirm whether the information and steps are clear, and possibly receive suggestions for elaboration in a way that seeks to clarify each section.
To learn more about the structure, elements and in general, other types of non-literary text, remember that in our section you can access all of them and continue learning, in addition to other fields around the literary world in which you will find much more information.