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Informational Text Structures

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Informational Text Structures
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Basics on the topic Informational Text Structures

Learn about types of text structures in informational texts through a video, activities, and worksheets!

Informational Text Structures – Introduction

Informational texts are nonfictional texts that help the reader learn about a specific topic. We often refer to informational texts when doing research. They can include textbooks, history books, science books, autobiographies, and technical texts.

To make it easier for readers to find relevant information, informational texts are organized in a specific way. What are some typical informational text structures? The most common structures are chronological order, description, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution.

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To determine text structure, we can look for signal words that help organize the writing.

Informational Text Structures – Examples

Let’s have a look at the examples of five informational text structures and find relevant signal words.

Chronological Order

Using a chronological order describe a sequence of events. A chronological order organizes information by dates and uses such signal words as first, next, finally, or any other words or phrases that show that time has passed. Take a look at the example:

On July 16, 1969, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the Apollo 11 mission, aiming to land the first humans on the moon. In four days, three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, successfully landed on the moon and became the first people to set foot on its surface. After several hours, the astronauts returned to Earth, safely landing in the Pacific Ocean and marking a new chapter in space exploration.

In this text, the author uses dates and time phrases such as ”July 16, 1969”, ”in four days”, and ”after several hours” to organize the text in a chronological order.

Description

Authors use descriptions to help create an image in the readers’ mind. In order to do this, they use a lot of descriptive adjectives, examples, features, and signal words like such as, for instance, or for example. Let’s have look at an example paragraph:

The Great Pyramid of Giza, the largest of the Egyptian pyramids, stands at an impressive height of 481 feet. Built of limestone and granite, this magnificent construction represents the cultural importance of an ancient Egyptian civilization.

This paragraph describes such features of the Great Pyramid of Giza as height and materials it was built of. It also uses descriptive words like ”impressive” and ”magnificent”. These words help build an image of what the Great Pyramid of Giza looks like.

Compare and Contrast

Comparing and contrasting in texts means the author describes the similarities and differences of a topic. They do it through signal words as same, alike, on the other hand, instead. For example:

Even though both spiders and insects look alike, there are noticeable differences between these species. Spiders have eight legs and two body segments, and are generally carnivorous. Insects, on the other hand, have six legs and three body segments. They also display a wider range of feeding habits, from herbivores to decomposers.

In this text, the phrase ”on the other hand” contrasts the differences between spiders and insects, while the word alike highlights their similarities.

Cause and Effect

Cause and effect is a method of showing relations between events. It is used when the author wants to show how one event leads to another. They use signal words such as causing, since, as a result, therefore and due to. Take a look at the example:

Global warming, driven by various human activities such as deforestation and fossil fuels burning, caused irreversible environmental problems. Due to the rise of sea level and changes in weather patterns, multiple ecosystems are now in danger and some species are on a brink of extinction.

In this text, the author states that global warming leads to environmental problems, using such words and phrases as ”caused” and ”due to”.

Problem and Solution

By showing problems and their possible solutions in texts, authors convey problems related to the topic and describe their possible solutions. The signal words may include words like issue, question, problem, or solve. For example:

A common issue in some schools is the lack of emphasis on the importance of recycling. To solve this problem, schools can implement new educational programs, place more recycling bins on their territory, and organize recycling contests. These activities will help students to be more aware and engaged in recycling.

This paragraph describes the problem of a lack of recycling in schools and offers several possible solutions using such signal words as ”issue” and ”solve”.

Informational Text Structures – Summary

Let’s review what we have learned about informational text structures.

Informational texts are nonfiction texts that help the reader learn about a specific topic. The most common structures of informational texts are chronological order, description, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution. To identify text structures, we look for signal words that help organize the writing. To better remember relevant signal words, check out the informational text structures anchor chart:

Text Structure Explanation Signal Words
Chronological Order Dates, time phrases First, next, finally
Description Examples, features Such as, for instance, for example
Compare and Contrast Similarities and/or differences Same, alike, on the other hand, instead
Cause and Effect One event leading to another Causing, since, as a result, due to
Problem and Solution Problems and possible solutions Issue, question, problem, solve

Now you know everything about different types of text structures for an informational text. For more practice, check out our video, activities, and informational text structures worksheets.

Frequently Asked Questions about Informational Text Structures

What are informational texts?
What are the 5 informational text structures?
How to identify text structures in an informational text for ELA?
How can I effectively use chronological order in my writing?
What is the purpose of using cause and effect text structure?
How can I create engaging compare and contrast texts?

Transcript Informational Text Structures

ship, the Titanic, that sank many years ago!" "Interesting! " "Let's do some research." Informational texts are structured in a certain way depending on the type of information being given. The structures are,chronological order; (...) description; (...) compare and contrast,(...) cause and effect; (...) problem and solution. To determine text structure, we look for signal words that help organize the writing. Let's look at an example of each text structure. Chronological order means the sequence of events. Chronological order organizes information by dates or may use signal words such as "first," "next, or any phrase that shows time has passed. On April 10, 1912, the Titanic left England and set out for America. Four days into the cruise, a lookout saw an iceberg and warned of danger. The ship struck it, causing damage. As it sank, people scrambled to escape. At 2:30 am on April 15th, the Titanic broke into two parts and slipped into the water. In 1985, the wreckage was found, and years later, in 1997, the famous movie, Titanic, was made. In this text, we see dates (...) and phrases like 'four days' and 'years later." This next article is written as a description, where the author wants to create an image in your mind. We can identify this structure by looking for examples, features, and signal words like, 'such as' and 'for instance'. The Titanic was built to be the world's largest, most luxurious cruise liner. The ship was just over eight hundred eighty-two feet in length and one hundred four feet tall. Titanic had ten decks and carried about two thousand, two hundred, and twenty-four passengers and crew members. Here, it describes the size of the ship (...) and uses words like "largest and "most luxurious." These words help build an image of what Titanic looked like. In a compare and contrast structure, the author illustrates the similarities and/or differences of a topic. We look for signal words such as same, alike, on the other hand, or instead. Titanic carried passengers from all walks of life. They were divided up depending on the price of their tickets. The first-class passengers were wealthy businessmen and politicians. On the other hand, the third-class passengers were made up of poor immigrants looking for a better life. Do you see a signal word? (...) The phrase "on the other hand" contrasts the differences between passengers. Cause and effect is used when the author wants to show how one event leads to another. Signal words may include, since, as a result, and due to. Titanic hit an iceberg late at night, causing major damage. This damage resulted in the ship flooding and sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the lack of lifeboats and the confusion of the event, only seven hundred and ten people survived! Which signal words do you see here? (...) Causing(...) resulted(...) due to. An author can also convey problems related to a topic, and possible solutions. Signal words for this structure may include issue, question, or solve. The Titanic carried about two thousand, two hundred passengers. As it sank, the biggest issue became clear. The Titanic did not have enough lifeboats to take all the passengers. Another problem was during all of the chaos of the night, many of the lifeboats left before completely filled. The solution to making sure something like this does not happen again is now all ships are required to have enough lifeboats for all people aboard. What signal words do you see here? (...) Issue(...) problem(...) solution. While Otis and Pearl explore their ship, let's review. Remember... The informational text structures are(...) Chronological order, description, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution. To determine text structure, look for signal words that help organize the writing. "Fascinating! "Makes you wonder how our ship got here."

1 comment
1 comment
  1. good vid

    From Sydnie , over 1 year ago

Informational Text Structures exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Informational Text Structures .
  • Recognize types of informational text structures.

    Hints

    There are different types of information texts, they are used to communicate real and factual information to the reader.

    Which choices are NOT ways to share or present factual information? These choices are NOT informational text structures.

    Chronological order means to list events from earliest or first, to latest or last.

    There are 5 correct choices and 2 false ones.

    Solution

    INFORMATIONAL TEXT STRUCTURES:

    • Chronological order
    • Compare and contrast
    • Description
    • Cause and effect
    • Problem and solution
    NOT INFORMATIONAL TEXT STRUCTURES:
    • Poetry and fiction
    • Cartoons and jokes

  • Match the types to their definitions.

    Hints

    Compare means to look at how 2 or more things are the same. Contrast means looking at how 2 or more things are different.

    We use descriptions to help people visualize things they cannot see, touch, taste, feel, or hear.
    Example: Ice cream tastes sweet and feels very cold. It comes in a cup or a cone. You can eat it with a spoon or your tongue.

    Cause and effect is when one action influences and changes what comes afterward.

    Solution

    INFORMATIONAL TEXT STRUCTURES:

    • Chronological order is when the author organizes information by dates or times.
    • Description is when the author wants to create an image in your mind.
    • Compare and contrast is when the author illustrates similarities and differences on a topic.
    • Cause and effect is when the author shows how one event leads to another event.
    • Problem and solution is when the author defines problems related to a topic, and offers possible solutions for them.

  • Identify possible signal words in chronological order informational texts.

    Hints

    In a chronological order text the author organizes information by dates or time. Which words do you see that show the passing of time?

    There are 4 signal words for a chronological order text and 3 words that are not signal words.

    Solution

    These words are SIGNAL WORDS for a chronological order text because they show the passing of time:

    • First
    • Next
    • After
    • Finally

    These words are NOT SIGNAL WORDS for a chronological order text:

    • Clothes
    • Go
    • About

  • Find the signal words.

    Hints

    In a cause and effect text, the author shows how one event leads to another event. Where do you see words that link two events together? This is a signal word.

    There are 4 signal words for cause and effect texts, and 3 words that are NOT signal words.

    Solution

    The following words are signal words for a cause and effect text:

    • Due to
    • As a result
    • Since
    • Resulted in
    because they link two separate events together, and show how the first event creates the next.

    The words, next, never, and directly, do not indicate that one event is happening as a direct result of another, so they are not signal words for cause and effect.

  • Find the informational text structure using the key words.

    Hints

    One of the choices is not an informational text structure. Eliminate this option first.

    The types of informational text structures are:

    • Chronological order
    • Description
    • Compare and contrast
    • Cause and effect
    • Problem and solution

    There is only 1 correct choice.

    Solution

    A problem and solution informational text structure will use some or all of the keywords issue, solve, question, problem, and solution.

  • Identify the type of text and signal words.

    Hints

    The types of informational text structures are:

    • Chronological order
    • Description
    • Compare and contrast
    • Cause and effect
    • Problem and solution

    In this text, the author wants to create an image in your mind of what the drone looks like and how it moves and functions.

    First, decide what kind of text this is. Then choose keywords that support this type of text.

    Solution

    This text is a description text.

    We know this because of the signal words, compact-sized, centrally positioned, sleek silver, modern design, and four evenly placed, which gives us an image of what the drone looks like.