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What is a Text Feature?


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What is a Text Feature?

Basics on the topic What is a Text Feature?

What are Text Features?

You have probably noticed that most texts and books have some things in common. But what exactly are these text features? And how do they help the readers understand the text better? Let’s find out what text features are in a book, and how text features are used with this text!

Text Features – Definition

We usually read nonfiction texts to learn new information or interesting facts. To make it easier to navigate through the text, we use text features.

Text features are parts of the text that organize and show important information.

We can find text features in nonfiction books, as well as in fiction. In this article, we will focus on nonfiction text features practice and learn how to identify and understand informational text features.

Text Features – Overview

There are many different types of text features. Three common text features that can be found in a nonfiction text are table of contents, headings, and captions. Let’s take a look at some of these text features’ examples with the help of a book about narwhals.

The table of contents can be found at the beginning of the book. It includes a list of chapters or topics that are in the book.


To find the page with the chapter or topic that you are interested in, you need to look at the number next to the name of the chapter or the topic. For example, to read about narwhals' habitat, you need to flip to page 4.

The heading is a word or a short phrase that can be found above the rest of the text. It tells the reader what the text below is about.


This chapter is called A Horn-Like Tooth. The heading helps us understand that this chapter is about the narwhal’s horn (that is actually a tooth!).

The caption is a short explanation that can be found close to a picture. It can be above, below, next to, or even on a picture. It helps us understand what exactly the picture shows us.


The caption here says The toothy tusk can grow up to 9 feet! It explains how long the narwhal’s tusk can grow.

Other Text Features – Overview

Some text features related to the text structure are introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

  • An introduction is the first paragraph or two of a nonfiction text, that introduces the topic and the main idea.
  • Body paragraphs provide details that support the main idea.
  • A conclusion provides a brief summary and concludes the text.

Some text features related to the language are tone, style, word choice, and figurative language.

  • Tone is an attitude of an author towards the topic. In a nonfiction text, the tone is usually neutral, objective, and formal.
  • Style is a manner in which the author expresses their ideas. In a nonfiction text, the style is usually clear and concise.
  • Word choice is a careful selection of words by the author to convey proper meaning. In a nonfiction text, the word choice is formal, and can involve terminology specific to a topic.
  • Figurative language includes words and phrases that convey the idea different from their literal meaning. Figurative language includes similes, metaphors, hyperboles, personification, etc. It is rarely used in nonfiction texts and is more characteristic to function.

Text Features – Summary

Let’s review what we have learned about the text features.

Text features are parts of the text that organize and show important information. They can be found in both fiction and nonfiction texts.

Three common text features that can be found in a nonfiction text are table of contents, headings, and captions.

Feature Description
Table of Contents Is always at the beginning of the book
Includes a list of chapters or topics that are in the book
Helps us find the page with the corresponding topic
Headings Are found above the rest of the text on the page
Words or short phrases
Help us understand what the text below is about
Captions Are found above, below, next to, or on the picture
Provide an explanation of what the picture shows us

Now you know what text features are in reading and can identify them. For more practice, check out our video, exercises, and a text features worksheet.

Frequently Asked Questions about Text Features

What is a text feature?
Why are text features important?
What are the different types of text features?

Transcript What is a Text Feature?

: "Hey Pearl, what are you looking at?" : "Oh, just reading about narwahls (...) I wish I could meet one in real life!" : "If they existed that would be so cool!" : "What do you mean? Narwahls ARE real." : "Huh? No, they aren't!" : "Yes, they are! Here, I'll show you all about them!" Pearl is trying to convince Otis that Narwahls exist. She can use text features to give him key information and facts about these cool sea creatures. What are text features? Non-fiction texts have features, or parts, that show important information next to the words in the text. Remember, non-fiction texts are ones that tell you facts and information. There are lots of different kinds of text features! Today we will learn about three different types of text features... table of contents (...) headings (...) and captions! : "This is my favorite book about Narwhals, it has so much information!" : "Where do you want to start?" : "What's all this?" : "This is the table of contents, it's always at the beginning of a book!" : "It's a list of topics or chapters that are in the book (...) and if you look at the number next to the topic, you can find what page it starts in the book!" : "Wow, I never knew that!" : "Hm, okay, let's start with basic facts on page six." : "Woah, that's a lot of information!" : "It's the heading and basic facts." : "Heading? What do you mean?" : "Look here, this is the heading, one of the text features." : "It's a short phrase that's usually above the rest of the text." : "It tells us, readers, what the part below is about." : "It says ten basic facts about narwhals." : "And look, here are the ten facts!" : "What about that, under the picture?" : "I almost forgot!" : "That's the caption, it's a short explanation that sometimes appears with pictures." : "When you see it next to, above, below, or sometimes even ON a picture, it gives you details about the picture." : "Narwhals change color as they get older, oh, cool!" : "That's one of my favorite facts." : "Pearl, can we read more about narwhals?" : "Sure! Let's take a look at the table of contents again." : "That's where it tells us which pages different topics start, right?" : "It sure is, what do you want to look at next?" : "I wanna see 'a horn-like tooth' on page ten!" : "This is the heading, right?" : "A horn-like tooth' yep! That's the heading." : "So, this page is all about the horn?" : "That's right!" : "Otis, look at the picture!" : "Wow, that's a big horn, I mean, tooth!" : "Did you see the caption?" : "It says it can be up to nine feet long!" : "Wow, that's pretty big!" : "Well, what do you say, Otis? Are you convinced that narwhals exist now?" : [sigh like he's giving up] "Okay, I guess narwhals COULD BE real sea creatures." : "D-did you see that?" : "Narwahls ARE real."


What is a Text Feature? exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video What is a Text Feature?.
  • Find the text features.


    Look at the pictures. Can you find the sentences that describe the photos?

    Remember: captions describe photos.

    Highlight these in green.

    Headings are found above the rest of the text and are usually in bold font.


    Captions describe photos. Headings are short phrases that tell you about the text below.

    • "Facts about polar bears" is a heading. Below it are three polar bear facts.
    • "Polar bears swim in super cold water!" is a caption. It is next to an image of icy cold water.
    • "Where do polar bears live?" is a heading. Below it is information about polar bear habitats. It is bigger than the rest of the text to show that it is a new section.
    • "Sharp claws help polar bears dig in the ice." is a caption. It is above the photo of a bear paw. It explains why polar bears have sharp claws.
  • Using the contents page.


    A habitat is where an animal likes to live in the wild.

    You can find the page number by following the dotted line to the right of the topic.


    To learn where narwals live, Otis should read the list of topics in the Table of Contents.

    The word "habitat" is another way to say where animals live in nature.

    The page number is always found next to the topic on a table of contents. Just move your finger along the dotted line.

    So, information about where narwahls live is on page 4!

  • What are text features?


    The table of contents tells you where you can find all the sections of the book.

    Captions are usually found near an image.


    Here's what you know about text features:

    The table of contents is a list of topics in the book with page numbers. It's always at the beginning of the book!

    The captions are always right next to, below, above, or on top of a picture. They tell you more about the picture.

    The headings sort the text into smaller parts. They come above the text and describe what comes next.

    The text features are the parts of the text that organize key information. Headings, captions and the table of contents are all examples of text features.

  • Use the text features to find out what Pearl's new book is about.


    Look at the text features for clues!

    Find and read the headings.

    Find and read the caption.

    These are all the text features. Read them and tell which animal they are about.


    Text features like headings and captions can tell you what the text is about.

    First, find the headings. They are highlighted in red. Next, find the captions. They are highlighted in green.

    • The heading "How to keep paws clean and tails wagging" tells you that we are talking about pets, not wild animals. The answer is not about wolves.
    • The heading "Care instructions" gives you another clue. It tells you how to take care of a pet, not how to teach them tricks! So we can eliminate How dogs learn tricks.
    • The picture shows a wagging tail. It looks like a dog. Read the caption to check. The caption says "A tail wag means you have a very happy pup!". We can eliminate Pet cats.
    • What did you learn from the text features? You learned that this book tells you How to take care of dogs.
  • Identify the text feature.


    Look at where each of the features are on the page. What is nearby? Can a picture or detail in the text give you a clue?

    Remember that headings are usually above the text. They tell you about the text below.


    The table of contents is found on the first page. It's a chart telling you the topics in the book and their page numbers.

    The heading is the text in bold that says "Ten Basic Facts About Narwhals". Below the heading are the ten basic facts!

    The caption is the text underneath the picture of the three narwhals. It explains why the three narwhals are different colors!

  • Using a Table of Contents.


    Read the table of contents.

    The list on the left tells you the chapters in the book. If you move your finger along the dotted line, you will find the page number for that topic.

    To find the recipe, find the topic about making jellybeans. Which page number is it on?

    Next, let's find the history of jellybeans.

    Read the topics in the table of contents again.

    Which topic will tell you about the FIRST jellybeans ever made?

    Move your finger along the dotted line to find the correct page number.


    The recipe will be in the chapter called "How to make a red jellybean". That's on page 5.

    Otis can learn about different types of jellybeans in the chapter called "Flavors and Colors". That's on page 9.

    The history of jellybeans is in the chapter called "The Invention of the Jellybean". This will tell him the story of how the FIRST jellybean was made. It's on page 12.

    Information about where jellybeans are made is on page 15. It's in the chapter called "Jellybean Factories".