Purpose

Think about TAP when looking at a non-fiction text:

  • Text type
  • Audience
  • Purpose
Grid with theatre masks, handshake, call centre woman, woman with magnifying glass, friends debating, pen, woman with open hands, newspapers and driving instructor’s car depicting purposes of a text

A text can have many purposes. Some examples are to:

  • entertain – to make the reader enjoy reading
  • persuade – to change a reader’s opinion
  • advise – to help people decide what to do
  • analyse – to break down something to help people to understand it better
  • argue – to make the case for something
  • describe – to give details about a person, place, event or thing
  • explain – to make clear why or how something works
  • inform – to tell a reader about something
  • instruct – to tell a reader how to do something

Some types of non-fiction text are linked to specific purposes. For example, advertising is intended to persuade you to buy something.

To work out what the purpose of the text is, it’s useful to think about what the writer’s attitude was at the time of writing. Looking at any contextual information – like where it’s from – will also help.

Question

What purpose do each of the following texts have?

  • a news article
  • a self-help book
  • a letter asking for a charity donation
  • an autobiography
  • a book review
  • a news article: to inform but also to persuade, if the article is showing a particular opinion towards a topic, eg animal testing
  • a self-help book: to advise
  • a letter asking for a charity donation: to persuade
  • an autobiography: to entertain and to inform
  • a book review: to analyse, inform, and advise

The purpose of a text will also affect what the content is, how it’s structured, what techniques are used, and what words are used. But purpose is not the only thing that affects this; the particular target audience is also important.