How to compare non-fiction texts

  • A non-fiction text is based on real-life events and issues and often contains facts and information, for example, news articles and blogs.
  • Comparing non-fiction involves focusing on similarities and differences.
  • Comparing could focus on form, purpose, language choices and structure.
Identical twins reading identical books
Comparing and contrasting involves finding similarities and differences

What is non-fiction?

A text is a piece of writing. A text can be labelled as either fiction or non-fiction. Fiction texts are usually based on the writer’s imagination. Novels, short stories, plays, film scripts and poetry are all examples of fiction texts. Non-fiction texts are based on facts and the real world and may include:

  • news articles
  • magazine articles
  • blogs
  • speeches
  • letters
  • diaries
  • biographies
  • adverts
Boy reading newspaper
A news article is an example of a non-fiction text

Focusing on similarities and differences

Comparing non-fiction can focus on the similarities between the texts - things they have in common. You can also contrast texts and focus on their differences - things that set the texts apart from each other. You could compare and contrast the following:

  • form - what types of text - letter, news report, etc. - are they?
  • purpose - what job - persuading, informing, advertising - is each text doing?
  • subject matter - what are the texts about?
  • language choices - what kinds of words, images or rhetorical devices are being used?
  • structure - how is the text ordered?
  • tone - what is the overall tone or mood of the writing?
  • viewpoints and values - how does each writer view their subject?

Structuring your comparison

It can sometimes be tricky to structure your writing when making a comparison. It’s helpful to have some sentence starters and linking words that compare:

  • Similarly
  • Likewise
  • Equally

There are also helpful sentence starters and linking words that contrast:

  • In contrast
  • In comparison
  • However
A girl studying in her bedroom
Use sentence starters to help structure your comparison

Comparing non-fiction texts - an example

These two non-fiction texts both deal with the subject of animal cruelty but use different ways to persuade the audience that damaging practices should be stopped. The leaflet from the 19th century focuses on how the fashion for exotic feathers is leading to the killing of rare birds. Similarly, the more recent blog focuses on ‘birdcrime’ in the UK. The 19th century leaflet uses more emotive, shocking language to influence the reader, whereas the modern blog uses statistics and facts to give weight to their arguments.

Non-fiction texts are all around us, and comparing them can help you become more aware of how language is being used in society. Comparing non-fiction texts can often prompt you to notice things that you might not have considered about a text in isolation.

Quiz

Find out how much you know about comparing non-fiction texts in this short quiz!

Where next?

Discover more from around Bitesize.

How to investigate language in non-fiction texts
How to investigate structure in non-fiction texts
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