How to read a non-fiction text

How to read a non-fiction text

Type of text

  • Medium, quality press, popular press, free papers, internet or magazine.

What is the text about?


  • What is the writer’s background? Consider age, sex, education, background and occupation, religious or political point of view.
  • How does the writer establish his/hers Ethos?
  • Does the writer include himself as part of the group addresses? If so, why?


  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is there an implicit audience?
  • What is the intended reader’s background? Consider age, sex, education, background, occupation? Religious or political point of view.


  • Where and how does the writer/speaker appeal to Logos?
  • Where and how does the writer/speaker appeal to Pathos?
  • Where and how does the writer/speaker appeal to Ethos?
  • How is the text structured?
    • Coherent overall structure?
    • Is the theme introduced at the beginning and the elaborated on?
    • Is there a conclusion at the end?
  • Is the sentence structure simple or complex?
    • Are the sentences long, short or incomplete?
  • Is the vocabulary concrete or abstract? Colloquial, formal or neutral?
    • Is a particular word class common in the text?
    • Is there a use of or lack of adjectives and verbs?
    • Are specific words or phrases repeated?
  • Is there anything characteristic about punctuation or word order?
    • What is characteristic of the tone and style?
    • Are there any connotations? Positive or negative?
  • Sound effects – are there examples of alliteration or assonance?
  • Is imagery implied? Is symbolism? Are there examples of metaphor, simile or personification?
  • Does the language belong to a certain dialect of sociolect?
  • Are there quotations? If yes, by whom, and in what way are they used?
  • Are there any references to specific topics, places or people?
  • What arguments are used? Are they weak or strong?
  • What is the lay-out of the text?
  • Are there illustrations? If yes, what kind and what is the relationship between illustration and text?
  • Is there presentation balanced and fair or is it biased (unfair)?
  • Does the form compliment the content?


  • What occasion has caused the writer to produce this text?
  • In what way(s) has this situation influenced the text?
  • Where the speech is given/where is the ad placed (medium)?


  • Why has the writer written this text (to describe, to inform, to provoke, to persuade, to explain, to entertain, to manipulate, or…?)?
  • What is the intention for this text/speech?
  • Does the text succeed in fulfilling the writer’s intentions?

Wider contexts

  • Relate the text to other texts on the same or similar theme.
  • What are the similarities and differences?
  • Which do you prefer and why?
  • What is conveyed or achieved by the comparison?