Determining Point of View & Purpose in Informational Texts

Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

In informational texts, authors use certain aspects of writing to illustrate their purpose and point of view. In this lesson, you'll look at how to identify both point of view and purpose.

Informational Texts

When you're reading the news or an article in a magazine, have you ever thought about who might be writing it, or what their opinion on the subject really is? Even if you don't realize it, authors almost always give a hint of their opinion, or point of view. In addition, they always have a purpose, or reason for writing the text. For both point of view and purpose, the author uses the language in his or her article to let the reader know what's going on. In this lesson, we are specifically looking at informational texts.

Point of View

The author's point of view in a text is, essentially, their opinion. It's how the author's view the subject at hand. In persuasive texts, since the whole purpose is to convince you, the reader, that the author's opinion is correct, author point of view is pretty easy to determine. In informational texts, on the other hand, the point is simply to inform you about the topic. That means authors of informational texts usually keep personal input and opinion to a minimum. However, it is still almost always possible to determine author point of view. You simply have to look more closely at the rhetoric (effective aspects of writing) in the article, and the language the author uses will point you toward the point of view.

Example Analysis

To look at determining author point of view and, later, purpose, we're going to use an informational text about the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Take a good look at the paragraph below, and see if you can determine the author's point of view:

'Some people expressed concern about wolves becoming habituated to humans while in the acclimation pens. However, wolves typically avoid human contact. Confinement was also a negative experience for them and reinforced their dislike of human presence' (National Park Service, 'Wolf Restoration Continued,' 2016).

In this particular paragraph, the author is saying that the concern people expressed about the wolves turned out not to be an issue. This opinion is never explicitly stated, which is typical of informational texts. Instead, the author states the concern, and then gives facts supporting the idea that the concern isn't valid, such as the fact that wolves typically avoid humans. So here you see that by looking at the way the author presents the facts, you can also determine the author's point of view.


The other thing you need to look for in texts is an author's purpose. In informational texts, the purpose is pretty much exclusively to inform the reader about a subject. That purpose is what makes it an informational text. In order to make sure it really is an informational text, though, you need to know how to see what the author's purpose is. The main thing to look for is an abundance of facts and figures, and a minimum of opinions. The only opinions you're likely to see in informational texts is in the form of a quote from someone relevant to the information being discussed.

Example Analysis

Let's look at another paragraph from the Yellowstone wolves article. As you're reading, look for facts. Remember, facts are provable pieces of information; things you'd be able to look up somewhere else and be certain that they are true.

'In 1991, Congress provided funds to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare, in consultation with the National Park Service and the US Forest Service, an environmental impact statement (EIS) on restoration of wolves. In June 1994, after several years and a near-record number of public comments, the Secretary of the Interior signed the Record of Decision for the final EIS for reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho' (National Park Service, 'Wolf Restoration Continued,' 2016).

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