Determining Point of View & Purpose in Informational Texts

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  • 0:04 Informational Texts
  • 0:36 Determining P.O.V.
  • 1:06 Sample Analysis #1
  • 1:56 Determining Purpose
  • 2:25 Sample Analysis #2
  • 3:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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 reading an article in a magazine or a newspaper, have you ever thought about who might be writing it or what he or she really thinks about the subject? Even if you don't realize it, an author almost always provides clues about his or her point of view, or how the writer views the subject at hand. In addition to presenting an opinion, an author always has a purpose, or reason for writing the text. For both point of view and purpose, authors use language to let the reader know what's going on. In this lesson, we'll be looking at how point of view and purpose work in informational texts.

Determining P.O.V.

In persuasive texts, an author's point of view is pretty easy to determine, since the texts' purpose is to convince the reader, that the writer's opinion is correct. In informational texts, on the other hand, the point is to inform the reader about the topic, meaning that the authors usually keep personal input and opinion to a minimum. However, it's still almost always possible to determine the author's point of view. You simply have to look more closely at the article's rhetoric, or effective aspects of writing, whereby the language the author uses will direct you toward the point of view.

Sample Analysis #1

Let's look at an informational text about the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and see if we 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 provides facts supporting the idea that the concern isn't valid, such as the fact that wolves typically avoid humans. By looking at the way the author presents the facts, you can also determine the author's point of view.

Determining Purpose

The other thing you need to look for in an informational text is the author's purpose. In an informational text, the purpose is 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, we need to know how to identify the author's purpose. 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.

Sample Analysis #2

Let's look at another paragraph from the article about the Yellowstone wolves, while focusing on the facts. Remember, facts are provable pieces of information or statements that can be proven true through research:

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