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How to Connect Ideas in an Informational Text

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  • 0:00 What Is an Informational Text?
  • 1:06 Print Features
  • 2:10 Organizational Aids
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

Informational texts are factual, nonfiction writings. In order for us to learn new information, we should be able to find and connect the ideas in an informational text, and this lesson will introduce the key features that organize these ideas.

What Is an Informational Text?

Each day we learn new information. Sometimes this just happens, like when we watch a news show or learn a new hobby. Maybe a friend shared something with you that was completely new to you. Other times we may plan to learn new information. This can happen when you study or when you seek out new ideas through research. Often times, the mission to find new ideas leads you to informational texts.

Informational texts are factual, nonfiction writings. Informational texts inform the audience in an organized, easy to follow format. Informational texts can be essays, articles, books, handouts, or brochures.

Informational texts have unique qualities that make them easy to identify. They all contain similar organizational features, such as a table of contents, preface, index, and glossary. They also follow similar structures and patterns. Within these, there are several ways an author may connect ideas in an informational text. Let's explore some of these now.

Print Features

One of the main ways an author may connect ideas in an informational text is the organizational print features. These features are aids that guide the main ideas of the text. It is a good idea to first preview a text before reading by looking over these print features.

First, the author will list all of the key concepts in the table of contents. By skimming through the table of contents, you can see how the paper is organized and in what order the author will present the main ideas to you. This way, you can keep a lookout for those main ideas as you read the writing.

Next, read the preface, or introduction, to the writing. The preface will give you a bit of a preview of the author's reason for writing, the main goals of the paper, and the importance behind key ideas.

At the end of the paper, the author may include a glossary, which is a list of key words and definitions used in the writing. Even though it may sound strange, you should read through the glossary before you start reading. Take a few minutes to look over the key words to get an idea of some of the important main ideas that will be included in the paper.

Organizational Aids

After you preview the text, it's time to read. As you read the content, the author will include several different organizational aids that will help connect the main ideas. The first thing you may notice are headings and subheadings. The headings of a writing will represent the main ideas. Under these main ideas, you will find the major support of the headings through the subheadings. These headings and subheadings help an author connect the details first to each main idea but also to the overall thesis and goal of the paper. For example, if an author was writing an informational text on bears, he/she may have several main headings that could include polar bears, brown bears, and panda bears. Under each of these main headings, the author may include subheadings on population, survival, and behavior.

Next, an informational text may also include different fonts to emphasize key words and ideas. By doing this, we can identify the important terms and make the connection to our earlier preview of the glossary. In addition, the author can identify these key words to explain the importance to the main idea they support. There are several different ways an author may use font for key words including bold font, italics, and different colors. In our earlier example of bears, an author may use bold font for each of the headings and then italics for the subheadings. In addition, the author may introduce a definition and use bold here as well.

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