How to Use Information from Non-literary Texts

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  • 0:03 What Is a Non-Literary Text?
  • 1:29 Confirm the Facts
  • 2:06 Gain Knowledge
  • 2:51 Develop Skills and…
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rachel Noorda
This lesson defines the term non-literary text, gives examples of the different types of non-literary texts, and gives strategies to use in analyzing non-literary texts by confirming facts, gaining knowledge, developing skills, and performing tasks.

What Is a Non-Literary Text?

Some people love to bake. They'll make cookies, pies, or cakes. If, for example, they decide to bake a cake, they need to get some information about how to do it. For instance, if you decide to make a chocolate cake from scratch you might look for a recipe for that cake from a cookbook, use that recipe to find out what kind of ingredients you need, and then learn how to put the ingredients together in the correct order to make a perfect cake. A recipe, like the one you used to make the cake, is a good example of a non-literary text.

Literary texts are texts that are narrative, or tell a story, and contain elements of fiction. Some good examples of literary texts include novels, short stories, and poetry. However, non-literary texts are texts whose primary purpose is to convey information and do not have the same narrative and fictional elements as literary texts. Examples of non-literary texts include textbooks, legal documents, articles in academic journals, recipes, how-to books, and instruction manuals.

But once you know what a non-literary text is, the question becomes: How do you read a non-literary text? Reading a literary text includes searching for motifs, metaphors, and symbolism, but reading and analyzing a non-literary text is quite different. Analyzing a non-literary text requires confirming the facts, gaining knowledge, developing skills, and performing tasks.

Confirm the Facts

Even though the purpose of a non-literary text is to convey information, you always have to be careful and make sure that the information you're getting is accurate. There are a couple of ways that you can confirm that what you are reading is true.

One way to do this is by looking at the author. Non-literary texts are often written by experts in the field, so you can look at the author's experience and education to get a sense of whether or not he or she will be a reliable source. You can also look closely at the kind of data presented in the non-literary text: What type of sample do they have? How was the research conducted? How was it analyzed, and who analyzed it?

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