If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Interpreting text features | Reading

Let's talk about text features! Text features include resources like charts, maps, images, timelines, and other parts of a passage that aren't just the words! They can help readers navigate the text and visualize information. They're just as important to comprehending a text as the words themselves.

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

- [David] Hello, readers. Today I'm gonna be talking about text features. Which is to say, the parts of a text that aren't just words. We look at text features to get a better understanding of what the text is all about. Although they're not words. Like I said, text features help our reading comprehension. So what's a good example of a text feature? Well, let's start with, ah, say, a map. Maps are a great example of a feature of the text that isn't made up of words. So this is a social studies textbook. This section is about Egypt. I've turned to this page where there is a map. What is this map of? Well, we can look at this part here. This text here over on the side is a caption. It's something that can tell us about an image. And the map is labeled. So it's about the Nile River and how the Nile River is fed from rainfall to the south, the water travels to the north. Here's Egypt up here. Don't focus too much on the details of this being about the Nile and stuff. Really, what we're talking about is here is an image, there is a caption next to the image, reading the caption helps us understand what's in the image, and looking at the image helps us understand what's in the caption. So we've got maps, we've got images. And that can be illustrations, photos, blueprints, anything really. And if we go back to our social studies textbook, we can see here there's this image. And just looking at the image on its own, we might not be able to tell what that is exactly. But again, there is another helpful little caption over to the side that says this is an aerial view of the Nile. So now we know what this is. And that can help ground us as we go through the rest of the text, which is also, I assume, about the Nile River an ancient Egypt. The caption and its picture are two halves of a whole. They're both helping you understand the other. Other useful text features include charts, diagrams, and graphs, which can include things like timelines. This page here has a table. You can see up at the top, this top row is labeled Ancient Egypt. And then on the left, we have all the different periods of Egyptian history. And on the right, all the dates associated with those periods. There's also a timeline in this lesson. And this one has a bunch of different text elements, right? So we have, it's not a traditional-looking timeline, but you can see that it's arranged from top to bottom, oldest to most recent. Those are just some of the many options that are available to you when you look at a text. Remember that when you're reading a passage, it's not just the words, it's everything on the page. Sometimes I even like to familiarize myself with the charts or the diagrams or the images on the page before I start reading, before I really get down to the business of reading the paragraphs. Because that helps me get rooted. It helps me anchor myself in what the text is gonna be about. I look at the pictures, I skim the captions just to say, "Okay, what's goin' on here? "Cool, we're talkin' about rivers. "We're talkin' about ancient Egypt. "I'm ready." And building those skills of readiness and being able to anchor yourself in any text that you encounter is what's gonna make you a strong reader. You can learn anything. David out.