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Using text features to locate information | Reading

Nonfiction texts contain useful features that organize information. You can learn to read these text features like a map to help point you towards the things you want to know!

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Video transcript

- [David] Hello, readers. Today we're going to talk about how to use text features to find information in a piece of nonfiction writing like a textbook, an encyclopedia entry or a news article. Information in these texts is organized with a specific purpose in mind. The author wants you to be able to read the text features like a map so you can find the information that you need. So the first text feature I wanna talk about today is the title and that's just the name at the top of a piece of writing. And its purpose is to tell you really what you're about to read. Let me give you an example. We can see this article here, this text in yellow, this is the title and it says, "All about Pets." What does that tell us about the content of this writing? It's gonna be all about pets. Now below it, in green, you can see three examples of the next kind of text feature that I wanna talk about, which are called headings. And we'll go back to that other screen in a second, don't worry. And headings organize information into sections. So we can see that there are three big headings here. We've got popular pets, unusual pets, and taking care of your pets. These are the three headings that all fall under the main topic of all about pets. Smaller than a heading is a subheading, which organizes text into even smaller sections. So if we go back to the text again, we can see that under the main heading of popular pets, there are three subsections, cats, dogs and fish, the three most popular pets in the United States. Another important text feature you might see in a piece of writing is bold text, bold words. And that's when a word or phrase is printed in a thicker darker letter, and I'll show you exactly what that looks like. But the purpose of it, the reason that an author might choose to include bold text in a piece of writing is to point out important terms to the reader, specific words that they want you to know. And usually that's in the interest of teaching you, the reader, a new word. If we scan this page for bold text, I see three examples. Do you see how the words are darker and the letters themselves are thicker? That's what it means to be bold. That's what it means for a word to be bold. So we've got rare, companions. Over here in this little sidebar, we've got the word endangered. And many times in pieces of writing that use bold words like this, there will be a section at the end of the chapter called a glossary, which is really kind of a holding pen for vocabulary words. You flip to end, you look at the glossary, and it lists all the bolded words and their definitions. Now I just referred to a sidebar, which is this little section here in this orange-yellow box. Now a sidebar is where an editor or an author puts information that doesn't really fit in the rest of the text. So this is next to the unusual pets heading. And we can see that it begins, "While having an unusual pet can be perfectly fine." It's connected to this section, but it's not essential to the point of this paragraph. Sidebars are where you put important information that otherwise wouldn't fit into the piece. This teal box here that says take a peek at what's inside, grooming tips 3, healthy treats 5, training your pet 8, this is a table of contents. So if this page, all about pets, is the first page of a magazine, we've opened the cover, and now we're looking at the first page, then this little box here is telling us what to expect in the rest of the magazine, what page numbers we can find all of these other articles on. There's also a similar thing called an index, which is located in the back of a book. And that's just a list of all the topics in the piece in alphabetical order. So if I wanna flip to the back of this piece of writing, and see if I can find a place where it mentions pugs, I would go and start with the section that begins with P, look for a mention of pug dogs, and then I would go to the page where pugs are listed. And then this final heading on this page is called taking care of your pet, and what's interesting about it is that it contains a bulleted list. These little round dots, we call bullets. Sometimes putting things in a list like this is the quickest most efficient way to share information. So this is a three point list that all pets need some sort of food and water, a place to sleep and rest, way to exercise or play, ba-ba-ba, three different little points. And lists will either use bullets like these little round things, numbered lists, or sometimes lists that just use letters of the alphabet for each point. So A, food and water. B, a place to rest or sleep. And C, a way to exercise or play. Now down here at the very bottom of the page it says want to learn more? Www.avma.org/resourcestools/pet-owners/petcare. And when I move my cursor over it, you can see there's a little flag, the cursor changes to a pointy finger, and that means it's a hyperlink. And that's gonna take us to a website. And here we are on the website of the American Veterinary Medical Association. So this is a website operated by animal doctors. And you can see that this page too is organized under the title of "Pet Care." It's got a bunch of different subheadings like responsible pet ownership, preventive care, and keep them healthy. So to review, the title tells us what the article is going to be about. The heading divides up that article into chunks. The subheading divides it up into even smaller chunks. Sidebars contain text that wouldn't fit elsewhere in the piece. Bold type tells us what words the author thinks are important for us to learn. Tables of contents tell us what content we can expect. And finally, hyperlinks connect us to other places on the internet where we can learn more things. You can learn anything, David out.