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Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
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What Are Informational Texts?

Informational text is a subgenre of nonfiction aimed at informing the reader about a given topic. These texts draw from a variety of sources to support the information they are conveying. It may use primary source documents, graphs and charts, results from study, or any number of other verifiable sources. Generally, the source from which informational text got its information will be included in the bibliography at the end of the text.

Informational texts come in many forms such as textbooks, scholarly journals, encyclopedias, and newspapers. Unlike fictional books and other genres of nonfiction, informational texts are not trying to tell a narrative. Their purpose is to convey information, not tell a story. Therefore, informational texts do not use elements such as characters and may also be non-linear. Some types of informational texts, like textbooks, will come with a table of contents, an index, and a glossary of vocabulary words. All of these help the reader consume the information they are looking for.

When reading an informational text, especially for the purpose of gathering research for an essay or project, there are a few important strategies to remember. First, one should think about what they already know about the topic. This helps digest the information in the text because there is already have a foundation to build on. Second, readers should survey the text. Scanning through the text will give them an understanding of its structure and a sense of the information included within it. This is important because it allows a student to target the important sections of the text when looking for specific information. Third, it is important to take notes. In doing so, the learner can refer back to the information without needing the text itself. When doing this, the reader should write down any questions that the text didn’t answer so they know what to look for in additional resources. Also, anyone reading an informational text should be sure to quiz themselves on the main ideas to ensure they process all the information in the text.

What Is Textual Evidence?

The definition of textual evidence is information evidence used in writing that is directly pulled from a verified source. Textual evidence can come from secondary sources, such as informational texts like scholarly journals or textbooks, or it can come from primary sources. Informational texts can be used for textual evidence, and they themselves also use textual evidence. For example, a history textbook on the American Revolution may contain an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence. Textual evidence is important because it strengthens the validity of someone’s writing.

Using Textual Evidence in Writing

When using textual evidence in writing it’s important to verify the validity of a source, especially when using secondary sources like informational texts. This can be done by checking to see if there is a bibliography or work cited that shows where the text got its own information. Another strategy to confirm a source’s credibility is cross-checking the information with other information texts. Once the validity of the text is confirmed, then there are several different ways to incorporate its information into writing.

The first method is quoting. Quoting is entering information word-for-word from a source, and all quotes should be encased in quotation marks. When using quotes, it’s important to give the necessary context preceding the quote as well as adding in personal analysis afterward. A quote can be anything from a few words to a few sentences; anything longer is not recommended. If a quote containing needed evidence is longer, it should be pared back or another method of providing textual evidence, such as paraphrasing or summarizing, should be used.

Paraphrasing textual evidence is putting the information from a source into a writer’s own words. That means both changing word choice and sentence structure. When paraphrasing, the actual meaning of the information should not be changed. Summarizing is similar; however, unlike paraphrasing which is generally the same length as the original source, a summary is a shortened version.

How to Cite Evidence

When using textual evidence from an outside source it’s critical to properly cite the text that was used. Not only does this provide credibility to the work, but it also gives the author of the original text proper attribution. There are two different methods of citing evidence: in-text citations and bibliographies. The format of these two methods depends on what style is being used, i.e., MLA, Chicago, APA, or other style guides.

Generally though, an in-text citation will occur within the document itself. These are usually brief, containing simple information such as author name and page number. A bibliography, sometimes called a works-cited page, gives more detail on the sources used and is included at the end of the document. Bibliographies include information such as title, author, type of text, the year it was created, and when it was accessed.

Textual Evidence Examples

Just as textual evidence can be formatted in more than one way (quotes, paraphrasing, summarizing), the evidence itself can come in a variety of forms. A few examples are:

  • Facts: factual statements of information that don’t include outside analysis or commentary
  • Statistics: numerical or quantitative data
  • Anecdotes: true stories about individual experiences or case studies
  • Expert testimony: Analysis or commentary from a subject-matter expert
  • Illustrations: Drawings, photographs, or any type of image (not including charts)
  • Charts: A graphical or visual representation of data
  • Tables: An organized collection of data or information

Why Is Textual Evidence Important?

Utilizing textual evidence is vital to any academic piece of writing. When writing an informative piece, textual evidence lends credibility. It ensures the reader that the information is valid. In a persuasive piece, textual evidence is used to strengthen the argument being made and provides support for the thesis. It also is a means of giving credit to the authors of the sources from which the writing was garnered. Properly cited textual evidence prevents the possibility of plagiarism. Cited textual evidence also helps the reader find additional information on the topic.

Lesson Summary

Informational text is a subgenre of nonfiction focused on informing the reader about a topic or topics. When reading informational texts, especially for the purposes of doing research, there are a few important strategies to remember. The reader should think about what they already know, then survey the text, and finally, make sure to take notes while reading. When finished, review their notes, quiz themselves on the main ideas, and consider any unanswered questions they may still have.

Informational texts can be used when writing academic pieces through incorporating textual evidence. This evidence can be presented through quotes, paraphrasing, or summarizing. The evidence itself can come in many forms, such as facts, expert testimony, anecdotes, statistics, and graphs. When using textual evidence, the sources that were used should always be cited. This can be done through a combination of in-text citations and a bibliography, or works-cited page.

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