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Non fiction texts

Context of non-fiction texts

Context of non-fiction texts

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Context of non-fiction texts

In a nutshell 

The context of a text refers to its background and the situation in which it was written. This affects both the aims and the impact of the text. This summary will explore the main things to consider when trying to understand the context of a non-fiction text, including some potential questions to ask yourself about the text and examples of the effects of context. 

What type of non-fiction text is it?

What features does the text have? Is the text a newspaper report? Or maybe a biography or instruction manual? 


Despite both being non-fiction texts, a newspaper report will have a very different style and purpose from an instruction manual and therefore should be read and interpreted differently. 

Who wrote the text?

What is the author's age? Do they have an intention behind writing the piece? Are they strongly opinionated or neutral?


An influencer who is getting paid to promote a product on their online blog is more likely to give it a good review than somebody writing about the same product who isn't getting paid. 

When was the text written? 

Was it written recently or a long time ago? What was going on in the world during this time?


Texts written in the 1800s are likely to include much more formal and complicated language. They also won't refer to modern concepts like social media. 

Where was the text written?

Was it written locally or far away? Was it written at home or maybe at a workplace or a school?


A newspaper article written for a school newspaper will be less serious and professional than a newspaper article written by a journalist in a BBC news office. 

What was the text written for? 

What is the purpose of the text? Is its main aim to inform its audience? Is it trying to sell you something?


An advert trying to sell you something will include very different language, content and formatting than a text in an academic journal, such as catchy slogans. 

Where was the text published?

Where can you find the text? What platform was the text created for? Perhaps an online blog or a newspaper?


A text found in an academic journal will be much more formal and detailed than a text found in a magazine article.   

Using context to improve your understanding of a non-fiction text

Depending on the non-fiction text you are reading, some of these considerations will be more important to improve your understanding of the text. For instance, sometimes knowing when a text was written is more important than knowing where it was published.


For instance, when trying to understand the context of a newspaper report, it is most important to know 1) when it was written and 2) who it was written by. Firstly, this is because you are more likely to understand the contents of the report if you know what was going on in the world at the time it was written. And secondly, the opinions of the journalist, or the newspaper in general, might affect how the report has been written, and therefore how you should interpret it. 

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the context of a text?

Why does the context of a non-fiction text matter?

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