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Types of non-fiction texts

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Types of non-fiction texts

​​In a nutshell

Non-fiction texts are those that are not "made up" by the author and recount facts (or, at least, what the author believes to be true). Understanding the different types of non-fiction texts and what they contain is crucial to how you answer questions about them in the exam. Non-fiction texts can range from informative to comedic to personal. Below are some of the non-fiction texts you might encounter.


Newspaper reports

These make up the bulk of what is found inside a newspaper. They might tell you about what is going on in the world, or in your country or local area. A news report will tell you about the facts, key people, dates and places. It usually takes a neutral tone and should not have a political leaning although opinions of key figures or local people may be quoted.

Newspaper columns and opinion pieces 

Often in newspapers (particularly at the national level), famous or otherwise renowned public figures might have a column. This tends to take on a more opinionated tone where columnists show their personality and their purpose might be beyond simply to inform. For example, a columnist might aim to be comedic, sarcastic or rhetorical, and they appeal to their target audience through their unique way of speaking.

Tabloids versus broadsheets 

Tabloids are newspapers that appeal to the "masses". They typically use simpler sentence structure and vocabulary. They might focus more on celebrity news, gossip and sport. Examples include The Sun and the Daily Mail

Broadsheets are more intellectual. They often discuss politics, economics and current affairs. The language used is more complex and serious. Examples include The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.


Like newspapers, reviews often show a mixture of information and opinion. Critics give their opinion on anything from restaurants to theatre shows to musical performances. Reviews are often witty and sometimes rather critical of the subject matter, and they might use persuasive devices to convince the reader of their viewpoint.


The new Star Wars movie pays tasteful homage to the previous films of the saga, and has all the hallmarks of the cinematic universe that will delight the nostalgic Padawan. That said, it gives little to newcomers to chew on, and young to-be fans might leave the cinema wishing for more.

Biography and autobiography

Biographies and autobiographies give accounts from the life of a certain individual. Biographies are written by somebody else; autobiographies are written by the person themselves. The purpose of biographies is to inform and entertain, and they contain episodes from a person's life. This person could be a well-known public figure or somebody ordinary who has had an extraordinary life.  A biography can come from a person's close relationship to their subject or from a mixture of outside sources. 


One recent example of a bestselling autobiography is Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, an account and reflection on the 44th President's background and upbringing.


Diaries and biographies are somewhat alike – although diaries are always written by (and about) the person themselves (in the first person). Diaries are usually in chronological order, with the date written before each entry.

In the 21st century, diarists have taken to the web in so-called "blogs", where writers might appeal to a particular audience who share a common interest: music, travel or hobby crafts, for instance.


Two of the most famous diarists of all time are Samuel Pepys and Anne Frank. The former recounted political events in 17th-century London, the latter recounted her time hiding from Nazis during the occupation of the Netherlands.

Travel writing

Travel writing is exactly what it sounds like – writing about your travels. Travel writers are informative, but usually give their own opinions and critiques about a destination. As a result, they are largely autobiographical in nature. Travel writers are often witty, and travel writing focuses on the relationship between the individual and their (new) environment.


Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain - which is to say, all of it. Every last bit of it, good and bad - Marmite, village fetes, country lanes, people saying 'mustn't grumble' and 'I'm terribly sorry but', people apologizing to me when I conk them with a nameless elbow, milk in bottles, beans on toast, haymaking in June, stinging nettles, seaside piers, Ordnance Survey maps, crumpets, hot-water bottles as a necessity, drizzly Sundays - every bit of it.

Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island


Persuasive devices
Persuasive devices are techniques used by the author to persuade, or convince, the reader of a particular point of view.

Want to find out more? Check out these other lessons!

Finding information in non-fiction texts

Non-fiction text types

Analysing language in non-fiction

Analysing structure in non-fiction

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


  • Question: What are non-fiction text features?

    Answer: Non-fiction texts can range from informative to comedic to personal. They are often witty and sometimes rather critical.

  • Question: What are types of non-fiction writing?

    Answer: Examples of non-fiction text types include newspaper reports, reviews and biographies.

  • Question: What is a non-fiction text?

    Answer: Non-fiction texts are those that are not "made up" by the author – and recount facts (or, at least, what the author believes to be true).



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