Structure of a Text – Concept, types of text and examples

We explain what the structure of a text is, how is the structure of an expository, argumentative, narrative text and examples.

structure of a text
The structure of a text is governed by coherence and cohesion.

What is the structure of a text?

The structure of a text is the way its parts are arranged, that is, the internal order that it presents and that is governed by two basic conditions:

  • Consistency: Parts of the text must be understandable, legible and convey a clear idea
  • Cohesion: These parts must unite in a harmonious way, they must flow and form part of a unit.

Writing is almost always a complicated matter, since the transcription of our ideas into written words requires a planning process and a very different method from spoken improvisation. For this, it is essential to handle the structure of the same well, that attending to coherence and cohesion, we can differentiate respectively in:

  • Internal structure of the text, which has to do with the distribution of ideas within their respective paragraphs, so that the message you want to give is understandable and logical.
  • External structure of the text, which has to do with the ordering of the paragraphs in recognizable segments of the text, to present the reader with an orderly and methodical route of ideas.

The external structure, however, will almost always depend on the type of text we are building, since we will have a very different final task in mind, whether what we are writing is a story, an essay or a journalistic report. There are even very specific cases of texts that are necessarily governed by a predetermined scheme or presentation pattern.

What types of text are there?

When we speak of text, we naturally refer to a body of writing, that is, to a finite set of words organized in sentences and phrases, which in turn make up a different set of ordered paragraphs. Everything that is written is text, but not necessarily in the same way. Thus, we must distinguish between the different ways in which the text can occur, that is, the different types of text that there are:

  • Expository texts. They are those in which it is sought to transmit information to the reader, through data, quotes and explanations, without thereby openly assuming a position regarding what has been said, that is, without giving an opinion, or favoring any interpretation or point of view. This does not mean that they are always objective texts, but it does mean that they keep the forms regarding the way in which the information can be understood. Examples of this type of text are newspaper reports, encyclopedia entries and school textbooks.
  • Argumentative texts. They are those in which a point of view is built on the subject in question, through the use of arguments, suitable examples or objective information, all put at the service of convincing the reader to interpret things as they are proposed. They are texts that seek to convince, demonstrate or prove something. Some examples of argumentative texts are opinion columns in newspapers, newspaper editorials or political speeches.
  • Narrative texts. They are those in which a story or a story of different length and nature is told, using more or less stylistic or literary resources to embellish it or to generate a greater impact. This means that there are stories more attached to the real, and others more imaginative, but this does not represent any substantial difference with respect to the structure of the story. Examples of this type of text are novels, newspaper reports and children’s stories.

Structure of an expository text

structure of an expository text
The expository texts seek to convey information in the most objective way possible.

Since they are generally informative texts, that is, whose purpose is to convey information in as much detail as possible, the expository texts are governed by the following basic structure:

  • Introduction. Being the initial stage of the text, it seeks to enter the reader into the topic of interest, through supplementary information that goes from the most general to the most specific. Such information should pave the way for the reader to understand what follows, building a frame of reference and making it clear to him the basic things he will need for later. For example, in an encyclopedic article on Egyptian art, the introduction is likely to explain who the Egyptians were, at what time in antiquity they had their cultural heyday, and what were the main features of their culture.
  • Development. This is the stage of greatest density of the text, in which the most important ideas are exposed and the subject in question is fully addressed. It is common at this stage that examples, quotes or even graphics and other materials are used to help illustrate what has been said. Continuing with our example, in this stage Egyptian art will be fully addressed, going from the simplest to the most complicated, and relying on illustrations, photographs and descriptions of fundamental pieces.
  • Conclusions. Final stage of the text, which serves as a closure to the topic discussed above and at the same time offers additional valuable information, which can put the topic in relation to other important ones, or can take up parts of what has been said on which it is convenient to insist, finally, the final ideas with which it is hoped that the reader is finally left are raised here. And to complete the example, the article on Egyptian art would close with the relevance of Egyptian art for Western canons, citing some specialists, and summarizing some of its outstanding features that may account for it.

Structure of an argumentative text

Since the argumentative texts seek to convince or promote certain ideasIts structure is similar to that of the expository text, but with notable differences. This structure would be the following:

  • Thesis. The initial stage of the argumentative text starts by making clear the author’s position on the subject. For this, it is possible to have a very brief introductory stage, to provide some context, but the most important thing will always be to show the fundamental premises that will be defended later through arguments. For example, in the case of an opinion article against the government, the author can begin by raising the most serious aspect of current politics, which he considers to be the entire responsibility of the government and that warrants a change of president.
  • Argumentation. Once the fundamental premises of the point of view have been exposed, the stage is reached in which it corresponds to sustain or defend them. This means that we must offer the reader arguments that support or demonstrate what we have said initially, so that they try to share our point of view, or that they refute possible objections to our initial approach. Continuing with our previous example, the opinion piece against the government could defend its point of view by citing the government’s broken promises that are relevant, or by citing what the law states in this regard, or by explaining how similar situations are handled in other countries. or how previous governments dealt with them.
  • Conclusions. The final stage of the argumentative text is key to leaving the right impression on the reader, and in it the logical conclusions of the previous premises are established, emphasizing the way in which we must (according to the author) interpret them. It is generally a short and to the point text, which gives the reader a final, explicit point of view, with which he seeks to stay when he finishes reading. Thus, the opinion article of our example would culminate by explaining to the reader that, once we have seen all of the above, there are no doubts regarding the responsibility of the government and that, therefore, it would be best to change it.

Structure of a narrative text

In the case of the narrative text, its fundamental structure is that suggested by Aristotle (384-322 BC) in his literary studies of Antiquity, which have remained in force since then. Accordingly, every story is made up of:

  • Approach. The initial stage of any story consists of the necessary presentation of the characters, that is, in saying who is the protagonist of the story, where it occurs and other information that establishes the starting point of the story. This segment usually consists of the presentation of an initial situation that will become more complicated as the complication progresses. At the end of this first stage, we must know what is necessary to continue reading without missing anything. For example, a story about a group of soldiers returning from war could begin by introducing the narrator – a soldier – and through him to his companions who are traveling alongside him on the ship returning from abroad.
  • Knot or complication. The midpoint of every story is characterized by the appearance of obstacles in the path of the protagonist, that is, in the entanglement or complication of the plot thread. This is the moment when things get difficult for the character, when antagonists appear or when events go against him. Following our example, the knot in the soldiers’ story could have to do with the mishaps of the ship on its way home, or in the fight that seems inevitable between the protagonist and one of his companions, which could cloud the return to home.
  • Outcome. Finally, the denouement is the segment of the story in which the conflict is resolved and the plot reaches its end. Normally, this segment shows a change suffered by the character, be it a tragic ending or a happy ending. To end the example, the story of the soldiers could culminate with the antagonist falling out of the water during the fight, thus marking a tragic ending to what would have to be a happy return home.