Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

4.2.2: Internal Text Structures

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    Internal Text Structures

    When you are reading informational text, you will notice that authors use many different text structures or organizational patterns to organize their information. The following chart lists signal words, definitions, and examples of some of the most common text structures you will encounter when reading informational text:

    Text Structure

    page1image21107776Signal Words



    Cause and Effect

    so that, because of, thus, unless, since, as a result, then, reasons for, consequently, explanation for, nevertheless, thus, accordingly

    The writer explains the reasons for an event or phenomenon.

    Psychologist Alphonse Chapanis and other researchers redesigned the cockpit controls of aircraft to make them less confusing and easier to respond to, and this led to a decrease in pilot errors and crashed.

    Comparison/ Contrast

    different from, same as, alike, similar to, compared to

    unlike, but, yet, either...or, in contrast, while, although, unless, however

    The writer discusses the similarities and differences of two ideas, objects, or processes.

    Many studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can help many people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders.In contrast, research reveals that some types of therapies actually might be harmful on average.

    Enumeration or Listing

    to begin with, first, second, in addition, next, then, last, finally, another, also, most important

    The writer presents information in a structure that resembles an outline. It is often presented in bulleted format.

    There are several extensive ethical guidelines for how human participants should be treated in psychological research.Following are a few highlights:

    1. Informed consent.
    2. Confidentiality.....

    Sequential or Chronological ~ Process

    first, second, third, now, before, after, then, next, finally, following, while, meanwhile, last, during, not long, when, on date

    The writer presents a series of events or explains a procedure or process in the order they happen.

    This module outlines the characteristics of the science, and the promises it holds for understanding behavior. The ethics that guide psychological research are briefly described. Itconcludes with the reasons you should learn about scientific psychology.

    Concept/ Definition

    is, for example, involves, can be, defined, an example, for instance, in fact, also, contain, make up

    The writer introduces an idea and explains what it is.

    Specifically, science is the use of systemic observation in order to acquire knowledge.

    Generalization & Illustration/Example

    is, for example, involves, can be, defined, an example, for instance, in fact, also, contain, make up, such as, including

    The writer explains phenomenon and processes by listing examples and unique characteristics.

    A growing body of research is concerned with determining which therapies are the most and least effective for the treatment of psychological disorders. For example, many studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can help many people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders.

    External Text Structures or Features

    A text may contain multiple external text structures, such as:

    • Underlined words

    • Headings and Subheadings

    • Illustrations (graphics, images, maps, diagrams, etc.)

    • Italics/Bold Text

    • Definitions (within text, usually in parentheses, or in the footer or margin of a page)

    External text structures can help you read and understand informational (or expository) text. The following chart lists some commonly used text structures, their format and their purpose:

    External Text feature


    Purpose–How does it help me read and understand the information?

    Table of contents


    This provides me with a list of information included in the text.


    Headings and Subheadings

    I can read a brief phrase that tells me what information I will find in the paragraph below it.

    Bold or italicized words

    Bold or italicized words

    These words are important terms that I must be able to define so I can understand the information.



    A picture, graph, or chart that provides me more information OR arranges the information in a visual format so I might understand it better.

    To help you understand how internal and external text structures are used together, the following chart lists informational (or expository) writing assignments and the internal text structure and external text structure/feature that could be used when completing them:

    Writing Assignment

    Internal Text Structure/External Text Structure


    Chronological Order/Timeline

    Report about a country or state


    Article for a school newspaper about a school related question or issue

    Problem and Solution/Chart

    Report about a life cycle


    Essay about how something has changed over time, such as clothing styles

    Compare and Contrast/Pictures

    Article about the effects of a new law or important news event

    Cause and Effect/Subheadings, Definitions, Italics

    Using Graphic Organizers:

    Cluster/map/web – creative writings, just to come up with ideas for your essayFlowchart – chronological essays
    Venn Diagram – comparing and contrasting (what goes in the center?)
    Listing – coming up with ideas

    Outline – coming up with ideas and organizing your essay by paragraph

    4.2.2: Internal Text Structures is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?