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English - Summary - Analysing Media Texts

Working through an extract

First consider three factors that are common to all texts:

1. Purpose

2. Context - Genre

3. Audience

1. Decide on the Purpose of the text:

This is the reason why someone has written it.

A writer might be trying to persuade you to buy a product.

You may decide that a text has more than one purpose; perhaps to promote a product, to give information and explain how something works, or simply to put across the writer's point of view and to entertain you.

Think about:

What does the text want me to do?

2. Understand the Context & Genre of the text:

This means where the text has come from and of what kind it is.

The source of each document will be given and you should think carefully about it's origins.

Texts from the 'quality tabloids' may also appear sometimes, for example: The Times.

Texts could be any of the following:


Articles from magazines

Web pages







Think about:

What is the theme of this text?

What kind of text is it?

How can I tell?

3. Decide who is the intended Audience for the text:

Any writer will have an audience in mind as they write.

An article in a quality newspaper is probably aimed at well educated adults.

If the extract has simpler sentences and shorter words, it may be intended for a young audience.

If it is advertising a product or promoting an event it will use persuasive language and devices. It may also use ideas that appeal to the kind of person who might buy the product.

An article from a local newspaper is more likely to be concerned with news about local people and events.

Think about:

Who the text is aimed at?

How can you tell?

What to look for in each text:

What is the text About?

This is its subject matter.

Understand the content of each piece.

You need to be able to understand the details of the text and be able to summarise its subject content in your own words, and explain the arguments offered by the author to support a point of view.

You should also be able to decide which are facts and which are opinions.

Look out for quotations from experts, and statistics being used to add 'weight' to the writer's argument.

Who is the text intended for - Audience?

Asking yourself this question will help you to recognise the particular ways in which a text has been created and presented to suit a particular kind of reader.

In your answer you can include a commentary about these features and the style of writing to gain extra marks.

Think about the differences between an article about keeping pets, written for a young person, and a newspaper article about dog training, written for knowledgeable adults.

The style features will include:

The length and complexity of the sentences and paragraphs.

The way the information is presented.

The vocabulary used.

The tone of the article.

The intellectual level of the information and arguments, as well as the different kinds of presentational devices.

How Language is used in the text?

Look in a detailed way, at the use of language in each text:

Start at the top of the text with the title. This often summarises the whole text and may contain a 'play on words'. In 'Erica has it' this comes under humourous. It is meant to attract you to read the text.

The whole text may use emotive language to influence the reader. This may include the use of vivid adjectives. In 'Erica has it' this comes under adjectives.

Now move on to think about the tone of the language in the whole text. Is it friendly and controversial, or formal and detached?

Look through the text to find some examples of metaphorical language such as similies, metaphors, alliteration, onomatopoeia and personification. In 'Erica has it' this comes under imagery, and sound appeal.

You could also think about the ways writers use sensory imagery. Notice descriptions that include how someone feels, what they can taste and smell, or the noise they hear.

Rhetorical techniques include questions that do not require answers, but emphasise the point(s) the writer is trying to make.

Some articles aim to entertain and amuse us and they will use lots of lively and funny imagery. In 'Erica has it' this comes under imagery.

Some texts use short anecdotes to add interest and ensure the reader's attention.

Many adverts, and some newspaper articles, use hyperbole to create effects. This is extreme exaggeration and is eye-catching and often sensational. In 'Erica has it; this comes under exaggeration.

What kind of Presentational devices have been used?

Examine closely the whole text and think about all of the following (and also any other devices that you can see) and the effect they have on the reader:

Illustrations: photos, drawings, maps, cartoons, graphs and plans etc. These add interest and information and attract attention to the text. Some adverts have very little text and rely on images to tell the story.

Short, eye-catching titles, often in very large, bold type faces.

Sub-headings, side headings to highlight items from the text, possibly as 'quotes'.

White space to add impact and emphasis.

Bullet points, numbered lists to make the information clear and easy to follow.

Type faces and font sizes are important, too. Does a particular handwriting-style make the content seem more authentic or sincere?

Colour - can add emphasis and impact.

A logo - this can create a feeling of familiarity and expectation.

Gain extra marks.

Engage closely with the texts, by referring closely to the ideas being expressed - do not rely on just giving your own opinions.

Support all your points with evidence from the text and avoid using additional information from your own experience.

Include some short and well selected quotations from the texts and enclose in single inverted commas.Make sure that they are quoted correctly and are appropriate to support your ideas.

Explain exactly what the writer/author means following each quotation, and how language has been used to create effects in the text.

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