Functional texts: types, characteristics and functions

Do you know what functional texts are? It is a type of text where the naming function of the language predominates, that is to say that which refers to the fact that the sender looks for a certain type of behavior or reaction in the receiver through the words.

Thus, they are texts that provide instructions or guidelines to the recipient in relation to an activity, action or task. But what are its main characteristics? What about its functions and utilities? How to classify them? We will answer these and other questions in this article.

    Functional texts: what are they?

    Functional texts are those which, as their name suggests, fulfill a specific function; that is to say that these are texts which they are addressed to the recipient of a message in a direct, clear and concrete way, and their mission is to carry out a specific action.

    Through these types of texts, we guide the recipient of the message in carrying out this action. Beyond this guide, sometimes functional texts also provide the receiver with the materials he needs to carry out the action in question (which is the action we want to see or “obtain”).

    The predominant function of the language in this type of text is the naming function. This language function (also called the conative function), is what focuses on the receiver of the message, and it has to do with the sender expecting some sort of reaction from the recipient. Through it, the sender seeks to influence the behavior or attitude of the recipient.

    What are they used for?

    As we will see below, functional texts seek to instruct the reader in an activity or a task.

    These are very common texts in our daily life, and in addition to giving us instructions in relation to a task, they also provide us with indications, recommendations, advice, guidelines, etc., which can facilitate the action or exercise of the receiver in the task in question.


    Some examples of functional texts are: cooking recipes, instruction manuals, remedy vademecums (vademecums are texts containing the basic information of a material), school informative notes, style manuals, instructions in an exam written, etc. .


      As we have been able to investigate, the functional texts they are generally instructive texts (In other words, those who instruct us in an activity). What features do they have?

      1. Title

      Functional texts, as well as educational texts, always have a title; the title gives us information to know if the text we are going to read is simply informative, or directly a manual (For example an instruction manual).

      2. Subtitles

      Depending on whether the text is very long or very short, and the characteristics of the instructions used, one can also find subtitles in this type of text.

      3. Numbering

      Numberings are also common in functional and educational texts. Usually these detail the steps to be taken to get something (eg assembling a piece of furniture, in the case of an instruction manual, or operating a coffee maker).

      4. Graphic resources

      Another characteristic of functional texts, or instructive texts, is that they generally present different graphic resources to enrich the content of the same and facilitate its understanding. These resources are: thumbnails, illustrations, colors, paintings, graphics …

      however, the text itself remains the most important in this type of documentBecause that’s what provides the information about what needs to be done.

      5. Specialized vocabulary

      The vocabulary used is a type of vocabulary specialized in the subject in question, in addition to being very precise. This may include the use of technical terms.

      6. They perform a specific function

      As we move to the beginning of the article, functional texts serve a specific function; that is, they are not entertaining or purely recreational texts.

      Types of functional texts

      In turn, functional texts can be of different types (These are functional texts as long as they meet the characteristics mentioned above, although these vary from one type of text to another). Thus, the types of functional texts that we can find are as follows:

      1. Journalistic texts

      Journalistic texts fulfill three functions: inform, train and entertain. When they also fulfill the callative function of language and instruct something, we speak of functional journalistic texts.

      2. Advertising texts

      These types of texts disseminate content that encourages the purchase of certain products or services. The predominant function of language here is referential or representative, which is related to certain communication factors such as referent and context (i.e. any factor external to the communication itself).

      3. Scientific and technical texts

      Functional texts can also be of a scientific and / or technical nature; they are objective, verifiable and clear texts. Here too, the referential function of language predominates.

      4. Literary texts

      When functional texts are literary, their mission is to last over time (that is, they are texts that “seek” to preserve for their artistic value). They are addressed to everyone, and communication is established between the author of the text and his readers..

      5. Historical texts

      Through them, stories are told, represented by different characters and framed in a historical period or moment.

      6. Entertainment texts

      Its goal is for the receiver to entertain, have fun and have a good time. The information that the reader obtains through such texts is generally irrelevant (i.e. the objective is another).

      7. Informative texts

      Finally, functional texts too it can be informative texts, when the sender tries to present a concrete situation to the addressee.

      Another possible classification

      We have seen how functional texts can “specialize” in different areas (that is, there are different types). However, this is not the only existing classification.

      Now let’s see another, which divides them into three types: personal, school and professional texts. What is each one and what examples can we find in each group?

      1. Personal texts

      As the name suggests, they are intended for personal use. Examples of them are: agendas, emails, journals …

      2. School texts

      In this case, we find: course notes, concept maps, synoptic tables … Of course, remember that functional texts must always fulfill the callative function of language.

      3. Working texts

      Finally, functional working texts are those related to work or the professional environment. Examples of them are: letters of request, job applications, memoranda, etc.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Cascón, JA and Madruga, JA (1989). Understanding of texts and instructions. Education in the world.
      • Corbacho, A. (2006). Texts, types of text and specialized texts. Journal of Philology, 24: 77-90.
      • Mendoza, N. (2007). Types of texts in Spanish: forms, technique and production. Language and Communication Series, 2007/06, Caracas: IESALC.

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