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The Text Level

We have said that the information/end-focus principle tells us to place new and important information at the end of a clause, and to start the clause with information that our reader/listener already has.

This example of a ‘mini-text’ illustrates the point.

Empty info new, salient info Known info new info
There was a car parked outside our front door. It was a yellow convertible

If we follow the information principle, we help our readers process our messages. It also explains why the majority of clauses in running texts start with a definite noun phrase, which, by definition, refers to something already talked about, cf. it above.



When we write longer stretches of texts, e.g. well-written paragraphs, catchy advertisements, coherent argumentation, we have to pay attention to the reader’s need



  • to grasp the main topic of our text
  • to understand the coherence between our sentences
  • to follow the logical progression in our argumentation
  • do take in our conclusion

The ideal outcome is that the reader is moved by our story, convinced by our arguments, persuaded to take our advice, etc. as the case may be.



The following simple table presents the over-arching organising principles of text production.


It must be added, though, that texts vary tremendously, depending upon their genre, audience, subject-matter, etc. This break-down shows the conventional structure of an argumentative text. It is still a very useful yardstick. When you know how to organise a conventional text, you can start experimenting with alternative structures.

TYPE
STARTMIDDLEEND
Text

Introduction

Topic sentence for the entire text-addresses the writeing task at hand

Body

A weighing of arguments for and against the writer's position on the issue

Conclusion

A clearly stated conclusion that follows from strength of the arguments

Paragraph

Topic sentence

First sentence: presents the topic of the paragraph and how it relates to the general topic at the next level

Elaboration

Supporting material that develops, illustrates, defines the topic of the paragraph

Rounding-off statement

Material that makes the writer's position on the topic of the paragraph quite clear

Sentence

First element

Refers to something already talked about, typically a person/thing introduced in the sentence before

Core

Material that tells the reader more about the first element

Final element

Gives the new information that brings the text forward

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