Functional Texts: Definition, Example, Types & Characteristics

Functional texts: are written to help readers perform, or function, in their daily lives. These specialized texts provide information and directions to help a reader. For example, if you purchase a new DVD player, it comes with a manual that outlines the necessary steps for hooking it up and using it correctly.

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

Thus, they are texts that provide instructions or guidelines for the recipient in relation to some activity, action, or task. But what are its fundamental characteristics? And its functions and utilities? How can they be classified? We will answer these and other questions through this article.

Functional texts: what are they?

Functional texts are those that, as their name indicates, fulfill a specific function; that is to say, they are texts that are addressed to the recipient of the message in a direct, clear, and concrete way, and have the mission that he/she performs a specific action.

Through this type of text, we guide the recipient of the message in the execution of said action. Beyond this guide, sometimes functional texts also provide the recipient with the materials they need to perform the action in question (which is the action we want to see or “get”).

The language function that predominates in this type of text is the appellative function. This function of language (also called conative function) is the one that focuses on the receiver of the message and has to do with the fact that the sender expects some kind of reaction from the receiver. Through it, the sender tries to influence the behavior or attitude of the receiver.

What are they used for?

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

These are very frequent texts in our day to day, and in addition to giving us instructions in relation to any task, they also provide us with indications, recommendations, advice, guidelines, etc., that can facilitate the action or performance of the recipient in the task in question.


Some examples of functional texts are cookery recipes, instruction manuals, formularies of a remedy (vademecum are texts with the fundamental information of a material), informative notes from schools, style manuals, instructions in a written exam, etc.


As we have been able to investigate, functional texts are generally instructional texts (that is, those that instruct us in some activity). What characteristics do they present?

1. Title

Functional texts, as well as instructive texts, always have a title; the title gives us the information as to whether the text we are going to read is simply instructive, or whether it is 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, we can also find subtitles in this type of text.

3. Numbering

Numbering is also common in functional and instructional texts. Normally, these detail the steps to follow when obtaining something (for example, 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 instructional texts, is that they usually present different graphic resources to enrich their content and facilitate their understanding. These resources are vignettes, illustrations, colors, tables, graphics …

However, the text itself is still the most important thing in this type of document, since it is the one that provides the information on what to do.

5. Specialized vocabulary

The vocabulary used is a type of vocabulary that is specialized in the subject in question, as well as being very precise. It may include the use of technical terms.

6. They fulfill a specific function

As we anticipated at the beginning of the article, functional texts fulfill a specific function; that is, they are not purely recreational or entertainment texts.

Types of functional texts

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

1. Newspaper texts

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

2. Advertising texts

This type of text disseminates content that encourages the purchase of certain products or services. The function of language that predominates here is the referential or representative, which is related to some factors of communication such as the referent and the context (that is, 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 be preserved 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 the stories are told, which are represented by different characters and are framed within a historical period or moment.

6. Entertainment texts

Your goal is for the recipient to be entertained, enjoyed, and have a good time. The information that the reader obtains through this type of text is usually not relevant (that is, the objective here is another).

7. Informative texts

Finally, functional texts can also be informative texts, when the sender intends to make known a specific situation to the receiver.

Another possible classification

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

Now we are going to see another one, which divides them into three types: personal, school, and work texts. What does each one consist of and what examples can we find in each group?

1. Personal texts

As their name suggests, they are for personal use. Examples of them are agendas, emails, newspapers …

2. School texts

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

3. Labor texts

Finally, functional work texts are those related to the work or professional environment. Examples are petition letters, job applications, memoranda, etc.

Examples of Functional Texts

1- Tips

The following is an example of a tip or tip for roasting marble:

To make the cake faster, make a vanilla mixture. Divide this mixture into two equal parts and add four tablespoons of cocoa powder to one of the servings. That way you save time and energy.

2- Cooking Recipe

Cooking recipes are one of the most common examples of functional texts.

chocolate puddles


180 g of margarine

130 g of sugar

300 g of flour

150 ml of water

100 g of chocolate chips

20 g of baking powder

1 tablespoon of vanilla essence.


Beat the margarine with the sugar until a creamy mixture is obtained. Sift the flour along with the yeast, removing the pits. Add the flour to the previous mixture.

Slowly add the water and beat until you get a smooth mixture. Add chocolate drops and vanilla essence. Distribute the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 15 minutes at 180 °C.

3- Style Manual

The following is an excerpt from the American Psychological Association (APA) style manual on how to make appointments according to the number of authors:

two authors

When there are two authors, their surnames will be separated by “and”, if published in English by “&”.

– Rosenblum and Kuttner (2010) state that it is possible (…).

Three to five authors

When there are three to five authors, the first time they are cited, they indicate the surname of all. Afterwards, only the first one is cited and et al is added, followed by a period (et al.).

-Reimers, Mckemmish, McKenzie, and Mark (2009) state that this was evidenced in several experiments (…). Reimers et al. (2009) report that it is important (…)

six or more authors

When there are six or more authors, the surname of the first is cited, followed by et al. from the first quote.

– Hameroff et al. (2006) state that microtubules (…)

corporate author

In the case of a corporate author, the organization name is placed instead of the surname. The full name is cited for the first time and the acronym is indicated in parentheses. Henceforth, it is quoted only with the acronym.

According to the National Police (PONAL, 2010) …, homicides (Polícia Nacional [PONAL], 2010).

4- Instructions in a written test

Any type of instruction is an example of working text. Therefore, even the indications in the written tests are texts of this type:

Read the instructions carefully. Select two of the questions presented below and develop them on the blank page.

Each answer should have an introductory paragraph, two or three development paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Minimum 300 words for each answer, maximum 450.

5- Schedules

Although the timetables of educational institutions do not offer instructions, they are functional texts, as they provide information about the place and time when a subject will be taught or an event will be held.


8:00-9:30 Theory and Theory II. classroom 225

9:30-11:00 Music History I. Classroom 232.


8:00-11:00 Piano I. Main Auditorium.

11:00-12:45 History of Art I. Classroom 210.


8:00-9:30 Theory and Theory II. classroom 225

9:30-12:45 Piano I. Rehearsal room.

6- User manuals

Manuals provide guidelines that a user must follow to ensure the proper functioning of a device.

How to install a SIM card in your phone?

Press the home button on the phone for three seconds, until the computer turns off. Remove the battery cover and battery.

Insert the SIM card into any of the slots marked with the words “SIM1” or “SIM2”. Make sure the gold contacts on the card are facing the phone.

7- Phonebook

Telephone directories provide pointers that you may find useful. They not only provide contact information but also indicate the direction in which certain establishments are located.

8- Signaling

Signs and signs present in public and private spaces are examples of functional texts: with few words, they provide precise instructions and indications.

Some examples are:

– Slowly, school district.

– Slow, dangerous curve.

Related:   Neopopularism: characteristics, representatives, and works

– Female bathroom / male bathroom.

– Do not stop. Parking.

9- Flyers

Some pamphlets and brochures are examples of functional text. For example, those that announce the opening of a store.

This Thursday, September 28, 2017, will be the grand opening of Buenos Momentos, your music store. Here you will find everything from sheet music to musical instruments from the best brands. Participate! We wait for you!

10- Memos

Memos, memos, or memos, are functional texts that aim to capture information that must be remembered.

In general, they contain instructions that must be performed by employees of a company, notifications of changes in the organization, reminders of conferences that will take place in the near future, and so on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button