The directive text is the one used to get the reader to do something. That is, it is a text where guidelines and instructions are offered to carry out a certain task. Its purpose is, therefore, to incite the reader to action, and it does so through advice, mandates, proposals, warnings, etc.
Guiding text is that used, for example, in manuals, recipe books, team building instructions, or game rules. Legal texts, that is, laws, can also be considered directive texts since they explain what citizens must do.
Directive texts share characteristics with expository and argumentative texts, with prescriptive and appellative texts. In the directive text, the issuer wants to instruct the reader through steps to follow. This means that the message, as well as the language, should be as clear and direct as possible.
These texts do not seek literary pleasure or innovate any aspect of language. In this sense, we could say that when a directive text is not understood, it is because the message was not transmitted with due clarity. Therefore, its function was not achieved.
Characteristics of the directive texts
In the directive text, the appellative function of language is evident: the issuer addresses the reader directly through the use of the 2nd person verbal, and therefore the mode will be the imperative: “use”, “perform”, “place”, “Read”, “adjust”, “print”.
Infinitive verbs are also common : “to press”, “to add”, “to move”, “to hammer”, and so on.
2-Direct and precise language
As we have already pointed out, the language in which it is written should be as clear as possible, so that the reader can understand the guidelines set forth.
If you want to learn the operation of electronic equipment, for example, the manual will be straightforward: “Press the on / off button. Then press the M key and wait for the display to light up ”.
3-Graphics and images galore
The directive text uses various graphic signs to support the instructions, also images or illustrations. All this in order to further clarify the steps to be followed.
The graphic marks will be dashes, asterisks, numbers or another type of bullet points to indicate the hierarchy of the information.
Structure of the directive text
The directive text is usually presented in two blocks, generally well defined.
1-Part one: exposition
Here the purpose of the text itself is explained, that is, what the content in question is written for. The manuals, the game instructions, and in general all the directive texts, use techniques of the expository or argumentative texts for this.
Through argumentation or exposition, the issuer will detail the objective. You can include background information and any information that you consider pertinent.
As it is addressed to a universal reader, regional idioms will be avoided as much as possible and a standard variant of the language that everyone can understand will be adopted.
2-Part two: instructions
The second part will explain step by step how to bring the above into reality. The language has to be as clear as possible, so that the receiver / reader knows very well what to do and does not get confused.
It will be supported by graphics, images, arrows, so that the explanations given are even more precise.
In general, the issuer will follow an order, which he will have previously explained in the first part. This order can be sequential or chronological (that is, first one thing and then another); a logical order, in which cause-effect relationships are established; or it can also follow an order of importance, from highest to lowest relevance.
Types of directive texts
The manuals are characterized by being short and didactic contents by means of which basic and detailed information on a particular topic is given, and also an orderly explanation of how to access that knowledge is given.
There are different types of manuals: to study, technical (for example, how to build houses, or fireplaces, or modules for agriculture), style, procedures, administrative, etc.
The main feature is that by following the indications given, the user or reader can easily obtain what is offered in the manual.
The instructions are the texts that give guidelines on what to do in a certain subject. For example, the instructions for the games: it explains how it should be played, the characteristics or possibilities of the different plays, how to win or how the pieces are moved (in the case of board games).
Cookbooks are a typical example of this type of text. First, brief explanations of what you want to achieve (prepare a dish) are given, then the list of ingredients and then the step-by-step of the recipe.
Regulations and laws are directive texts, since they explain to the public the appropriate behavior and the laws by which that behavior should be governed. The penal code of different countries, for example, establishes the rules to be followed and, in the event of an infringement, the consequences.
Examples of directive texts
In the writing, he uses a cultured language, away from idioms and colloquialisms. Accentuate capital letters, when they have an accent. The titles of the people will always go down when the name accompanies it, eg: ‘Minister García informed…’.
When in the text it is known who the minister is, and the name is not placed, it will go on high: ‘the Minister also reported…’ ”.
“Rules of the game of chess.
It is a game for two players, with a board in which each one will have 16 pieces of six types. Each piece will have a different movement. The objective is to checkmate the opponent. Checkmate means that the king’s piece cannot make any more moves without being captured ”.
3-To assemble a team
“First, unpack the equipment carefully. Connect it to a power source and turn it on with the Power button. Then press the center key for 10 seconds until the display starts to flash. You will see a message that says that the equipment is already operational ”.
“Article 1. Any citizen is prohibited from entering the premises of Parliament without proper authorization.
Article 2. If a citizen enters without authorization, he will be sanctioned as determined by the authority ”.