Discontinuous texts characteristics and types

Discontinuous texts

Discontinuous texts are those texts that appear as informational support, where the content does not follow a sequence. Its understanding requires non-linear reading strategies. They are the texts that appear in infographics, maps, diagrams, tables, forms, including invoices, vouchers and other similar documents. Discontinuous texts characteristics with types

Discontinuous texts are part of an image, and give information about it or about a particular topic, more extensively addressed in a continuous text. When maps, tables and infographics appear in continuous text, they offer additional information and serve to provide specific data that is not presented continuously in the text. These texts are called “mixed”.

The word “discontinuous” refers precisely to interrupted, partial, non-linear information, which is completed with images or tabs, arrows and other graphic elements that function as a complement.

Characteristics of discontinuous texts

Discontinuous texts have a series of characteristics that differentiate them from continuous texts:


Unlike continuous texts, which are long and whose information is structured in an uninterrupted way, discontinuous texts are rather short, and aimed at explaining some specific aspect of what is exposed.

2-They are deeply synthetic

This means that discontinuous texts give a lot of information in very little space, so they make use of other elements such as images, tabs, etc. Discontinuous texts characteristics with types

3-Non-sequential structure

This type of text does not follow a sequence in the content. When tables, maps or diagrams appear, the information is about specific points and strictly refers to the content of said graphics.

This information is organized, but not in a sequenced or progressive manner.

4-They require reading skills

The reading competence for discontinuous texts goes through the identification, interpretation and reflection of the information. To understand a discontinuous text, you must first identify that it is a different format (a table, an infographic, a map, chronological axis, etc.).

Then, depending on its content (numbers, statistics, various data, etc.), we can interpret and analyze the information you offer us.

5-Fractional but understandable reading

They are presented, as we have already commented, in various forms: tables and charts, diagrams, maps, chronological axes, infographics, forms, etc., and each one of them by itself can be a whole that does not need further explanation, since its The same structure made of images, graphic elements such as arrows, icons or others, complemented by colors, makes it easy to understand.

Types of discontinuous texts

There is a great variety of discontinuous texts. We will talk about the most recurrent and common.

1-Tables and graphs

They are mostly used in scientific texts, as they iconically represent data and numbers. With them, tabulated numerical information is exposed so that we can visually understand statistics.


These types of texts usually accompany technical descriptions or instructive texts, as a visual aid to explanations of how to build something, installations, assemble furniture or appliances, etc.


The information is organized in rows and columns. Examples of tables can be spreadsheets, order forms, invoices, schedules, etc. Discontinuous texts characteristics with types


They are images that show geographical relationships between different places. There are many types of maps: countries and cities, road maps, thematic maps or so-called mind maps.

The common thread of all is that it shows a certain territory to be able to locate in it certain physical or social characteristics, or their relationship with other concepts (in the case of mental maps).


They are visual representations of a text; Infographics involve narratives or descriptions presented graphically, usually figurative drawings, complemented by arrows that link or direct other concepts.

Infographics are widely used in textbooks, magazines, brochures, web pages, and books; the usual technique is to place images in the center and around them to add information, adding complementary images or not.

6-Chronological axes or timelines

They are the discontinuous texts referring to the timelines of any subject or historical character. They are usually lines of varying thickness, interrupted by the placement of dates or events.

They can be presented horizontally or vertically, depending on the space and the chosen design. Either way, the beginning is sequential: it starts with the oldest date; in the case of horizontal lines, it will start from the extreme left and work towards the right.

In the cases of vertical lines, the beginning of the line (the upper part) indicates the most modern date, that of our present, and as it goes down it goes back in time (this is independent of the way we read in West, which is top to bottom).


Both the format and the structure are precise, directing the reader to answer specific questions according to certain guidelines. They are useful for collecting data and are therefore used by many organizations or public bodies. Discontinuous texts characteristics with types

Examples of forms can be the application forms for Immigration, Finance, visa, medical insurance questionnaires, statistics, etc.

8-Comics and caricatures

Comics are stories that are told graphically, have short texts and function as a whole, they do not need more texts or further explanations. Their main purpose is to entertain and they are massively disseminated; in education they have taken on an important role, since a comic can teach many things and it will be better received by students.

In the same way, the cartoons that are published in magazines or newspapers fulfill the same function of a discontinuous text: complement the information from another point of view, generally humorous or satirical.

9-Advertising texts: banners and posters

These texts are classified as discontinuous because they have the same characteristics; furthermore, they constitute an ideal combination of linguistic (words) and non-linguistic (images) elements.

They are short texts whose purpose is to persuade the receiver (to see, buy, listen), and their elaboration has very varied schemes. Discontinuous texts characteristics with types


They are texts that grant legitimacy or validity. They need the signature of authorized persons as well as institutional stamps. An example can be the certificates of study, or the granting of guarantees.

11-Identity documents: DNI, Passports or driver’s licenses

These documents could be classified as discontinuous texts, since they provide information about people according to specific guidelines and in a synthetic way: in a paper box are the name, date of birth, nationality and address of a person.

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