Main Paratextual Elements and Characteristics in detail

Main Paratextual Elements

The graphic elements are a series of related components to a written discursive production, which accompany its structure without altering its original content and aim to present the why and the different characteristics possessed such written production. Main Paratextual Elements and Characteristics

Paratextual elements, also called paratexts, give the lyrical receiver an idea of ​​what will be found in a written work, but they do not completely define its content. Their role is informative, they seek to capture the attention of readers regarding the texts.

Etymologically, the prefix “para” within the word “paratextual” means “associated with”, “linked to”, “next to”, “next to”, or “around the text” in question.

In addition, paratexts add precision to the process of searching for information on the part of lyrical recipients. This is a fundamental aspect in investigations, where readers need to shorten times and achieve specific elements with precision, without having to delve fully into work.

The referential, organizational and explanatory aggregate that the paratexts add to the written works is of great value. From the pedagogical point of view, it opens necessary paths for the student, generating cognitive links – prior to the actual encounter with the work – that allow a greater and easier assimilation of knowledge. Main Paratextual Elements and Characteristics


If we talk about what we perceive in a text, we can talk about two types of paratextual elements:

– Iconic paratextual elements, associated with photographs, boxes, diagrams, illustrations, among others.

– Verbal paratextual elements, associated with the title, the dedication, the summary, the epigraph, among others.

Now, within the verbal paratextual elements, three types of these can be appreciated in the works:

– Paratextual elements of an editorial nature, belonging to the company in charge of publishing the work and which responds to legal, production and publishing aspects.

– Author’s own paratexts and how he conceived the contents of his creation.

– Paratextual elements of third parties, which are the contributions that people close to the author add to the work. This type of paratext can be seen in the prologue, in the quotations and in the notes.

Main paratextual elements and their characteristics


It is characterized mainly by being the first paratextual element with which the reader is obtained. Due to its exteriority and visibility, it is required to be as explicit and striking as possible.

In literary works such as novels or short stories, this paratextual element is commonly accompanied by graphic and typographic design components that enhance its visual efficacy and, therefore, its scope. Main Paratextual Elements and Characteristics


This paratextual element allows the author of the work to give recognition to those people or institutions that facilitated the development of the work, or are immersed in it. It is located after the title.

It is styled and recommended to be short, and it is usually aligned to the right. It has a purely subjective character because it signifies the space in which the author offers his effort, time invested and results obtained to those he estimates.


This paratext took off from the 16th century on, before it was not customary to place it in works. It is a short phrase that refers to the content of the text in question. It can belong to a recognized author or not, and even to the same writer.

This element is sometimes related individually to the other paratextual elements, as a “subparatext”, to indicate what will be covered or dealt with in that part. It is a communicative micro element.


It is characterized by objectively and briefly expressing the subject matter of the work in question. This paratextual element does not accept the inclusion of positive or negative reviews; it is simply focused on making known in an accurate way what said written production comprises.

Another feature that identifies the abstract is its length and layout. It is customary that it occupies an approximate of half a page and that its length is preferably a paragraph, although subdivisions are also accepted. However, brevity must always prevail.

It is the paratextual element that serves as an introduction to the work. It can be written by the author or by someone close to the work who has had contact with its content and its production process, who is given the honor of doing so.

It is characterized by touching on issues inherent to the organization of the work, the details of its elaboration, the difficulties that it could imply and the performance of its author. It is also about the contents and their value; It is a necessary cover letter.

Its main objective is persuasion, to hook the reader to the work before it even faces the first chapters. It is customary for the person in charge of writing the prologue, also called the preface, to handle a good discursive language, pleasant and simple in order to reach a greater number of lyrical recipients. Main Paratextual Elements and Characteristics

Table of Contents

This paratext allows the reader to be shown separately each of the parts and subparts that make up a work. It is punctual, it allows to specify content and, in addition, to precisely locate the reader in front of the work.

Its breadth and specificity are subject to the author, it depends on him how deep its scope is. It can be located after the prologue or at the end of the work, according to the author’s taste.

Verbatim quotes

This paratextual element fulfills a function of reinforcing the discourse. Through this resource, it is sought to give reliability to a premise based on previous research or proposals by other authors.

This paratext is very common and necessary in works of an investigative nature, not so in genres such as novels, short stories or poetry; however, its use in the latter is not excluded or classified as impossible.

The quote, apart from providing truthfulness to the work, recognizes the work of the researchers or writers who previously spoke about the subject that the text deals with.


This paratextual element is a discursive reinforcement resource outside the text that fulfills a function similar to that of the quotation; however, it is a bit more direct and specific.

It is normally used in texts of an investigative nature to clarify certain incomplete aspects in a paragraph or terms that are difficult to understand, although they are also presented in other literary works such as novels or essays, indistinctly.

They also explain the reason for certain citations, or complement what is referred to in the books where the information of an author named in the work appears.

They can be located at the top or bottom of the page. In certain cases, very strangely, they can be found on the side edges. Main Paratextual Elements and Characteristics


This paratext, very typical of investigative works, allows readers to show the texts that served as a support to develop an investigation, which are shown in alphabetical order by the names of the authors.

In this element, data such as: author, date of elaboration, name of the work, country and publisher are presented. The order of the data may vary.


It is a paratextual element characterized by offering the reader an alphabetized list of terms that, because they are technical or belong to certain dialects typical of some areas, require an explanation to be understood.


This paratextual element presents a duality as it can contain iconic paratexts such as photographs, or illustrations and paratexts of a verbal nature such as documents or surveys. Its purpose is to reinforce and give truth to what was previously stated in the work.


Paratextual elements are a necessary resource for the legitimation of written works. They come to represent to the reader what a window with light does to a dark house.

They are a fan ready to refresh concerns, they are an ideal medium for the message encoded by a writer to reach the reader in a simpler way.

The guiding role played by the paratext in reading breaks down the barriers that commonly arise between the novice reader and the texts, and invites them to immerse themselves in the works. This is perhaps the most important of its functions. Main Paratextual Elements and Characteristics

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