Prescriptive text characteristics types and examples

Prescriptive text

The prescriptive texts are those that include regulations (such as laws) or instructions (if manual or recipes). A text written in this way does not pursue literary or aesthetic purposes, and is sometimes considered by some scholars as “non-texts”, in the sense that its intention is not to enrich the language or to produce pleasure in the reader. Prescriptive text characteristics types

The first and last purpose of the prescriptive texts is to indicate how to carry out an activity and send a message as clear and concise as possible, without the possibility of confusion or mistake on the part of the reader.

Characteristics of the prescriptive text

You can set several characteristics of this type of text:

They regulate something or set standards

The communicational purpose almost always determines the structure of the texts. In the case of prescriptive text, the fact of wanting to regulate or induce a reaction in the reader causes it to be written in a particular way.

The language

The language used will be simple, and the appellative function, habitual. The appellative function is the one that demands direct attention from the reader, waiting for a reaction (“read, reader”, “follow the instructions”).

This appellative function can be seen in elements such as the use of the imperative mode of verbs (make, take, get, place, etc.), the vocative (you, you, you) and the infinitive mode (put, adjust, cook).

It also uses technicalities specific to the subject matter, be it legal, kitchen, mechanical, etc.


The prescriptive text makes use mainly of simple sentences, always trying to be as clear as possible to achieve the greatest effectiveness. Put aside complex linguistic constructions in favor of simplicity.

Verbal constructions with the impersonal particle “se” abound, generating the idea of ​​greater objectivity and detachment.

Prescriptive text types

Basically, the types of prescriptive text are two: the normative and the instructive , collecting in both that communicational intention that was mentioned before. The normative and instructive texts always try to influence the receiver in one way or another, generating actions in the case of the instructive ones, or behaviors, in the case of the normative ones. Prescriptive text characteristics types

– Normative texts

These types of texts establish norms and order the world, so to speak. They regulate the actions of people, constituting a starting point of behavior.

An example of a normative text is, precisely, a legal text that establishes the rules of a contract, or the rules of games – backgammon, chess, dominoes – and sports.

Structure of normative texts

Since it can be adapted to the situation, the structure will be different depending on what is to be regulated. The most common are the legal texts, contracts or explanations for award calls, among others, which will detail the different factors that may influence the reading and understanding of it, and consequently, its compliance.

These factors that should be mentioned are, broadly speaking, the following: who is the text or law addressed to, who approves it, who applies it and is in charge of enforcing it, its objective, what rules it raises and what sanctions they are established in case of not being fulfilled, and the date.

Each normative text, depending on its nature, will have sections, subsections and specifications to explain its objective, and for this it will use titles, topics, sections and articles.

Characteristics of normative texts

As prescriptive texts, they will have a concise and objective language. Verbs are in the present indicative, but they are also usually conjugated in the imperative, in the conditional, or in the future. Many times they are in the infinitive.

On the other hand, the particle “se” appears regularly, and they can follow a logical or chronological order.

Normative text examples

A normative text can be composed of a single order or norm, or of many. An example of this can be a sign: “No smoking in this space.”

Another example could be the rules of coexistence of a school, in which each actor or “social entity” must comply with certain regulations. In this way, the students of the school have a section where they are indicated what they can or cannot do, as well as the teachers, the administrative staff and even the parents or representatives will have their attributions. Prescriptive text characteristics types

The clearest examples are the Decalogue, the Bible , the Koran , the Talmud , and similar books that want to regulate human behavior.

– Instructive texts

The instructive texts are those that present indications, instructions (and that is why they are called like that) to do something.

Structure of the instructional texts

The structure in this type of text is typical; there are no arguments and no problem is posed. In general, the structure is presented as follows:

There is an introduction in which you can set the objective or goal of the text. A development, which is not such but rather an action program, the phases that must be followed to reach the objective.

Lastly, there may or may not be a closure. If there is one, it is generally indicated to do a test (for example, if it is the assembly of an electrical appliance).

Characteristics of the instructional texts

The language is clear and even more concise than that of the normative ones. The issuer, that is, the person who writes or dictates the instructions, has technical capacity, and therefore speaks properly.

The sentences are short, direct, as if it were a dialogue with the reader: “take the screwdriver and put the screws in the right place”.

The verb tense is the present indicative, but the infinitive and the imperative are also common. The order is chronological, since the intention is to get from point A to point B, and temporal linguistic markers such as “first”, “later”, “next”, etc. abound.

Graphical aids , arrows and numbers, also abound to indicate the sequence, and are often supported by drawings, diagrams, illustrations, or photos.

Examples of instructional texts

The classic example is the kitchen recipe. Already in the title the objective is established, which in this case would be the recipe itself (example: “Mushroom soup”), and the content will develop everything that is needed to make a mushroom soup, from the ingredients to the way of do it. Prescriptive text characteristics types

Another example is the manuals: for construction, assembly of electronic devices, furniture, etc.

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