What is a Text?

As a college student, much of your time will be spent interacting with texts of all types, shapes, sizes, and delivery methods. Sound interesting? It is. So it’s important to understand what constitutes a text.

The previous page on “How to Navigate this Text” used the word “text” to mean “textbook,” referring to this digital text.  If you glance at almost any page of this textbook, you’ll see different elements of text: words, images, videos. Taken together OR taken separately, all of these things constitute text.  A text is anything that you see, interpret, and assign meaning to.

You might have thought that texts were limited to written materials, such as books, magazines, newspapers, web pages, or blogs. Those items are indeed texts—but so are movies, paintings, television shows, songs, political cartoons, videos, advertisements, maps, works of art, and even rooms full of people. If you can look at something, explore it, find meaning in it, and draw information and conclusions from it, you’re looking at a text.

So know that, although this digital textbook deals primarily with written text – how to read it and how to write about it at a college level – the concepts and competencies you learn can be applied to any type of text.  You’ll learn to interact with text, think about it, and express ideas about it.  The skills and strategies learned here have wide applicability.

The following video offers an interesting discussion of text, which comes from a Latin root meaning “to weave together,” as well as some interesting thoughts about reading text.