Genre of Encyclopaedia Entries

Warm up

What kind of text is an encyclopaedia?

What is its purpose?

What makes it different from other texts?

Activity 1

Read the Tiger encyclopaedia entry.

  1. What are three facts you learn about tigers?
  2. How is this text written? What is the tone? Why is it written in this way?

What three words best describe the tone and style of this text?

You might have described the style of writing as: formal, neutral, informative, clear, unbiased, factual, simple

Next, we will see how discourse structure and features of register create these effects.

Activity 2

The discourse structure of the text is made clear through the main heading (Tiger) and subheadings (Appearance, Where they live, Diet).

Why does an encyclopaedia use these headings?

So that the reader can find the information they are looking for as easily as possible.

Along with discourse structure, the text uses register or language features to create a clear, informative tone. Read the text again, and highlight any phrases or constructions that help create this effect.

For example, phrases like 100 births, 9 feet, many types of forest are all examples of numbers and quantifiers. These are used to give precise, factual information.

Next, you will match more examples from the text with the correct terminology.


Each statement below explains the use of a grammatical feature from the previous activity. Read each statement and decide which grammatical feature it matches with before revealing the correct answer with by clicking the buttons 1-4.

Stative verbs used in the present tense, these verbs describe the way something normally is or behaves in general, rather than describing ongoing or specific actions.

Modal verbs and adverbs are used to express degrees of certainty or frequency and show that there is some possible variation in the information.

The passive voice formed by using the verb 'be' plus a past participle, these expressions can shift the focus of a sentence, and are used to create a neutral tone.

Expanded noun phrases are used to add extra information to a person, object or thing. This expansion can take the form of pre- or postmodification.

Read the text again and find one more example of each language feature.

This entry is taken from an online encyclopaedia.

What features show that this is an online text?

What is the purpose of these features?

Hyperlinks which connect to other encyclopaedia entries

Numbered hyperlinks that connect to the references at the bottom of the page.

Activity 3

Find the Wallaby Notes on the hand out.

Transform these notes into an encyclopaedia entry using the discourse structure and register features we have noted. You will have to add words to make complete sentences.

When you have finished, compare with a partner and explain your choices. Finally, you can compare with an actual encyclopeadia entry for Wallaby, such as from Wikipedia.


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