8 junio, 2024

Discontinuous texts: what they are, characteristics, types, examples

We explain what discontinuous texts are, what their characteristics are, what types there are, and numerous examples.

Map texts are considered discontinuous texts

What are discontinuous texts?

The discontinuous texts are those texts that appear as informative support, where the content does not follow a sequence. Its comprehension 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 are part of an image, and give information about it or about a particular subject, addressed more extensively in a continuous text. When maps, tables and infographics appear in a 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 extensive and whose information is uninterruptedly structured, discontinuous texts are rather brief, and aimed at explaining a specific aspect of what is exposed.

They are deeply synthetic

This means that discontinuous texts provide a lot of information in very little space, which is why they make use of other elements such as images, tabulations, etc.

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.

Said information is organized, but not in a sequential or progressive manner.

They require reading competence

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 in a different format (a table, an infographic, a map, a chronological axis, etc.).

Then, depending on its content (numbers, statistics, various data, etc.), we will be able to interpret and analyze the information it offers us.

Fractional but understandable reading

They are presented in various forms: tables and charts, diagrams, maps, timelines, infographics, forms, etc.

Each of them by itself can be a whole that does not need further explanation, since its very structure made of images, graphic elements such as arrows, icons or others, complemented by colors, makes it easy to understand.

Where are the discontinuous texts?

Discontinuous texts can be found in multiple places. Some of the most common are:

Didactic books. Scientific books. novels. Scientific articles. Internet educational articles. Newspapers. Official government documents. Signs for public places. Signs of private places, such as shopping centers, stores or lines. Brochures.

Types of discontinuous texts and examples

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

chart example

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.


Cause-effect diagram. Diagrams help to see what the steps for building or assembling something are like. Source: VARGUX [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

This type of text usually accompanies technical descriptions or instructional texts, as a visual aid to explanations of how to build something, installations, assembling furniture or appliances, etc.

Comparative tables or charts

Table of barbarisms. Tables organize information in rows and columns.

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

geographic maps

Map of the geographic location of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. Maps establish geographic relationships between different places

They are images that show geographical relationships between different places. The maps are used to orient yourself and know the location of specific places.

Mental maps

Mind maps relate different concepts

These are diagrams with a central theme from which related ideas emerge. They are very useful for memorizing and understanding study topics.


The infographics are accompanied by images and complementary texts

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

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

Chronological axes or time lines

The time line indicates the chronology of a certain historical period or the life of a person

They are discontinuous texts referring to the time lines 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 design chosen. Either way, the start is sequential: start with the earliest date; in the case of horizontal lines, start from the left end and move towards the right.


Sample form to receive financial aid

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 for this reason they are used by many organizations or public bodies.

Examples of forms can be the Migration, Treasury, visa application forms, medical insurance questionnaires, statistics, etc.

Comics and caricatures

Comics are graphic stories

The comics are stories that are told graphically, have short texts and work as a whole, they do not need more texts or further explanations. Their main purpose is to entertain and they are widely disseminated; They have played an important role in education, because with a comic you 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: to complement the information from another point of view, generally humorous or satirical.

The cartoons are an informative support from another perspective, usually humorous.

Advertising texts: banners and posters

Think different is an example of advertising copy

These texts are classified as discontinuous because they present 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.


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

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 box of paper are the name, date of birth, nationality and address of a person.

Themes of interest

Continuous texts.

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