WordNet 2.1. define four senses of the noun "text":

Horstmann (2003, p. 594) defines text: "Folge von Sätzen oder sonstigen sprachlichen Âusserungen, die als Einheit betrachtet werden kann" (succession of sentences or other linguistic expressions, which may be viewed as a unity).


Texts are documents or parts of documents than contain verbal or linguistic symbols in a visual form. (As opposed to pictures and other non-verbal symbols, including numbers and also opposed to sound recordings). 

Linguistics has a sub-discipline "text linguistics" which is concerned with kinds of texts and their composition. Togeby (1977), for example, describes seven kinds of texts. 

Belkin & Robertson (1976, p. 201) define: "A text (in information science) is a collection of signs purposefully structured in by a sender with the intention of changing the image-structure of a recipient. Information (in information science) is the structure of any text which is capable of changing the image-structure of a recipient".

Molina (1994) writes about scientific texts:


"Since texts vary greatly in intention and style, and since the problems of language analysis are evident, we shall restrict our attention to a type of text that covers the greater part of scientific production: the scientific text. This has certain differentiating qualities, such as its stereotyped rhetoric structure AMRC (aims, methodology, results and conclusions), together with a particular and highly formal style; the content objectivity, or the harmony with the scientific reality; the use of a scientific sublanguage compared to normal or everyday language; and above all the priority given to what is implicit, that already-known "old" information, accumulated throughout the centuries by humanity thanks to documentary tradition and, consequently, to science itself as a human creation. The fact is that in scientific texts a large quantity of information is usually presupposed, this presupposition being an important factor to be taken into account when carrying out analytical tasks. It is true that the text is a symbol in which what is omitted does not mean a lack of, or insufficient, information but rather a significant reference mark foreseen in the conditions themselves of its semantic existence".

Today are texts sometimes understood in a broader way, including pictures and other semiotic signs that people learn to "read" in a culture.




Belkin, N. J. & Robertson, S. E. (1976). Information science and the phenomenon of information. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 27, 197-204.


Biggs, M. (2004). What Characterizes Pictures and Text? Literary and Linguistic

Computing 19(3), 265–272.


Dahlström, M. (1999). När är en text? Tidskrift för Dokumentation, (2), 55-64. http://www.adm.hb.se/~mad/td.htm


Dahlström, M. (2002). When is a webtext? TEXT Technology - the journal of computer text processing, 11(1), 139-161.  http://www.adm.hb.se/~mad/tt.htm


Europäische Enzyclopädie zu Philosophie und Wissenschaften. Hrsg. von Hans Jörg Sandkühler et al. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, 1990. Bind 4, Side 571-575 og 575-580; Artiklerne "Text" og "Text­linguistik".


Horstmann, S. (2003). Text. IN: Weimar, K. (Ed.). Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft Band 3. 3. neubearb. Aufl. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. (Pp. 594-597).


Molina, M. P. (1994). Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Concept and Practice of Written Text Documentary Content Analysis. Journal of Documentation, 50(2), 111-133.


Renear, A. (1997) "Three (Meta)Theories of Textuality", in: Electronic Text : Investigations in Method and Theory, edited by K. Sutherland. Oxford: Clarendon, pp. 107-126.



Ricoeur, P. (1985). What Is a Text? In Ricoeur, Paul. Time and Narrative. Translated by Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer. Vol. 2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Pp. 105–24).


Togeby, O. (1977). Om sprog. En introduktionsbog. København: Hans Reitzel.

Variants: The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship. Vol. 1-, 2002- .

See also: Document; Literature




Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 16-07-2007