Visual Text Comprehension | 4 Types of Non-Linguistic Features You Need to Know

Hi, everyone! I am Ms Cynthia and it is a pleasure for me to share with you my post on visual text comprehension today. As English language learners, we read and analyse how words are used in texts and derive meaning from them. However, the analysis of words alone is not enough. Many times there are subtleties in the language such as the choice of font where the meaning or intended effect is affected.

I am certain that all of us have come across visual texts such as brochures, webpages and more. Very often than not, we look closely at the words to gather information about the text. However, have you considered the impacts of non-linguistic features such as font size, font type or use of shapes?

Before I go through with you the 4 types of non-linguistic features that you need to know, let’s take a quiz to find out just how well you know the functions of these features!

Visual Text Comprehension | PSEL Quiz


Ms Cynthia would like you to take the quiz above before continuing. Refer to the sample stimulus above to answer the questions!

*Take note that the actual stimulus in Paper 2 is a two-page spread and not a one-page spread as above.

Visual Text Comprehension | 4 Types of Non-Linguistic Features You Need to Know

How did you fare? If you had been able to answer all the questions with ease, fantastic! If you had been unsure of certain questions and the respective non-linguistic features, it is time to read on!

Why are non-linguistic features important?

Compare the 2 posters below. As a reader, which poster would you prefer?

PSLE Visual Text Comprehension Posters

I believe that the majority of you would have chosen Poster A. The non-linguistic features used in the poster help to:

  1. make important points more salient

  2. categorise information for ease of reading

  3. better suit the intended audience

  4. make the poster more aesthetically-pleasing

Overall, the text in Poster A is more enjoyable to read and the information would be more accessible for its intended audience. Now, we will look at 4 common non-linguistic features of a visual text that you will need to know.


a) Use of italics (words are slightly slanted)/ bold/ underline 

Changing the type of font helps to make the information stand out from the rest of the text in a regular font type. 

Visual Text Comprehension | Variation in font

b) Font style

The font style can also be changed to reach out to a different group of audience (in this case children), or even to suit a certain theme.

Visual Text Comprehension | Font Style


By increasing the font size, there is a contrast to the rest of the text. The bigger fonts will capture the reader’s attention more readily.

Visual Text Comprehension | Font Size


Capitalisation is a stylistic choice to make the word(s) stand out. It also helps to bring about a sense of urgency or excitement to the readers. Do note that it should not be used excessively because it may also convey negative emotions such as anger.

Visual Text Comprehension | Capitalisation


You can organise and/or categorise information to make them stand out by arranging them separately or through the use of shapes such as boxes. The use of headings also helps to mark out sections in the text and this makes large chunks of information easier to digest for the readers.

Visual Text Compre | Spatial Arrangement

There you have it! Even though we are used to analysing how words are used in a visual text, questions on non-linguistic features are also commonly tested and are equally important in helping the text to better achieve its purpose and reach out to its audience.

I hope you have gained some useful knowledge. Take the quiz above if you have not done so! All the best!


Visual Text Compre | Non-linguistic features summary

Lil' but Mighty | English Teacher

Ms Cynthia is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. In her 5 years of English Language teaching experience, she has enjoyed guiding her students to explore the literary world and provide them with the tools to unpack and decipher texts. As a teacher who is passionate about the language, she hopes to inspire the children to become creative and critical thinkers who will be ready to face the challenges of the world.