A typology of English texts

Douglas Biber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

275 Scopus citations


This paper develops a typology of texts in English with respect to a five-dimensional model of variation. Each dimension comprises a set of lexical and syntactic features that cooccur frequently in texts, reflecting underlying shared communicative functions. Eight text types are identified with respect to these dimensions; each type represents a grouping of texts that are markedly similar to one another with respect to their dimension characterizations. Although the linguistic variation among texts is continuous, there are only a few linguistic characterizations that occur frequently, and the text types identified here represent the prototypical groups of texts having these characterizations. The types are interpreted by considering their predominant linguistic features and the general communicative characteristics of the texts grouped in each type, and by performing microanalyses of particular texts. Based on these interpretations, functional labels, such as ‘Informational interaction’, ‘Learned exposition’, and ‘Involved persuasion’, are proposed for each type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-44
Number of pages42
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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