The key difference between linear and nonlinear text is their reading path. In a linear text, a reader can make sense of the text by reading sequentially, from beginning to the end. However, in a nonlinear text, the reading path is nonlinear and non-sequential; thus, the reader can choose his own reading path.
A reading path is the path or the way the reader’s take through a text. There are two paths as linear and nonlinear texts depending on this reading path. This article explains these two reading paths, providing examples to give a clear understanding of the difference between linear and nonlinear text.
What is Linear Text?
Linear text refers to traditional text that needs to be read from beginning to the end. Here, the reader makes sense of the text according to the grammatical and syntactic arrangement of the words. Moreover, this type of text has an order or sequence; it’s typically the author of the text who decides the order of the text, or its reading path. Generally, texts printed on paper are considered as linear texts. Novels, poems, short stories, letters, educational texts, all those texts we read from the beginning to the end, are linear texts.
Linear text is the most common type of reading. It is the traditional method of reading we are taught as children. However, linear text or linear reading is not always advantageous; it may prove disadvantageous when you are in a hurry and need to find some information quickly. This is because reading a linear text involves reading the whole text from the beginning to the end, and it may take a considerable amount of time to find the specific information you need.
What is Nonlinear Text?
Nonlinear text is the opposite of linear text. As its name suggests, it is nonlinear and non-sequential. In other words, the readers do not have to go through the text in a sequential manner in order to make sense of the text. This type of text has many reading paths since it’s the readers who decide the sequence of reading, not the author of the text.
There are many definitions of the term nonlinear text. Most people consider texts with visuals or graphs along with it as examples for nonlinear texts. Some examples include flowcharts, charts, and graphs (ex: pie chart, bar graphs), graphical organizers such as knowledge maps and story maps. In fact, any text that is not read from beginning to the end falls into the category of nonlinear text. For example, consider an encyclopedia or a telephone directory. We do not read them from beginning to the end; we skim through them to obtain the specific information we need.
It is also important to note that digital texts or electronic texts are also nonlinear texts. These texts offer an array of constituents such as mobile and immobile pictures, hyperlinks, and, sound effects. Here also, the reader can choose his own path of reading. Let’s consider this article itself as an example; if you only want to know the difference between linear and nonlinear text, you can skip reading all this text and click “Side by Side Comparison – Linear Text vs Nonlinear Text in Tabular Form” in the content to directly access the differences. Here, you are creating your own path of reading. This method of reading helps the readers to access specific information they are searching more efficiently.
What is the Difference Between Linear and Nonlinear Text?
Linear text refers to traditional text that needs to be read from beginning to the end while nonlinear text refers to text that does not need to be read from beginning to the end. As their names imply, linear texts are linear and sequential while non-linear and non-sequential. Thus, there is only one reading path in linear texts, which is determined by the author. However, nonlinear texts can have multiple reading paths depending on the readers.
To understand the difference between linear and nonlinear text clearly, look at some of the examples of both reading paths. Some examples of linear texts include novels, poems, letters, textbooks, etc. In contrast, flow charts, knowledge maps, digital texts with hyperlinks, and encyclopedias are some examples of nonlinear text. Furthermore, non-linear allows readers to you to find specific information more quickly and efficiently.
Summary – Linear vs Nonlinear Text
The difference between linear and nonlinear texts mainly depends on their reading paths. Since linear texts have a sequential order, they have only one reading path. However, nonlinear texts have multiple reading paths since they are non-sequential.