Functional writing is the kind of writing that aims to convey a specific and direct message to a particular audience. It differs from other types of writing, such as creative or academic, and includes several different areas.

Available texts include lists, letters, instructions, recipes, postcards, brochures, and more.

Functional writing is an important skill to teach from a young age, as it allows learners to express information mirrored in real-life. Through practicing practical writing, learners will develop skills that can be applied to a wide range of real-life situations that will be used into adulthood. These include resume writing, making lists, and writing letters.

When teaching functional writing skills in the classroom, try and relate learning to activities that learners will be doing in their daily lives. This prepares children for future life skills and develops skills that will be useful in other areas of their education, both within English and Literacy and beyond.

Functional Writing Tips

When writing a functional text, you should:

  • Consider the audience and what you are trying to achieve.
  • Tailor your language based on the type of text.
  • Write with purpose.
  • Use concise and clear language.

Functional Writing Styles

There are three main types of functional writing: expository, descriptive, and persuasive.

  • Expository style – This functional writing aims to explain something objectively, without emotion. The goal is to inform the reader about something or explain something; an excellent expository text should be clear and easy to understand. Examples of this are recipes and party invitations.
  • Descriptive style – This style of writing depicts something straightforwardly. An example would be a diary entry describing events, places, things, and feelings in depth.
  • Persuasive style – This is a text that is trying to convince the reader to do something. This could be buying a product or voting for something/someone.

Examples of Functional Writing

  • Posters and leaflets – Posters and flyers are used for various purposes. They can notify readers of an event or persuade them to do or think something. For example, it could be a poster for a music festival, which conveys information about the event, such as the date and time, while trying to convince readers to buy tickets. You could also use posters and leaflets to convey a political message – using persuasive writing to persuade the reader to support an argument or vote for something/someone.
  • Informal letters – An informal letter is used when writing to friends and family and is a more chatty way of writing. This type of letter would be inappropriate in certain situations, such as reporting to your manager or someone you don’t know personally.
  • Formal letters are used to contact or inquire about a person or group. Formal letters have many more rules than informal letters, with strict formatting, beginnings, and sign-offs.
  • Postcards – Similar to an informal letter, postcards are used for contacting people personally close to you. However, they are only used in a specific situation – telling people what you’ve been up to while on holiday!
  • Adverts are a specific form of persuasive writing that tries to convince readers to buy something. They can come in many forms, from posters to TV adverts. Standard linguistic features of adverts are alliteration, exaggeration, direct questions, and concise descriptions.
  • Shopping lists – This is a list of items used during a shopping trip to remember things to buy.
  • Recipes – This instructional text includes information about the ingredients, equipment, and steps involved in baking/cooking something. These are expository and should be objective.
  • Book reviews – Book reviews convey the writer’s opinion on a book and share your thoughts. These are subjective and should not be presented as fact.
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