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A Quick Guide to Textual Analysis – Definition & Steps

Published by at August 16th, 2021 , Revised On August 29, 2023

Textual analysis is the method of analysing and understanding the text. It includes the close reading of fictional texts, images symbols, and all forms of written literary texts. A researcher needs to look keenly at the text to identify the writer’s context and its message.

What is a Text? 

  • A text can be anything from which you can extract any meaning or information.
  • A text can be a written book, records, journals, newspapers, magazines, ornaments, objects, emails, or transcribed conversations.
  • It also includes analysing events, places, videos, images, or movies to get in-depth knowledge about its creation and purpose.

Why do we Call it a Text?

You might be thinking, why don’t we call it a book, video, or magazine? Why do we call it a text?

The word text means the post-structuralist approach to thinking about the development of meaning.

The Purpose of Textual Analysis

The purpose of your textual analysis depends on the object of your analysis, such as:

  • Analysis of a video or movie may aim to determine the target audience, dialogues, cinematography, visual and sound effects, and the message conveyed through his work.
  • Analysis of texts and short stories focus on the language, narrative, choice of words, imagery, perception of the writer, and organisation of the text.
  • You can analyse a monument based on its architectural history, stories related to it, and visitors’ navigation.
  • You can analyse images in terms of the photographer’s creativity, use of a camera, sense of selecting locations, skills of capturing images, etc.
  • You can analyse paintings in terms of their artistic level, use of colours, perception of the painters, the message hidden in the image, etc.

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Textual Analysis of Cultural and Media Studies

A researcher uses videos, social media content, newspapers, maps, buildings, advertisements, and images. Textual analysis plays a key role in the fields of cultural and media studies. A researcher aims to analyse, interpret, and analyse the controversial issues and messages embedded within the text and tries to connect them with other texts or events.

These kinds of texts are analysed from the following aspects:

  • Content of the texts
  • Language and word choice
  • Location
  • Elements of creativity
  • Target audience
  • Association with other texts or events

It focuses primarily on the creative and qualitative approach of the text. A researcher identifies the context and hidden message of the text.

Textual Analysis in the Social Sciences

It includes the textual analysis of the interview transcripts and surveys, and other media, including TV programs, chats, social media content. It takes a quantitative approach to measure the characteristics and organisation of the text. You can measure the text’s repetitions, types of colours displayed, tone of the speakers, etc.

Content analysisthematic analysis, and discourse analysis are the most frequent ways to analyse these texts.

Literary Text Analysis

The literary text analysis is breaking a text’s structure and content into smaller parts to seek in-depth understanding. A researcher It includes stories, poetry, plays, novels, plays, and books.

Also read about: Correlational research, a comprehensive guide on its types with examples

It focuses on identifying:

  • The association between various individual texts.
  • The similarities between the concepts of the two separate texts.
  • The relationship between the texts and political, social, aesthetic, economic, or religious contexts.


Frequently Asked Questions

Textual analysis examines written, visual, or spoken material to uncover layers of meaning, themes, and patterns. It dissects language, structure, and context to reveal how elements convey messages, ideologies, and cultural insights, often contributing to a deeper understanding of the content’s significance.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.