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Intermediate Reading Course. Section 3: Interpreting the Message

Analyzing the Writer’s Perspective | Overview

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When you read, you generally focus understanding elements such as identifying the topic, the main point the writer is making, the information you need to learn from the text, and so on.

However, a deep understanding of the text requires you to interpret the writer’s message beyond just “the basics.” You must detect and interpret various elements in the text that reveal the writer’s perspective.


These elements include the writer’s purpose for writing, tone and attitudes, and biases. When you interpret these elements, you gain insight into the writer’s intentions and understand why the writer chose to write the text in a particular way.

Overview of the Elements Revealing the Writer’s Perspective

Purpose for Writing

The writer’s purpose refers the writer’s reason or motivation for writing the text. For example, if the purpose is to educate you on a topic, the writer will include definitions, factual information, lists of things you need to know, and so on. On the other hand, if the purpose is to persuade you about something, the writer will also include a logical argument to lead you to accept the writer’s position.

Point of View

We all have individual experiences and beliefs. These shape how we view certain topics. A writer’s point of view affects how the writer approaches the topic. Writers do not always tell you what their point of view is, but you can tell by analyzing how they treat the information in the text.

Tone and Attitudes

We can feel generally positive, neutral, or negative about a topic. This tends to determine our tone when we write about a topic. The tone also reveals our attitudes.

For example, if a writer feels very angry about a topic, the writer’s tone may sound angry, indignant, resentful, and so on. At the same time, the writer may reveal a negative attitude, which is reflected in the text. In contrast, if a writer feels very positive about the topic, the writer’s tone and attitude will be quite the opposite.


Our experiences and beliefs also influence our biases, or tendency to view topics in certain ways. A good example of a bias is how parents view their own children. As a generalization, we see our children as smart, creative, and somehow “special;” however, we do not have the same positive bias toward other people’s children. As a result, when our own children behave a certain way, we see such behavior positively. If someone else’s children behave the exact same way, we may see the behavior as neutral or we may even be critical of them.

Detecting the writer’s biases helps us interpret the information in the text because the writer’s biases influence the perspectives and the information that the writer chooses to present in the text.

Putting it All Together

These elements of the writer’s perspective do not happen in isolation. For example, your experiences shape your point of view on a topic. You may then have a negative, neutral, or positive attitude towards it which, in turn, affects your tone. Your experiences and beliefs also affect your biases, which affect everything else.

When analyzing the text, you must detect and interpret all of these elements in the writer’s perspective. Also keep in mind that you bring your own perspectives into reading, which affects how you read and understand the information.

Up Next: Let’s Go Deeper into Interpreting the Message

In the next few pages, we will get deeper into the writer’s purpose, point of view, tone and attitudes, and biases and see how we can improve our reading comprehension by detecting and interpreting these elements.

Go to the next lesson to learn about the writer’s purpose for writing.

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