The New Language for Text Type & Genre

21st century classrooms have expanded their definition of text to now include a wider ranger of communication forms. “Text” now includes digital and multimedia forms like graphic novels and podcasts. The new curriculum in my province has dropped the term text types  and replaced it with the term forms.

The Form & Genre of texts

“Every piece of text comes to us both as text – the piece that it is – and a kind of text – an instance of genre” (Bomer, 1995)


Form and Genre are two separate but closely related literary concepts.

If the form is the cup, then genre is the drink that you pour into the cup. The cup provides the structure and shape to hold the drink, and the cup is selected based on the type of drink you plan to have in it. A coffee cup for a latte and a frosted mug for a cold glass of soda.



Form is the type of text, and refers to the format, arrangement or shape.

Form is a much more flexible and fluid word than type, and it invites us to consider the ALL the different ways texts are seen, experienced and produced. Texts can also be changed and adapted into different forms.


I prompt students with these questions:

  •  Ask yourself what is the identifiable shape to this text?
  • What format am I experiencing?
  • How is this text being presented?

Words to Discuss Form

Oral: speeches, poems, plays, oral stories and songs.

Written: Novels, articles, essays, notes, and short stories.

Visual: Posters, photographs, and other images.

Digital: electronic forms of all of the above.

Multimodal texts combine two or more forms and can be delivered via a variety of media or technologies.

For example, oral, written, and visual elements can be combined (e.g., in dramatic presentations, graphic novels, film, web pages, advertisements)


Genre is a term that comes from the comes from the french word meaning:‘kind, sort’. Genre is a dynamic tool that allows us to categorize texts based on similar traits or conventions. 

Genres are ever-changing and evolve over time as cultures develop new genres and discontinue the use of old ones.


Texts often belong to more than one genre category and because of this, it is best to consider genre as helpful labels for communicating rather than a finite classification.