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Skill Overview

What is print structure?

Print structure refers to the various types of print used to express language, such as a letter, word, sentence, capitalization and punctuation. Spacing, including indentions, are also print features because they indicate where words and sentences begin and end and also where new paragraphs start.


What tasks should students be able to demonstrate to indicate mastery of this skill?

  • Distinguish between a letter, word, or sentence

  • Recognize spaces between words

  • Understand the purpose of indention for new paragraphs

  • Explain the function and use capitalization and punctuation 


Why is understanding print structure important to reading?

Print structure helps students grasp that words are made up of letters, that sentences are made up of words, and that words carry meaning communicated through sentences. Spacing indicates where words and sentences begin and end, and indentions indicate how related but different thoughts are communicated in a single text.  Capitalization and punctuation help the reader know where sentences begin and end, understand the expression the author is using, and aid in fluent reading.

What diagnostic can be used to determine if there are deficits in understanding concepts of print?

Structured Literacy Tools

Sequential and Cumulative

Systematic and Explicit

To Mastery

Students demonstrate mastery of print structure by their ability to independently and accurately identify the various structures of print when prompted by the teacher.

Print structure can be taught as soon as children are exposed to print.  As children begin learning letters, they are primed to recognize those letters individually and within words. From here, students are ready to explore all of the structures of print, with the exception of indention. Indention is a more advanced print structure appropriate for students who are reading more complex texts with paragraphs.

The Concepts of Print continuum below organizes the cumulative progression of teaching students about how text and print works.

Modeling is the best way to teach print structure. Some strategies to use when teaching print structure are: 

  • —When teaching a new letter, teach both the uppercase and lowercase letter. After explicitly teaching the letter’s name, sound, and proper formation, model when uppercase letters would be used by writing a sentence beginning with that letter or by using the names of students.

  • —Point out uppercase and lowercase letters in books.

  • —Have students find letters in isolation and find letters within words. 

  • Have students count words in a sentence. Discuss the function of the punctuation mark and what our voice does with each type.

  • Point out the spaces between the words.

  • For older students, show students how indentions are used to show how related but different thoughts are organized in text.

Practice Resources

Downloadable Files From BRI Resources
Downloadable Files From Literacy Partners
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