1. The subject matter of a text or message, as distinct from its form or style. Informational texts tend to foreground content (in contrast to aesthetic texts). Content can only be separated from form for analytical purposes. The idea that content (or thought) precedes form has often been criticized; from a structuralist perspective there is no content before form: see also cloak theory; mould theory.
2. What is denoted, depicted, or otherwise represented: see also denotation; referentiality; representation.
3. (informational content) The information in a message. In information theory this is based on the predictability of letters or digits in a sequence.
4. The meaning of a message. This kind of definition reductively equates meaning with message, implying that meaning can be ‘extracted’ without an active process of interpretation. However, what is meant is invariably more than what is said, and interpreters have to ‘go beyond the information given’ (Bruner).
5. Propositional meaning.
6. The explicit, manifest, or literal meaning of a message: see also manifest content.
7. In the conduit metaphor, ideas, thoughts, or feelings that we tend to talk about as if they were ‘contained’ in words.