Scarce work has been done in the analysis of the composition of conserved non-coding elements (CNEs) that are identified by comparisons of two or more genomes and are found to exist in all metazoan genomes. Here we present the analysis of CNEs with a methodology that takes into account word occurrence at various lengths scales in the form of feature vector representation and rule based classifiers. We implement our approach on both protein-coding exons and CNEs, originating from human, insect (Drosophila melanogaster) and worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) genomes, that are either identified in the present study or obtained from the literature. Alignment free feature vector representation of sequences combined with rule-based classification methods leads to successful classification of the different CNEs classes. Biologically meaningful results are derived by comparison with the genomic signatures approach, and classification rates for a variety of functional elements of the genomes along with surrogates are presented. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.