Different Types of Writing Styles

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

In this article, different writing styles are discussed, along with examples of each kind of writing, and ideas of what writing style works best. Read the article and take the quiz!

Introduction to Writing Styles

Chances are you wouldn't meet your best friend by saying 'It's a pleasure to see you today.' Nor would you greet your boss with a nice, friendly 'Wut up?' Instead, you speak differently to people based on their relationship to you as well as the image you wish to portray. In writing, we find our ability to communicate the written word equally dependent on the way we use it. This is what writers refer to as a style.

Just like clothing styles, people can have different shades and still be appropriate for a given set of circumstances. After all, do most offices really care if you wear heels or flats to work, or a bow tie or a regular tie? As a result, there will be many different shades within a particular style of writing. For this lesson, we're just going to focus on the broad themes within different writing styles.

Formal Writing vs. Informal Writing

But why should you even care what style your writing takes? After all, it's the message that's important, not how you say it. In that case, would you particularly trust a doctor who was wearing a ratty t-shirt and ripped jean shorts? Or do you expect a doctor to dress professionally? The same is true with any professional's writing.

A textbook, an example of formal writing

The biggest difference in styles is between formal writing and informal writing. The difference between these two has nothing to do with the content itself, but instead how the message is packaged. Formal writing avoids using first or second person pronouns, so you won't see a lot of 'you's or 'me's in formal writing. It also tends to be very Latinate, meaning that it draws on words that have roots in Latin. This makes sense, because Latin is a much more formal sounding language. If you want proof, think of the difference in ordering a veal chop and ordering a calf chop - the first option sounds a lot nicer. Formal writing also tends to use longer, less common words. Textbooks are a great example of formal writing.

On the other hand, informal writing sounds much more conversational. This lesson, for example, is written in an informal tone. This often makes it easier to read, because it sounds more similar to everyday usage. Also, I've not used a lot of foreign terms. I could say that this gives the piece a certain je ne sais quoi, but that would only confuse some people, so I'd just say that it makes the piece better. As you'd imagine, informal writing avoids foreign phrases used solely for the sake of using foreign phrases.

Thank you note from Rose Kennedy
Thank you note

Other Examples of Style in Writing

Ever get tired of writing that gets lost in pretty language and wish it would just focus on the subject matter? Technical writing gives just the facts with no flowery details. Very short sentences are common in technical writing, which is often used for technical or scientific works. First and second pronouns are rarely used. Sentences are to the point and, if possible, short. Technical vocabulary is expected, and technical writing is a very formal style of writing. In conclusion, technical writing is only about relaying facts. And yes, this paragraph was an example of technical writing.

Business writing is similar to technical writing, but it focuses more on the nuances of a message rather than how to construct something or carry out an experiment. Still, this style avoids all but third person pronouns, and can seem clumsy at times if written by someone without a particular knack for it. Business writing also uses business jargon throughout, but will still sacrifice style for the message.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account