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Formal and Informal Styles of Writing

If youre a writer, then you know that clients ask you to use certain styles to match their brand. Whether its tone or writing style that theyre seeking, your goal is to cater to their needs. So, what does it mean when a client asks you to use formal writing or informal writing styles?

Heres a scenario: Your particular client asks you to use formal writing for their newest project. This is fine except you are so used to casual writing that you dont know where to start. You try hard to match the new writing style, but submission after submission they reject your work. You are on the brink of giving up, but dont do it.

Today eTXT will dive deeper into the art of formal vs informal writing to help you understand and succeed at giving your client the formal content theyre requesting.

Styles of Writing

What is formal and informal writing?

Formal writing is defined as a piece of writing that is used when you dont know who the audience is, or you know the target audience but havent built enough rapport to know how they will receive certain words and phrases in your message. An informal style of writing is used as a conversational approach. Think of when youre chatting with friends or youre engaged in everyday casual conversation.

When youre using an informal style, you have the freedom to speak to your audience directly with words like you and your. Contractions, abbreviations and short sentences are also acceptable because this style of writing is meant to be personal and have an emotional tone. With a casual writing style, the client wants you to speak to its targeted audience in their language. You can do this by using simple, ordinary language and short sentences. If your words are too complex, youll lose the readers attention and cause them to move on to the next article or ad. The other thing youll want to do is follow up with a call to action when using casual writing. That can be done by using imperative sentences such as try our product today or reach out to our team to learn more about our services. Commands are expected for an informal style.

Styles of Writing

Based on the previous information, it is safe to say that doing any of the above in a formal writing style is not allowed. A formal writing example would be to whom it may concern. Another example of the formal style is one should respect that a business can repossess the collateral if there is a breach in the contract. These examples show no emotion, dont use any contractions and dont address the reader directly by using the third person instead. A client will ask you to use the formal style of writing when they want to present the content for professional, business, academic, or legal purposes. A benefit of this style of writing is the acceptance of passive voice. An informal voice, on the other hand, has to be predominantly active with minimal passive voice. Many people struggle to do this in their writing so the formal style can give you a brief break if the active voice is something you struggle with.

Why does your writing style matter?

Now you understand formal vs informal writing but are wondering why should I care about what writing style I use. Is it even important? Yes, of course, it is! Formal informal writing will give you a better understanding of how the content should be written. It will affect your choice of vocabulary, your tone, the aesthetic such as the length of the sentences and paragraphs, how formal the writing will be, and the reading level. Without knowing the style of writing you will use the content will be inconsistent and could confuse the reader.

Choosing a formal or informal writing style provides other benefits that will not only help you but the clients goals. For example, did your client say that one of their objectives is to build trust among its readers? Using the appropriate writing style will instantly help them achieve that goal. One of the number one reasons why readers lose trust in a brand is for poorly written content. If you use inappropriate language or have too many grammatical errors, the reader wont be able to follow the content, or they will get frustrated and stop reading causing an increase in the clients bounce rate.

Styles of Writing

The writing style can also improve the writer-receiver divide. Eliminating the divide can be difficult, but it is possible by making sure your concepts match the audiences mind frame. A good example is if youre trying to achieve informal writing, but you include statistics and jargon that your reader doesnt care about or understand. When you do this, you cause the client to become vulnerable to losing money. If the audience doesnt find the brands message relatable, they wont use the product or service so its important to speak their language.

What should be written in a formal style?

Unless stated otherwise, there is certain content that should always be written in a formal style. Imagine getting a legal document that used slang and had poor grammar. Would you take the document seriously or the person who presents it to you? Im going to guess that your answer is no. Therefore, you should always use the formal style of writing when the content is serious and has a high level of professionalism involved. Here are instances where you will need to use formal writing:

  • Academic writing
  • Legal documents
  • Business writing

Using a formal writing style in these instances will give you more credibility and decrease the chance of disconnects between the content and readers.

After reading this article, you feel as though you are up to the challenge again. You sit down with your document open and notes about formal style. You read over the article again and again while doing edits here and there. Its two hours later and you think youve finally got it right, so you submit your work to the client. The anticipation of waiting to hear back from them is nerve-wracking. You get the email and to your relief, it says they love the article and it was exactly what they were looking for. Its true, formal writing vs informal writing can be a challenge. However, when you understand who youre writing to, and the rules of formal and informal writing, youll be able to conquer the art with ease.

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