Common types of tone in writing

There are various types of tones that send a clear message about your real-time expressions and gestures when speaking into words.


When communicating in person, there are various expressions and cues that enable you to send a clear message to your intended audience. Similarly, through words, such impressions could be made with the use of appropriate writing tone. 

During personal conversations, the gestures you put across gives an impression on how you actually feel. In writing, that can be achieved by setting the right tone using appropriate punctuations, words and structures.

What is tone when it comes to writing?

“Tone in writing refers to the writer’s attitude toward the reader and the subject of the message. The overall tone of a written message affects the reader just as one’s tone of voice affects the listener in everyday exchanges” (Ober 88).

It’s a simple question, but the answer could be complicated. In basic terms, tone usually refers to how a writer illustrates his attitude, emotions, and personal objectives through words in a specific way to communicate non-verbal observations about specific subjects.

There are certain words, sentence structures, etc. that draw out different types of tones in writing. The different tones in writing all achieve a similar goal in communicating with the target audience. As well, they convey attitude in writing.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

11 Types of Tone in Writing

There are various types of tones which enable writers to better communicate their intent and feelings when writing.

The most commonly used tones are explained below in detail:

1. Formal Tone

This tone has to deal with being focused, straightforward and respectful. It depicts structured Language, the use of full words, higher reading skills and emphasis on facts. This tone is most commonly used from academic or professional standpoints.

Examples:

“Yours Faithfully,”

“I am much grateful for the opportunity given me to…”

2. Informal Tone

The use of an informal tone could be likened to how someone speaks to a friend, the direct opposite of a formal tone. It is conversational, expressive and uses more emotion within the subject material. The structure could be long and chatty or very short in a context given.

Examples:

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Come on man, let’s do this…”

3. Optimistic Tone

In life, a whole lot of bad or unpleasant events are capable of happening and capable of happening to anyone. Even so, there is a belief and sense of hope that even in the midst of challenges, there is always “light at the end of the tunnel”. With an optimistic tone, the writer finds suitable words, expressions and language to convey some sense of hope and give readers aspiration.

Examples:

“Hang in there…you’ve got this”

“He jumped with a broad smile of hope”  

“This too shall pass”

4. Joyful Tone

This tone in writing focuses on the positive sensations. Not only, the emotions that are experienced in the moment of an action. The joy one feels when gets what is expected at a given period. Writers use this tone to create wonderful experiences one would ever want. Relationship building experiences are created between readers and characters.

Examples:

“I always love the feeling of Champion League Matches”

“Wow, this Hot Dog is Yummy!”

“Yay!, Daddy is coming home…”

5. Sad Tone

Sadness is a very real part of human emotions and conditions. In many ways, our saddest state defines who we are as people. When incorporated as a tone in writing, the reader becomes sympathetic with the characters or the author and this empathy will keep them engaged with the narrative.

Examples:

“His looks tells me indirectly he’s sad”

“I don’t feel good about this incident”

6. Worried Tone

A worried tone is one that conveys anxiousness about something that is perceived or unknown. It is capable of making readers afraid or concerned in a given context.

Examples:

“I’ve been outside all night waiting for him”

“I started shivering the moment I entered the dark tunnel”

“I’m still not sure if my final examination answers are correct”

7. Serious Tone

This tone in writing creates a level of concern for important matters to the reader. It depicts their level of increased focus and concentration to a particular concept because of its significance.

Examples:

“I have to finish this assignment today at all cost”

“I don’t joke with my studies”

8. Friendly Tone

A friendly tone shows the characteristics of belonging or allied. In various ways, it elaborates trust and kindness to readers. Depending on the prevailing subject matter, it could have a mix of the formal and informal tones as explained above.

Examples:

“The new guy congratulated me after the ceremony”

“She extended a helping hand during our ride”

9. Surprised Tone

A surprised tone captures the occurrence of an unexpected event. It is capable of explaining sudden feelings of wonder and astonishment.

Examples:

“I got goosebumps the moment I saw him”

“He’s Stunned”

10. Understanding Tone

An understanding tone is achieved in the setting of working with others for a common benefit. The word choices often show collaboration and positivity in a joint or mutual activity.

Examples:

“I’m glad we did this successfully”

“I’d love to hear your thoughts about it”

11. Curious Tone

A curious tone informs readers about the eagerness to investigate or know more about a subject matter. The writing tells the reader that there are compelling details that needs to be uncovered. This tone can be used creatively to keep the reader intrigued about learning more.

Examples:

 “I’m wondering who sent this”

“This perfume is familiar”

How to effectively use tones

Tones can be effectively used to channel the intended expression to the reader by better understanding the context and subject matter of what one is writing. This is usually achieved through thorough research into your content and empathy of whatever that is being written. That way, the choice of words will sound the way you want it to. Not only, proofreading of your own writing could help in better adjustments and checks so that you will feel more confident in what you provide to readers for them to react and engage the way you expect them to in a professional manner. 

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