Quick Guide to Style, Tone, Diction, and Voice

Quick Guide to Style, Tone, Diction, and Voice
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Choosing the right style, tone, diction, and voice is very important for students who write academic papers. Learn more about these concepts with college-writers.com.


Style is not about what you write but how you write. However, your style also influences the content because it affects the way people perceive your text and its meaning. Style includes two main ingredients, which are diction and tone. To write a successful paper, you should choose the appropriate style that will correspond to the purpose of your writing and help your audience understand your message. Don’t switch styles in one paper because, this way, you will only distract your readers from the content.


Diction refers to the word choice. You should choose the right vocabulary depending on the type of your paper and your audience. Many words may have the same dictionary meaning and different implied meanings. A dictionary meaning is also called denotation, while an implied meaning is called connotation. For example, “is not angry” is an expression written using formal diction. Casual diction will change this phrase into “isn’t mad,” while the most informal (slang) form will look like this: “ain’t ticked.”

Some similar phrases may also have positive and negative connotations. For example, positive connotations are “the politician’s stance” and “pruning the bushes.” In this case, negative connotations will be “the politician’s spin” and “slashing at the bushes.”

Keep in mind that some types of diction shouldn’t be used in writing. Avoid vague language and clichés. Don’t write wordy sentences and don’t use complex expressions if they are unnecessary.


Word choice isn’t the only thing you should consider. The overall tone of your writing must fit the purpose of your paper and be appropriate to the audience. For instance, your tone may be subjective or objective, emotional or logical, distant or intimate, humorous or serious. You may use simple and short sentences or long sentences. Successful writers usually use sentences of different lengths throughout their papers.

To choose the right tone, you should think about the context of your writing. For example, when you have a conversation with a friend, you can use slang words and stick with an informal tone. However, if you write an article for a newspaper, the tone will be more formal, while still allowing you to add some humor or informal expressions. When writing academic papers, your tone must be objective, logical, and formal. You should never use slang words in academic papers.

No matter what tone you choose, you always have a certain freedom of self-expression. The main thing is to think of your audience.

Voice vs. Tone

No matter what papers you write, they must sound natural. Write in your own, unique voice. Try to be yourself both when talking to your friends and to a large audience. The tone of your writing will vary depending on the situation but don’t forget that the content should still provide your own thoughts and ideas.

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