15 Examples of Tone You Can Use in Your Writing (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The way you write and your choice of words can bring various feelings and emotions to those who read your writing. These word choices reflect the tone of a written piece, like the tone of voice you use when speaking. Understanding tone and how to apply it in writing can help you decide how to communicate with others. In this article, we discuss 15 examples of tone in writing, explain its importance, and provide tips on using it.

15 examples of tone in writing

Here are 15 examples of tone to give you a better sense of what each might look like in your writing:

1. Formal

A formal tone is typical in a professional or academic setting. The text is direct and thorough while maintaining a respectful feel, and it often includes full words with no contractions or other abbreviations. A formal tone does not include slang terms, is grammatically correct, and emphasizes facts rather than opinions.

Example: According to the data presented, the yellow tree frog mates between April and June.

Related: Important Skills Every Good Writer Must Possess

2. Informal

An informal tone is the opposite of a formal one and sounds more conversational. For example, you might write in the same way as speaking to a friend. An informal tone may include colloquial phrases or slang and shortened words, such as contractions. The author of an informal piece may also convey more emotion and personal opinions.

Example: Hey, what's up? I'm writing to see if you want to catch a show after the meeting today.

3. Optimistic

An optimistic tone may often have a positive outlook on the subject, even if it's not necessarily happy. The author may look at the situation with hope or possibility. This tone can also make the reader feel more positive about what they're reading. It's suitable for persuasive writing, making the reader feel more open to the idea presented.

Example: Even though this year has been challenging, I am grateful for our hard work as a team.

4. Pessimistic

A pessimistic tone is the opposite of an optimistic one and generally presents a negative outlook, making the reader less optimistic about the writing. It's typically best to avoid this tone when writing a professional email or message.

Example: This project's not going well. At this rate, we'll never finish on time.

5. Sarcastic

Writers often use sarcasm to inject humour into their writing, but you can also use a sarcastic tone to convey anger or frustration. This tone uses irony by saying the opposite of what you mean. It's not always easy to identify sarcasm in writing, so be cautious when using this tone.

Example: "Clearly, I am a technology expert," Bill wrote in his email after the slideshow screen froze during his presentation.

6. Assertive

Some people assume that an assertive tone is the same as an aggressive one, but they differ. An assertive tone conveys authority and confidence, while an aggressive manner is more angry or sharp. When writing assertively, an author often presents things straightforwardly with little to no room for argument.

Example: We will get through this as a team.

7. Aggressive

An aggressive tone is often harsh and critical. Readers can interpret it as hostile, so ensure you know how your audience might react to an aggressive tone before using it in your writing. Try to use it only when appropriate.

Example: If you don't start working harder, you're going to fail this class.

8. Passionate

When an author is passionate about their subject, it comes through their writing. A passionate tone excites readers and is often used to evoke emotion.

Example: I believe our product can and will make a difference in the lives of each of our consumers.

9. Entertaining

An entertaining tone might be humorous and make the reader laugh, or it might be lighthearted and enjoyable. Ensure your material is appropriate for your audience before using an entertaining tone.

Example: And that's how I ended up covered in paint and with a sprained ankle. How was your weekend?

10. Serious

A serious tone is often sombre, formal, or professional. It's not negative, but it's not lighthearted or humorous. Writers often use a serious tone when they want to convey information directly without distractions.

Example: Due to the current economic situation, we are changing our company's policy.

11. Educational

Writers often use an educational tone in textbooks or other instructional materials. It teaches the reader about a particular subject and is usually direct, concise, and straightforward.

Example: The process of photosynthesis is essential to plants because it allows them to convert sunlight into food.

12. Persuasive

A persuasive tone convinces the reader to agree with the author's point of view and can often be found in argumentative essays or speeches. A persuasive tone can be assertive, passionate, or even aggressive.

Example: You can vote for me because I am the best candidate for the job.

Related: 6 Persuasive Techniques to Improve Your Writing Skills

13. Motivating

Writers often use a motivating tone to encourage the reader to act. It might be inspiring, hopeful, or even forceful and used in speeches or other writing to rally people to a cause.

Example: We can make a difference if we all work together.

14. Tense

A tense tone helps to keep the reader feeling unsure or anxious about what happens next. For example, an author might use it when writing a mystery or thriller and they want to convey feelings of worry and concern. In most stories, a tense tone leads to a resolution when the tone may change.

Example: I frantically searched the room for my keys in the dark. My hands were shaking, and I was worried I wouldn't make it on time.

15. Curious

A curious tone reflects what the author or character wants to learn about a particular topic or situation or prompts the reader to continue to uncover pivotal details. For example, someone might write with a curious tone if they are trying to discover new information, keeping readers intrigued.

Example: What is our greatest strength as a team? How can we complete this project on time?

Why is tone important in writing?

The tone is an essential aspect of writing because it can help structure the overall message. It can also set the mood, influencing how the reader experiences the material and expressing an author's attitude or feelings about a subject. For example, a serious tone might communicate the author's concern about a subject. In contrast, a more optimistic tone might convey that they are not as invested in the material as you think.

Related: Understanding the 4 Writing Styles (And How to Use Them)

Tips for using tone in your writing

Here are some tips for using tone in your writing:

  • Consider your audience. Before you write, consider who your audience is and what they might expect from your writing. This can help you choose an appropriate tone.

  • Use language that reflects your tone. The words you use in your writing can influence the overall tone of your work. For example, using formal language can convey a more serious tone, while being informal can suggest a more lighthearted atmosphere.

  • Be consistent. Once you've chosen a tone, be consistent throughout your writing. This helps create a cohesive piece of work and avoids confusing your reader.

  • Edit your work. Once you've finished writing, take time to edit your work. This helps ensure that your tone is consistent and that there are no errors that might distract from the overall message.

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