Having a good verbal skill set and an effective writing style is important for efficient workplace communication. The more writing styles you're versed in, the more likely it is that you can effectively communicate with distinct groups of people for various reasons. One of the first steps in productive communication is to use the writing style that fits your needs and will connect with your audience the best.
In this article, we describe what a writing style is, share more about the different types of writing styles and give tips for business writing.
Related: How To Improve Communication Skills
What is a writing style?
A writing style is the technique an author uses to share their communication or message with an intended audience. Although each writer's style may differ from another, the audience is an important part of the equation, as it's also necessary to adjust your writing style depending on the purpose of your message and who's reading it. For example, you may use one writing style to persuade a customer to buy your company's product, but use another style to share a process update with internal staff.
Related: Types of Barriers in Communication
Types of writing styles
Explore these four types of writing styles to understand more about them:
1. Narrative writing
The narrative writing style is descriptive and tells a clear story with a beginning, interval and end. Some writers in the narrative style use foreshadowing and flashbacks as tools to engage with their audience, and they'll also use characters and dialogue to tell a complete story. In the workplace, a sales team may use the narrative writing style to give a sales pitch.
You may find writers use the narrative style in:
- Short stories
2. Descriptive writing
Descriptive writing is primarily focused on details of things like a group of characters, a setting or an event. Because the goal of this writing style is to make the reader feel as if they are experiencing the events from the storyline for themselves, you may use metaphors and similes to provide vivid images to the reader. Through this descriptive language, the reader is better able to use all five senses to create a detailed image of the story. Many times, descriptive writings are personal, subjective and short.
In the workplace, an example of a descriptive writing style would be the biographies or autobiographies used to introduce an employee. The descriptive writing style both provides information about an event and it incorporates sensory details into the specifics of the event, objects or things the writer is featuring.
Here are some examples of where you may find descriptive writing:
- Personal journals
- Descriptive passages
3. Persuasive writing
The persuasive writing style is used to convince the readers or decision-makers to believe in the content you've produced. Persuasive writing is grounded in research and logical reasoning, so the writer tries to convince the readers to agree to their views through justification and logical points. This style of writing appeals to the reader's emotional connection and attempts to persuade them to adopt the writer's opinions. As the primary objective of persuasive writing is to sway a reader's thoughts, this style of writing is often grounded in bias.
The persuasive writing style is used in:
- Company brochures
- Opinion columns
- Business proposals
- Cover letters
- Recommendation letters
4. Expository writing
The expository writing style is one of the basic techniques of writing used to inform the reader or describe something to them. This style of writing is based on facts and doesn't account for a writer's personal opinions on the subject. Instead, expository writing answers readers' questions with the figures and descriptions that support the topic. Expository writing also usually follows a logical order, so it's easier for the reader to understand the content and gather the information they need or want.
You may find the expository writing style used in:
- Textbooks and educational articles
- Instruction manuals
- Business, technical and scientific writing
12 tips for improving your business writing
It's important to be able to communicate professionally in your business writing, usually by using straightforward language to share updates, information or a description. Business writing can include internal communication to the organisation's employees or to external customers and clients. Here are some tips to follow to improve your business writing and make sure you're sending a clear and accurate message that the recipient interprets correctly:
Understand your message
Think about the contents of the writing or the message you wish to convey. Consider if you're providing information, persuading someone, giving instructions or elaborating on a negotiation or business deal. If you plan out your writing and know what the message is, you'll be better able to choose the writing style that fits the correspondence the best.
Know your audience
Before writing your message, know who is a part of your audience, try to understand how the readers will respond to your writing and even think about what information they already know or would like to know. This can help you choose the correct style to use and help you form communications that engage your audience the best. For example, depending on the nature of the message, writing to a client about a business deal is generally more formal than if you're writing to a colleague to coordinate project tasks.
Within your writing, present your main idea first. This can save the reader some time and entice them to continue reading the rest of your communication. When writing longer proposals, consider presenting your topic and the proposed solution towards the beginning of the communication so the reader can know exactly what you'll cover in the piece they're about to read.
Create an outline
Divide your topic into a heading and as many subheadings as you need to convey the primary ideas of your writing. You can further divide your subheadings into sections with greater details or data to establish the points you're making. Think about creating a rough first draft to organise your ideas clearly and make it easier for you to write a final document that includes everything you need to convey. Choose words and concepts that your audience will understand.
Fluff is when you have more words than you need to convey a point or to provide the information your reader is looking for. Consider keeping sentences shorter and reading through your communication before sending it to remove any unnecessary words or phrases. For words that add emphasis or help a reader connect more to what you're sharing, take the time to establish if your writing achieves that goal. To enhance the readability of your writing, you can use contractions and action verbs and delete any prepositions you don't need.
Combine different writing styles
If you combine two or more writing techniques, you may be in a better position to convey your message more effectively. If your organisation has a specific style guide, explore the different reports and presentations that others have created to make sure you're staying consistent.
Use figures of speech
You can enhance your writing through the usage of figures of speech, but remember who your audience is and the message you're sharing to determine if these literary devices are warranted or appropriate.
Use active voice
Active voice helps the reader understand your message with ease. Using active voice also provides clarity and assists you in avoiding unnecessary wordiness in your writing.
Keep the writing simple
Using simple language in business writing is helpful to the reader, although you may benefit from the opposite if your audience includes scientists or another group who are used to specific jargon and technical writing. However, for some, the use of buzzwords or industry acronyms can be difficult to understand. Basic words can often explain a concept or information with much greater clarity, which helps your reader consume the information more readily.
Read your writing
Understanding your own writing style from the reader's point of view is crucial. Consider reading your message aloud to find instances of passive voice, long paragraphs, unnecessary words and any spelling and grammatical errors that may affect how much of an authority your audience perceives you to be. Going through this process also helps you identify parts of your message that would benefit from more clarity or evidence.
Proofread and check for accuracy
Taking the time to double-check every detail of your communication is essential. Make sure that every sentence is free of spelling and grammatical errors, and that the details, data, figures and explanatory information you provide are accurate and complete. Proofread the names, places and organisations that you mention in your writing to make sure they are also without error.
Read good writing
It's always a good idea to study the writing of other professionals, like those who have written journal publications. This can help you understand different writing styles more and feel inspired when forming your own communication and honing your personal writing technique.