What Is Writing Style? (Easy Guide for Beginners)

Writing style is essential to great writing but it isn’t always easy to understand.

What is writing style?

A writing style is a distinctive way of using language. There are six main writing styles: expository, descriptive, reflective, persuasive, personal, and narrative. Each writer creates their own style based on voice, personality, tone, language, and grammatical choices.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about writing style.

What Is Writing Style? (Detailed Definition)

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Desk with notepad, cell phone, and potted plants—What Is Writing Style
Image by the author via Canva—What Is Writing Style?

In literature, writing style is the purpose and intention of a piece of writing (i.e., to inspire, motivate, change minds, convey information, etc).

It is also the unique way an author communicates their thoughts through their language.

Writing style is:

  • How the writer and reader interact with a given text
  • The grammar decisions writers make
  • Spelling and punctuation
  • Sentence structure
  • The rules of a certain genre
  • The expression of identity in writing
  • The specific literary devices an author uses

Therefore, writing style is a term that can refer, simultaneously, to particular aspects of a person’s writing practices and to a certain type of writing.

Types of Writing Styles

There are six major writing styles: expository, persuasive, descriptive, narrative, personal, and reflective.

Each writing style is used for particular purposes and intended for a particular target audience, which dictates how an author structures their work.

A single piece of text could include multiple writing styles.

Expository Writing

Expository writing is a style of writing that is focused on providing clear and detailed information on a particular topic.

Unlike other writing styles, such as narrative or persuasive, expository writing is generally less engaging and more factual and informational in nature.

The goal of an expository piece is to educate the reader by presenting objective facts and details about a given subject.

This type of writing uses formal language and typically involves the reporting of experiments or research findings, the exploration of historical events, or the application of theoretical concepts.

Often, an expository piece will also include scholarly support in the form of citations from external sources such as academic journals or books.

These can help to reinforce key points and ensure accuracy in terms of describing any methods or results.

Uses of Expository Writing

Historically, expository writing was primarily considered an academic type of writing.

However, today you’ll find it everywhere on the internet, including marketing blogs and informational content instructing readers on how to master various kinds of tasks.

For example, you’ll find expository writing used in:

  • “How-to” or “explainer” articles
  • Help center articles
  • FAQ pages
  • Textbooks
  • News stories
  • Essays
  • Reports
  • Work emails
  • Recipes
  • Writing for business or technical purposes
  • Materials for training
  • Contracts

Regardless of its use, this style strives for objective representation and relies on technical accuracy in order to effectively convey meaning.

2) Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing is a style of writing that is designed to convince readers of a certain point of view or stance.

This type of writing uses facts, data, and logical arguments to support its position, while being careful to avoid overly emotional or subjective language.

The goal of persuasive writing is to compel the reader to change their perspective on a given topic.

A related goal may be for the reader to then take appropriate action as a result of their changed thinking.

There are several key features that characterize persuasive writing. Perhaps most importantly, it focuses on one specific argument or idea that is clearly stated right from the beginning.

This helps readers understand what the writer wants them to believe.

In addition, persuasive writing often includes specific examples or data points that help strengthen the argument and build credibility with readers.

Furthermore, it often includes various rhetorical techniques such as tone shifts and call-to-action statements in order to increase its impact on readers.

In summary, persuasive writing requires careful planning, thoughtful execution, and clear messaging in order to effectively influence readers’ opinions and actions.

Uses of Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing is typically used in nonfiction and is nearly not used at all in fiction.

Here are use cases for persuasive writing:

  • Essays
  • Op-eds
  • Presentations, speeches, or debates (speech writing)
  • Copywriting designed to convert
  • Writing for sales purposes
  • Cover letters
  • Letters of recommendation

3) Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing is typically used in fiction, but you can also use it in nonfiction (blog posts, books, travel guides, or memoirs).

When a writer uses a descriptive style, it is like painting an image in the form of words.

The word painting can feature an individual, place, or object. The writer may employ metaphors or other literary techniques to convey their impressions through the five senses (what they feel, hear, smell, taste, or feel).

However, the writer does not tend to convince the reader of anything or explain the situation.

They merely describe it.

Uses of Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing is typically utilized in creative writing and may be combined with narrative writing to create scenes and settings.

Sometimes, it is used in formal writing to convey an idea in greater detail or to help the reader feel emotionally attached to the narrative.

Here are examples of how you could use descriptive writing:

  • Songs or poems
  • Fictional plays or novels
  • Copywriting
  • Journal or diary writing
  • Product descriptions
  • Narrative nonfiction

4) Narrative Writing

Narrative writing is a storytelling form of writing. It often has a plot, conflict, and characters. Narrative writing is written from various points of view.

In the first-person point-of-view (POV), the narrator uses “I” throughout the story.

For example, “I went to the bank” or “I swam the canal.”

The narrator is usually the main character, or protagonist, of the story. The second-person point of view can also be used in narrative writing, but this is less common.

In second-person point of view, the narrator is talking to the reader and using “you” throughout the story.

Third-person point of view can also be used, but this is more common in other forms of writing, such as expository or persuasive writing. In the third-person point of view, the narrator serves as an outside observer of the story.

This means that the narrator uses “he,” “she,” or “it” throughout the story.

Uses of Narrative Writing

Narrative writing is typically employed in creative and fiction writing.

However, you can use it in nonfiction writing to make your content more authentic and appealing to the readers.

For example, you might utilize narrative writing in:

  • Novels or novellas
  • Short stories
  • Memoirs
  • Creative essays
  • Blog posts and articles
  • Poetry
  • Feature stories
  • Anecdotes
  • Biographies
  • Speech writing
  • YouTube or video scripts

5) Personal Writing

Personal writing is characterized by an intimate, straightforward, personal style.

This writing style communicates the writer’s beliefs, convictions, and ideas in a profoundly intimate fashion. It conveys a unique, significant message from the writer, and usually employs personal stories or experiences.

In personal writing, the text is written in the first person with a casual tone.

Use of Personal Writing

Autobiographies fall under personal writing as they present the personal feelings and experiences of the writer.

Other uses of personal writing include:

  • Assignments
  • Diaries
  • Email messages
  • Text messages
  • Social media posts

If you’re interested in writing a memoir or autobiography, we wrote a good article on how to write an autobiography over here.

6) Reflective Writing

Reflective writing is a form of writing that allows us to look back on our lives and experiences in order to gain new insights.

Whether we are reflecting on our past actions, what we have learned from certain events, or how those experiences shaped the person that we have become, reflective writing can be a powerful tool for self-awareness and growth.

There are many different forms or types of reflective writing.

At its core, reflective writing can take the form of journaling or free-writing, in which the writer simply spends time reflecting on the events or experiences that have unfolded in their lives.

This can be done through verbalizing thoughts or ideas as they come up, or through the use of writing prompts that help to guide the writer’s reflections.

Additionally, other forms of reflective writing include response essays, narrative essays based on personal experiences, and more.

Uses of Reflective Writing

You can utilize reflective writing in many areas of study, work, or daily life.

Here are common uses for reflective writing:

  • Application for jobs
  • Appraisals
  • Written feedback
  • Blogging
  • Therapy
  • Research
  • Academic writing
  • Shadow writing (very interesting application)

Here is a video that talks about the different writing styles:

YouTube video by Miaacademy—What Is Writing Style?

Writing Style Examples

To better understand writing styles, I included this section with lots of writing style examples.

I strongly encourage you to read through all of them to really grasp how each style is applied in different scenarios.

Expository Writing Style Examples

Example #1:

Technology and scientific advancements have made the utilization of eco-friendly energy possible.

Where climate conditions allow, it is possible to harness solar power or wind power for energy. The term solar energy refers to the utilization of sunlight to produce electricity and energy. Humans can harness the sun’s power by installing solar panels in their homes or work areas.

Humans have also come up with methods to tap into the energy of wind through wind turbines that harness the energy of wind. Both forms of eco-friendly energy are being utilized more and more.

Example #2:

Every creature has its own unique place in the Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) universe, and the D&D Dire Weasel is no exception.

These are usually small, but ferocious predators, with powerful claws and sharp teeth that can easily take down prey much larger than themselves. They are also highly intelligent and cunning, making them dangerous foes for even the most experienced adventurers.

Although they are not typically considered a major threat, Dire Weasels can be a deadly danger if they are encountered in large numbers or in groups with other, more powerful creatures. For this reason, it is always wise to be prepared when venturing into areas where these creatures may be found.

2) Persuasive Writing Style Examples

Example #1:

An excursion to Switzerland is an unforgettable trip that you’ll not forget. It offers beautiful scenery, fun, and sunshine. Make your reservations today for your next vacation.

Example #2:

My education and experience make me an ideal candidate for the position. I am experienced in teaching interpersonal communication lessons, and I also have experience directly teaching this course using your institution’s platform.

3) Descriptive Writing Style Examples

Example #1:

The sunset bathes the sky in deep ruby red.

Example #2:

With cars backed up for miles and drivers angrily tooting their horns, the traffic seemed to be in a constant state of clogged chaos.

Volumes of exhaust fumes wafted into the air along with clouds of smoke from overheated engines, making the atmosphere thick and heavy. Drivers jostled for position, weaving in and out of lanes as they impatiently tried to inch their way forward. As if that wasn’t bad enough, relentless rain poured down, creating treacherous driving conditions that made it nearly impossible to see.

Overall, the scene was one of frustration and disorder, a perfect representation of the term “clogged traffic.”

4) Narrative Writing Style Examples

Example #1:

She hears a raspy voice just before the shadow moves across the balcony. Hesitantly, she takes a step forward.

Example #2:

She looked over her email with a glimmer of hope. Please, please, please be positive news. The message sat in the customary bolded unread, teasing her from within her email inbox. Bad news or good news? She was unsure. She knew only one option. With trepidation and hope, she clicked the link.

5) Personal Writing Style Examples

Example #1:

When I was nine years old, my parents bought a new smart TV.

The new machine’s soft buzzing enthralled me. As they fell asleep the next night, I couldn’t control myself. I watched it all night. Of course, I passed out right in front of the TV. My parents found me sprawled out in the living room the next morning.

Example #2:

It was my first date with John, and I wanted everything to be perfect.

I had spent hours picking out the perfect outfit and agonizing over my hair, but as I looked at my reflection in the mirror, I realized there was one important detail I had overlooked: my nails. I stared at my hands for a moment, trying to decide what color would send the right message.

Red might be too bold, but a nude polish might seem bland.

Are there nail colors guys love? After a moment of indecision, I decided to go with light pink. It was romantic without being over-the-top, and it complimented my outfit perfectly.

As I finished getting ready, I couldn’t help but feel a little excited.

6) Reflective Writing Style Examples

Example #1:

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I started college.

It feels like only yesterday that I was moving into my dorm room and meeting my new roommate. But in many ways, it feels like a lifetime ago. I’ve grown so much over the past year, both as a person and as a student.

I’ve made new friends and learned new things, and I’m really starting to feel like an adult. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come.

Example #2:

The day I lost my father will always haunt me.

It was a beautiful summer day, and we were at the beach having a picnic with some of my dad’s old friends. He seemed happy, smiling as he talked and laughed with everyone around him.

Then it happened–out of nowhere, he collapsed onto the sand.

I rushed to his side, screaming for help as I tried to rouse him from unconsciousness. But it was too late. He had died right there in front of me, leaving me utterly heartbroken.

The pain of that day has never really gone away.

Even now, over 10 years later, I still find myself overcome with grief whenever I think about what happened.

As time has passed, though, other feelings have emerged as well—anger at myself for not doing more to save him, guilt for not realizing how sick he was, even gratitude that he was able to enjoy that last summer with us before his illness took over entirely.

There are days when the grief is so intense that it feels like a physical weight on my chest.

But through it all, there is also a fierce determination to continue living my life and cherishing every moment that I have left with my loved ones.

Final Thoughts: What Is Writing Style?

I highly recommend experimenting with different writing styles—even blending them together into your own personal recipes.

That’s a remarkably good way to find and develop your own writing style.

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UNC Writing Center