Style, Tone & Voice: What’s the Difference?


Having a unique style, tone and voice behind your content can make all the difference to your brand and your image.

While the terms might seem interchangeable, understanding the difference between style, tone and voice will give you much more control over your content and the way your brand and messages come across.

Although there’s no one transcendent definition of Style, Tone and Voice, the following is how I view them and how I utilise them in my writing:

STYLE

In writing, Style often refers to the mechanics behind the writing. Style is about how you say it, rather than what you say. 

It is the technical choices you make about your content and the form of expression you choose to communicate your information.

  • What words and phrases will you use or avoid? (Diction)
  • How will you structure and create your sentences? Will they be flowing and descriptive or short and punchy?
  • What writing conventions will you use or challenge in your content?
  • Will you use easy-to-understand vocabulary or will you include jargon?

Style has its roots in grammar and language and it is often seen as the way in which your words come together to create a particular rhythm or effect. Style can be casual and conversational or it can professional and formal.

What does Style do?

  • Style impacts your tone and also contributes to the overall voice of your content and messaging
  • Style influences the reader’s impression of the information you are conveying
  • Style fits in with the certain context you are writing in (e.g. writing for the web is entirely different to writing an academic paper)

TONE

Tone is all about attitude. It’s the perspective or point of view that you adopt in relation to your subject. Tone usually comes across as the effect of your entire work (e.g. an article, a web page), rather than something that should be attributed to individual phrases or sentences.

For instance, two different brands or people might write a piece on the latest local council developments. Although both pieces might contain the same information and use a similar writing style, one might take on an enthusiastic tone, while the other may adopt a more critical or negative tone.

When it comes to writing your own content, you should choose a tone that will create the kind of reaction you want in your reader. Do you want to make them excited, angry, passionate or empathetic? Do you want to keep them in suspense or push them to act, to support a cause or challenge an idea? Or do you simply want them to be entertained, informed or enlightened?

Your Tone should be tailored to suit your target audience and the situation in which you will be writing.

What does Tone do?

  • Tone defines your attitude as a brand and how you feel about certain topics
  • Tone creates mood and atmosphere; it can do this in any form of writing, but is of particular importance in fiction writing
  • Tone also creates emotion in your target reader and invokes a particular type of response

VOICE 

Finally, we come to Voice. Voice is the personality behind your content – and thus, the personality behind your entire brand. It’s what makes your brand or content unique and defines your image.

Your Style and Your Tone should work together to create your desired ‘brand’ Voice.

A good way to think about Voice is to imagine your brand/business as a real person or a character. What would their personality be? What would they sound like if the spoke? What would their style be? What emotions would they create in others?

While fiction writing is more reliant on the writer’s own, personal voice, copywriting is about creating that voice using specific stylistic and tonal choices.

What does Voice do?

  • Voice defines what / who your brand is – it’s your brand personality
  • Voice determines your presence and position in the marketplace and usually defines how you are seen by others
  • Voice brings uniqueness to your business and determines how your audience interacts with you

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Style is the technical or mechanical choices behind your writing
  • Tone is the attitude or effect your writing has on the reader, which also leads to specific emotions and responses
  • Voice is the culmination of style and tone, and the personality or character behind your brand

Are you unsure about the Style, Tone or Voice of your content? Do you want to change it? Contact me and I may be able to help!

Return to: www.nataliesutherlandwriter.com

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