Do you want to take your writing skills to the next level? Learn the seven types of writing to exceed with any writing style required for the task.
As someone who makes a living writing for other people’s websites, I’m often asked to adapt my writing style for different audiences and situations. The way I write conveys a meaning that goes beyond the words I use or what I say. Some forms of writing paint a picture, convince someone of something, or focus solely on communicating the facts while backing them up with reliable sources.
Both choosing from the different types of writing and adapting your writing to the requirements of a professor, business, or client is crucial to writing success. Below, I’ll share the different types of writing you need to know and practice to become the best writer you can be.
1. Expository Writing
Expository Writing focuses on providing the facts and research about a given topic. In this writing style, you’ll explore an idea in detail and expand on that idea using factual statements.
When writing an expository essay, you don’t seek to prove a point, persuade, or evoke emotions. Your only goal is to explain something in an objective and balanced way.
Here are some examples of expository writing you’re probably familiar with whether you’ve written them or read them:
- Journalistic articles
- How-to manuals
- Assembly instructions
Can you see how inserting opinion, bias, or emotion into these types of writing could be problematic?
Read our guide to the best essay writing topics.
2. Narrative Writing
In narrative writing, you tell a story that could be 100 percent truthful, primarily factual but embellished for reader enjoyment, or complete fiction. Stories are everywhere around you and provide ample opportunity for you to express your imagination.
Examples of the narrative style include:
- Biographies and Auto-biographies
- Short stories
- Narrative journalism
The journalist Hunter S. Thomspon popularised this type of writing in his articles and essays.
3. Persuasive Writing
In a persuasive essay, your goal is to get the reader to agree with you through strategic argumentation. To accomplish this, you employ a combination of various argumentation techniques like presenting supporting evidence for your argument, laying out points in a logical order that slowly generates buy-in from the reader, and telling a story that evokes emotion to make the case.
Examples of persuasive writing include:
- Advertisements and marketing campaigns
- Cover letters
- Letters of recommendation
- Business proposals
- Persuasive essays
- Persuasive social media posts
- Persuasive journalism
Politicians and tough leaders use persuasive writing to popularize an idea, like Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope.
4. Descriptive Writing
Descriptive writing is one of those types of writing styles and can overlap with others in this list. You can certainly paint a vivid picture in a narrative, persuasive piece, or even business writing. Your writing skills really come into play here are you let your creative writing shine.
One of the most essential concepts in descriptive writing is to “show, not tell”. Rather than simply saying what happened, you’ll explain the how and the why behind it to paint a complete picture. You’ll use numerous literary devices to accomplish this, such as:
In any style of writing, you’ll choose a point of view from which you relate to the reader. The POV you choose can change the tone of the piece, with third-person often sounding more formal and objective, while the first and second can seem informal. You may need a combination of more than one POV for the piece to work. Examples of POV usage:
- First-person – I, We (e.g., Moby Dick, Hunger Games)
- Second person – You, Understood You (e.g., most blog posts, choose your own adventure books, assembly instructions )
- Third-person – He, She, It, They (e.g., Harry Potter, Journalistic Articles )
5. Technical Writing
Technical writing is a style that involves communicating something very complex in a way that the audience can understand. To accomplish this, the technical writer must generally have in-depth knowledge of the topic they’re explaining and an understanding of the audience’s level of experience.
Technical writing is devoid of personal opinions. Rather, it explains something. Examples of technical writing include:
- Research papers
- Legal documents
- Most textbooks
- White papers
- Academic writing
- Medical journals
6. Diary Writing
Diary writing is a more personal form of writing intended to log events in a person’s life and often their emotions. If you think you might be famous someday, then keeping diaries could one day be resource materials for your auto-biography.
That point aside, many people use diaries as an external way to process how they’re feeling to deal with anger, regret, grief, fear, jealousy, and sadness.
Diary writing can also be a very positive experience. People often write about what they’re grateful for, express their joy around fortuitous events in their life, or set life goals and celebrate accomplishments.
Examples of diary writing include The Diary of:
- Anne Frank
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Charles Darwin
- Marie Curie
7. Business Writing
Business writing is a commonly misunderstood type of writing. Many think of business writing as stuffy and formal, but in fact, business writing is whatever your business audience needs it to be. If you’re writing to a business audience, you’ll adapt your writing style to convey the image and message you need the piece of writing to communicate.
With that said, business writing does have some things in common. While it doesn’t have to be formal, it is clear and as concise as possible.
Listen to our interview about writing a business book.
The Final Word on Types of Writing
You have many styles to choose from, but some are more likely to get the job done in certain situations, as you can see above. To become the best writer you can be, learn and practice every type of writing because you’ll find each of them useful, regardless of how you choose to write.
FAQs About Types of Writing
How do I choose the right writing style for a piece?
Always consider your audience. What type of writing do they expect for this topic, publication, situation, or brand? Skilled writers can adapt their style to various situations.
How can I learn to write in various styles?
One of the best ways to learn writing styles is to read examples of them. Notice how the writer grabs your attention, unfolds their main points, and communicates with you along the way. Then practice, and ask someone–preferably a writer–to give you some feedback.
How important is grammar in writing?
Proper grammar enhances communication, while incorrect grammar and spelling can lead to confusion. For some audiences, bad grammar may reflect poorly on your attention to detail or intelligence. Unless you’re intentionally using “bad” grammar as a device to connect with the audience, you should generally avoid it.
Be extra careful about mixing up homonyms, misspelling words, or creating ambiguous sentences. Don’t trust your ability to proofread your own work. Use a grammar and spell-checker like Grammarly, which has a basic version you can use free of charge online. I use it all the time. Other online tools like Hemingway Editor and Yoast Content Analysis can also help you refine your writing skills by pointing out, for example, if you overuse passive tense or adverbs, or long sentences.
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