Types of Writing Styles Explained

Ideally, we all want to sit down, start writing and complete our article, paper, or blog post in a couple of hours – or at least in a time frame that we can predict. However, most of the time, it doesn’t work out that way. It’s easy to get distracted, feel like our thoughts aren’t being conveyed very well, or worst of all, get writer’s block. While there is no perfect way to overcome all those roadblocks, there is one way to make sure you set yourself up for success. Plan your publications and make sure you choose the right writing style.

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Table of Contents

  1. What is a Writing Style?

  2. The Difference in Personal and Business Writing Styles

  3. What are the Different Types of Writing Styles

    1. Persuasive Writing 

    2. Narrative Writing

    3. Expository Writing

    4. Descriptive Writing

  4. Summary

What is a Writing Style?

The right writing style helps us convey our message more clearly. There are different structures and techniques for each type of writing, and each requires a different skill set. You can determine your writing style by looking at who your readers are and what your purpose is. The four main types of copywriting include: persuasive, narrative, expository, and descriptive. There are times when you may use two or three different types of writing style in publication in order to further emphasize your point. Your speech may be more persuasive if you add a narrative story to evoke emotion from the audience. 

In order to pick out the right writing style for your text, you will need to find a specific purpose first. The writing style will help shape your outline with its defining features. We’ll explore these four different styles of writing below and take a look at how they can be used the most effectively.

The Difference in Personal and Business Writing Styles

The first step in selecting your writing style is to determine whether you are writing for a business or personal purpose. Business writing should be clear and concise without jargon or abbreviations. Write for a public audience with a clear goal in mind. A good way to gauge whether your writing is easy to understand would be to use the Gunning Fog Index. It’s a readability formula that looks at average sentence length and the percentage of difficult words used to find the grade level the writing is at. Writing where sentences are shorter with simpler concepts scores higher than those with longer, convoluted sentences. The ideal score for business writing would be around a seven or eight. 

Personal writing, on the other hand, comes in all shapes and sizes. It has fewer restraints and can be written informally since readers are usually more familiar with the writer. Sometimes the lines can be blurred between business and professional. For example, in social media writing, where the purpose is to create a connection with your followers and a more personal writing style would be more appropriate.

Persuasive Writing

Just as the name implies, persuasive writing is meant to convince readers of a certain belief or position. It’s mostly used in academic papers or as speeches in debates. It’s not subjective and includes a lot of the writer’s personal opinions. Persuasive writing is an extremely useful skill whether you’re in school or writing for business. However, in order to be well-written, persuasive writing should be justified with evidence or research like: 

  • Statistics that come from studies or research

  • Informational evidence that comes from books and other primary sources

  • References or endorsements from subject matter experts

  • Personal experiences, but they should be used in conjunction with other types of evidence to be more objective.

Persuasive Writing Uses

  • Argumentative essays 

  • Cover letters

  • Advertisements

  • Recommendation letters

  • Reviews

Narrative Writing

Narrative writing pieces are often longer and used for storytelling. Elements that make up narrative writing include a plot, characters, a setting, conflict, emotion and most of all, a message. Narrative writing can be used in factual writing to make it more relatable for readers and to immerse them into the story. While in fiction, narrative writing serves to convey the story and helps create the plot. With this writing style, there’s always a beginning, middle, and end, similar to the way a movie would play out. The purpose is to bring your character through a conflict or an experience and take them through to the resolution at the end which often includes a message. Narrative writing often includes dialogue between characters which isn’t present in other styles of writing. 

Some skills needed for narrative writing include plot organization and the ability to elaborate on events and create suspense. Good narrative writing should evoke emotion and all five senses of the reader. 

Narrative Writing Uses

  • Books 

  • Short stories

  • Speeches 

  • Presentations

  • Creative Essays 

  • Personal Statements

Expository Writing

An easy way to remember what expository writing is that it contains the word ‘expose’ or explains concepts and facts. It’s the most common type of copywriting and can be used in a variety of applications. When writing in this style, always try to answer the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. Avoid any confusing language and explain ideas as if a person is hearing it for the first time. Since expository writing is meant for explaining facts, it should be as objective as possible without any personal opinions or emotions. 

The main elements to include are definitions, explanations, facts, or statistics and also evidence to back it up. Expository writing can be written in a professional tone or even casually as an informative blog post. An easy example for expository writing, would be this page or even just answering “What is writing style?”.

Expository Writing Uses

  • Textbooks 

  • Research Papers

  • Academic Essays

  • How-To Articles

  • Technical Writing 

  • Training Materials

Descriptive Writing

Rather than conveying an idea or persuading your audience, descriptive writing is about immersing your readers in your writing to evoke emotion or thought. It can describe people, places, things, or experiences with details that will help readers envision the scenario. Descriptive writing is most successful when readers are able to paint a picture in their mind and it appeals to their five senses. Similes, metaphors, and analogies can be used to effectively replace the excessive use of adjectives. We recommend using specific adjectives and verbs that will better portray your story as opposed to general adjectives that are more open to interpretation. 

Practicing descriptive writing can help improve your communication skills as it increases your use of diverse vocabulary. 

Descriptive Writing Uses

  • Short stories 

  • Poems 

  • Memoirs 

  • Screenwriting

  • Journals

  • Travel writing


Now that you’ve read about all the different styles of writing, the next step is to publish on Issuu. Try some of Issuu’s interactive features to make your publication stand out even more like our Article Stories feature which can turn your long-form content into social-friendly posts ready to be shared in minutes!

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