Tone in Writing

What is a Tone of an Essay?

writing toneA tone of an essay is the way it sounds to a reader in general. In most cases, the tone depends on the purpose of your paper; for example, if you criticize something, your tone could be ironic, blaming, or sarcastic. So, whereas words convey meaning, the tone you choose conveys your attitude towards the subject you are writing about. If used properly, tone can be an effective secondary means of expressing your ideas, which can help readers catch all the nuances of your paper.

Common Tones

The most basic difference that can be made regarding a paper’s tone is its formality and informality. However, you might want to go beyond these limits; in this case, check out the following list of tones which you can use to supplement your writing. In particular, your tone can be:

- persuading
- criticizing
- blaming
- ironic
- agitating
- humorous
- inquisitive
- cynical
- instructing
- apologizing
- explaining

and many more….

How to Use Tones Effectively

- Try to avoid the tone that would be anticipated because of your subject.
For example, if you are writing an article about totalitarianism, your tone naturally could be blaming or criticizing, and your readers expect or know this. Hence, you are losing a chance to intrigue and engage them. Approach each subject individually, and think about non-obvious ways to express your opinions about them.

- Be subjective.
This rule does not necessarily apply to all types of papers; many essays require objective analysis and a depersonalized approach. However, subjectivity allows you to make sharp and debated claims which make your writing more “spicy.” Usually, subjectivity can be useful in persuasive essays.

- Be consistent.
You must adhere to your chosen tone throughout the entire essay. The first sentences of your paper usually establish the tone for the whole essay (or book chapter, or paragraph). Avoid changing your tone all of a sudden. If you are writing about a sad event, do not change your tone until you finish the respective scene; the same refers to academic writing—if you criticize somebody’s article, do not insert unexpected humorous or approving comments in the middle of a paragraph. Either leave it for the paragraph where you will introduce points of view opposite to yours, or avoid it.

- Use active voice.
Sentences in passive voice are usually boring and detached; active voice, on the contrary, helps you make your writing more vivid.


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