In today's time, communication through mobile phones and other mediums has made it easier for people. However, writing is the oldest and most convenient option for effective communication. No other species carries and utilizes the knowledge in the way that we humans do. The writings include letters, e-mails, books, blogs, websites, etc. Writers express themselves through their writing styles. There are two types of writing skills- formal writing and informal writing.
Formal writing is written to those people who are not known by an individual on a personal level. As the name suggests it includes being formal. Being formal means following social rules, maintaining etiquette, and writing in a short form. Formal writings are kept on records if it is written to formal authorities or professional people. Politeness, correction with grammar, style, choice of words, etc. are kept in mind in these writings.
On the contrary, informal writing is written to those people who are close acquaintances, relatives, friends, family, etc. As they are written to be close and beloved and the one an individual knows personally, it include informal and personal tone. Informal writings are very similar to a conversation. They may also include figure of speech, slang, friendly and relaxed tone, broken vocabulary, and are used in everyday life. The writer often writes in the first person by using I, We, and also addresses the person in the second person by using You, Your.
Formal Writing vs Informal Writing
Formal writing is the form of writing which uses standard English and a professional tone. It is written to professionals and respected authorities for business, academic, job, or legal purposes. For example- writing graduate school assignments. Formal writing has a proper language and is more complex than informal writing. Contractions are avoidable in these writings. Formal writings are long and avoid using shorter versions of the words. It employs a structural approach, proper grammar, and organization of ideas. Formal writing relies heavily on objectives and the main purpose of the writing is less personal with a tone of seriousness.
Informal writing is the form of writing which allows the usage of non-standard English forms with a casual tone. It is written to close ones, family, friends, or relatives for personal or casual purposes. For example- personal blogs, postcards, text messages, etc. Informal writing uses short sentences and has a relaxed and friendly tone. Contractions are acceptable in these writings and grammar rules and vocabulary are ignored. Informal writing employs daily conversations, personal interactions, and digital communications.
The writing style depends on the writing's subject, purpose, and tone. Formal and informal writings serve different purposes. The way the tone of writing is set and the way the writing styles are used vary between the two. Use of grammar, vocabulary, a form of English, and others differ in both cases.
Difference Between Formal Writing and Informal Writing in Tabular Form
|Parameters of Comparison||Formal Writing||Informal Writing|
|Definition||It is a form of writing used for legal, business, professional, and academic purposes.||It is a form of writing used for casual and personal purposes.|
|Tone||Formal writing uses a professional, polite, and impersonal tone.||Informal writing uses a casual and more personal tone.|
|Nature||Formal writing has a declarative and objective nature.||Informal writing has an emotional and relaxed nature.|
|Grammatical Voice||Formal writing employs passive voice.||Informal writing utilizes active voice.|
|Sentences||Formal writing includes long and complex sentences.||Informal writing includes short and simple sentences.|
|Vocabulary||Formal writing uses complex and specialized vocabulary.||Informal writing relies on simple and daily life.|
What is Formal Writing?
Formal writing is a professional type of writing. It is used in businesses, academic publications, job postings, job applications, talking with clients, etc.
Some of the frequent types of formal writing are:-
- Formal Letters- Formal letters are written for official purposes to authorities, colleagues, and professionals. They should contain- the sender's address, the date on which it was written, the recipient's address, a greeting, a message, a farewell, or a sign-off. Examples of formal letters are- letters of complaint, travel reservations, job applications, inquiries about work experience, etc.
- Formal E-mails- A formal email is an email that is sent to a person or a group of people in a formal language. It does not include an address at the top but the greeting and farewell remain the same. In the subject line of the e-mail, an appropriate title is included and a signature or name is mentioned in the last. Some examples of formal e-mails are- thank you e-mails, formal letters of appreciation, letters of complaint, cover letters, reminder e-mails, etc.
- News Reports- News reports are news articles or broadcasts that give information about something that happened. Journalists write them formally and concisely as some news reports may contain bad news and it will be inappropriate to write them in a fun or informal way. It is important to keep in mind that not every article found in newspapers and news websites is news reports.
- Essays- Essays are the pieces of content written from the perspective of an author or writer. They exist to inform and not to entertain. The writers avoid writing essays in personal pronouns like 'I' and 'Me'. Essays may be descriptive, expository, narrative, or argumentative.
- Non-Fiction Books- Non-fiction books are writings that convey information about the real world. They aim at educating readers so they include dates, names, and events with conciseness. Some examples of non-fiction books are- Evil: A Savannah Story, In Cold Blood, The Glass Castle, etc.
Some characteristics of formal writing are:
- Complex Structure- Formal writing uses long sentences to maintain the manner of clarity and conciseness. It has a more structural approach as the points and the content are introduced, explained, and concluded clearly. Formal writings are revised and rechecked multiple times to ensure fewer chances of mistakes or errors.
- Objective Approach- The writer writes the content from an objective approach and states the points clearly by presenting arguments and facts. The writer avoids using emotional tone and emotive punctuation in formal writing.
- Standard English- Formal writings are characterized by the use of Standard English with the formal rules of the language.
- Specific Language- Formal writing uses specific terms in place of general ones. This provides more information and impact to the readers. The writer uses physically concrete language in place of abstract and vague terms for a better understanding of the content.
- Contractions- Contractions are the shorter version of words. Formal writing does not use contractions. For example- in the writings ‘cannot’ is used instead of ‘can’t’.
- Proper Grammar- Formal writings avoid slang, figure of speech, and abbreviated words. Writers use grammar and vocabulary properly and accurately.
- Third person- In formal writings, it is inappropriate to use the first person or second person. Writers use the third person and the passive voice to write the content. This makes the writings quite difficult to read, but it is the correct way of analysing the tone and manner.
Sometimes people make some common mistakes while using formal language in formal writing. One common mistake is using overly complex words and dressing up casual phrases for sophistication. The writer should stick to the standard rules and terms of the writing. Another common mistake is getting too personal or informal. Friendly conversations are not acceptable and should be avoided in formal writing.
What is Informal Writing?
Informal writing is used for writing to friends, relatives, close acquaintances, and people whom we know personally.
There are many examples of informal writing. Some of them are:-
- Comic Books- One of the most fascinating reading stuff for childer who like to read. They have stories and related animated pictures.
- Social Media Posts- This is the content that people share on social media through their account.
- Personal Blogs- A personal blog is an online platform where people share their experiences, thoughts, hobbies, and interests. It is written in the second person and the writer directly addresses the reader. These blogs have a lot of catchy phrases and words and these blogs create a sense of empathy towards the readers.
- Postcards- Made from a thick piece of paper or cardboard, postcards are a personal way to send messages by post. These cards are started with opening informal lines like 'Hello', 'HI’, and ‘Hey’ etc. There is a lack of space in the postcards so they are written briefly and in shortened sentence forms. Postcards have a casual tone.
- Text Messages- Text messages are messages that are composed and sent electronically through mobile devices, laptops, or desktops. They involve a lot of abbreviations and rigid language with a friendly tone. Text messages avoid errors in grammar and vocabulary.
- Anecdotal Articles- Anecdotal articles are articles based on information related to a personal story or an anecdote. They relate to the subject matter that people discuss to share a relevant story. These articles are used in everyday life or literature.
Main Differences Between Formal Writing and Informal Writing (In Points)
- There is an organized structure in formal writing whereas, informal writing has a free structure. You can write as per your own wish.
- Formal writing involves citations and references, whereas no such thing is required in informal writing.
In summary, both the writing style have their own benefits and uses. Formal writing is a better choice for business or academic writing whereas, informal writing is best suited for communication with friends or relatives.