Answered By: Rachel Willard Last Updated: May 02, 2017 Views: 1400
Tone refers to the way a reader “hears” the writer’s voice or the personality that comes through the writing. Writing with good tone requires these steps:
Consider your audience.
Cater your tone to your audience. Scholarly writing generally has an academic audience, so your tone should be professional, informed, and direct.
Be sure to avoid bias in your writing. (See a description on the Writing Center's website of types of bias.) Refrain from giving opinion statements or using emotional or inflated language. Also work to avoid logical fallacies. (View a list on the Writing Center's website of logical fallacies to avoid in your writing.)
Try to avoid conversational language. Words or phrases you would use in a text (SMS) message or in a conversation with a friend should not be used in academic writing. Avoid figurative language (such as metaphors and exaggerations) as well.
Clarify the point of view.
Remember that we, our, us, and you are words that often make false assumptions about your readers and make your work feel too informal, so avoid using them in academic writing. Retain distance in your point of view in order to keep your formality. (See more on point of view on the Writing Center's website.)
Be discerning in your word choices.
Use field-specific language when necessary and relevant, but try to avoid jargon or overly-elevated word choices. Your reader may not be familiar with these words, causing confusion.
Be precise and direct.
Use clear, direct sentences and active verbs. This includes using active (rather than passive) voice and verbs. (View some tips on passive and active verb choices in the Writing Center's blog.)
- Using appropriate tone in writing is complex, so you may find it helpful to view more examples and explanations of tone on the Writing Center's website.
Would you like a current or future assignment to be reviewed by the Writing Center? If so please visit the Writing Center's Paper Review Website and make an appointment with us!
Do you have other general writing questions? E-mail the Writing Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other questions about your doctoral capstone or the Form & Style review? E-mail the Dissertation Editors at email@example.com.
Want to peruse other writing resources? Go to the Writing Center’s homepage.