Difference Between Formal vs Informal Writing

Difference Between Formal vs Informal Writing

Although the two writing styles are often mistaken for one another today, we are going to help you finally get to the bottom of the difference between formal and informal writing so that you are confident about how to effectively use each type as part of written language going forwards.

It is easy to blur the lines when considering this subject. When we dive into the description of each writing type, you will soon see that they are both quite different from one another.

It is also safe to say that using one instead of the other could also lead to disastrous results in certain scenarios! Read on for everything you need to know to be able to separate these writing formats and appropriately use them from now on.

Definition of Formal Writing

Formal writing is a writing style typically used for formal and professional purposes with a very set structure and tone.

Although it is safe to say that when you are comparing formal vs informal writing styles you are definitely going to see some similar sentence structures and words, it is very unlikely that you will see certain elements of one being used as part of the other and vice versa.

What makes formal writing so different from an informal style is that it features words and language tones that would be entirely out of place in an informal setting.

For example, when you are speaking in a formal tone, you are writing in such a way that every word and sentence features only “official” and “correct” professional terminology for every word and action you describe.

It could also be said that you are describing everything in a very literal, factual sense. In contrast, an informally written piece of work or literature would include everything from slang words to relaxed sentences.

To help summarise the difference between informal and formal writing styles, you could almost picture one language style (formal) as being the manner in which a doctor or school teacher might present information to you, while the other would be the way that your friend would present it.

An informal tone typically omits formalities and presents information in a much looser, more relaxed structure. Formal writing is presented in the opposite fashion.

Definition of Informal Writing

Informal writing is any form of writing where information is presented informally and for a casual or personal reason as opposed to for a professional reason.

As we can see by the above description, a formal vs informal tone largely revolves around the context in which each one is typically used. Formal writing is almost never featured as part of a casual or personal setting whereas it is almost exclusively used for professional information communication.

Informal writing is the opposite in that it would typically never be used in a formal setting and is only used as part of a personal, casual setting in a conversational fashion. In fact, if it were, this could lead to dire consequences as it may be viewed as entirely inappropriate!

Although both writing formats can be used to communicate using language, it is important that they are used as part of the appropriate social framework in order to ensure that the information recipients receive the information in the manner they would expect based on the social context.

Main Differences Between Formal vs Informal Writing

We will now summarize the key differences between these writing styles in a quick reference table.

Basis of ComparisonFormalInformal
ToneOfficial and preciseRelaxed and conversational
Words and sentences usedVery structured with correct punctuationLess structured with some slang words and abbreviations allowed
Sentence lengthTypically longerTypically shorter
Typical perspectiveThird personFirst person

Difference Between Formal and Informal Writing: Conclusion

We hope that you now feel completely confident about being able to use either writing style as part of written communication from now on. As long as you remember to use formal writing in professional and business settings and informal for personal and relaxed communication, then it is unlikely that you will ever mix the two up again. When used in the correct settings, these structures are the most appropriate way to deliver written information in the relevant context.