Don’t you take that tone with me, young lady! How many times have we heard that expression in our daily lives?
We often consider the tone that we’re using when we speak to others, but we sometimes forget that our tone—our attitude towards the topic and/or reader—can also be pretty obvious when we write.
To understand the effect that tone can have on your writing, consider what might happen if we attempted to convey the same piece of information using these types of tone:
For Example: In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that the University of Michigan could indeed use racial quotas as part of the law school admissions process.
Considering the previous eight examples of tone, see if you can identify the tone being used in each of the similar sentences below:
- Good luck trying to get into U of M’s law school if you’re not a minority in this country!
- Though the quota system at U of M may deter some white male applicants, it’s important to remember that race is only one factor in the lengthy admissions process.
- The university admissions staff appears to be unaware that our forefathers fought and died for equality within this nation—such deserved equality is not possible within the university’s prestigious law school.
How does tone relate to “audience awareness”?
One of the most important factors in determining the appropriate tone that you should use in your paper is an understanding of your audience.
To gain an understanding of your audience's expectations, try asking yourself the following questions:
- Is your audience familiar with the text/topic?
- Are they educated?
- What is their background? (Where are they from? What is their political affiliation? What do they do for a living?)
- How old are they?
- Do they agree or disagree with your stance on the issue?
All of these factors influence how your audience will interpret the words on the page; therefore, they should influence your tone as you write them.
Remember! Just as you might speak differently in front of the elderly than you might speak in front of your peers, you may have to adjust your tone and possibly the type of information you provide based on the type of audience you expect to read your essay.If you’re not sure who your audience might be, be sure to check with your instructor!
The tone of a persuasive or argumentative essay uses language to attract the readers and audience. Persuasive writing uses logic and reasoning, but it often attempts to engage the hearts,as well as the minds, of the readers through emotional appeals (Connell, & Sole, 2015, Section 7.3). You must be sure the language you use does not offend the reader, but use language to convince the reader. First, remember to use connotative language that has a strong emotional appeal. Second, be ethical in your use of emotion. Do not use emotion or language to make personal attacks on those who hold viewpoints that are different from your own (Connell, & Sole, 2015, Section 7.3). The tone is different because you are not telling a story, but you are trying to get convince the reader to side with your opinion. The tone of an expository essay is different because it does not need emotion, does nottell a story and uses formal language. An expository essay is based on factual information.Expository writing deals with factual information, it should lack emotion. Make sure to useformal language and choose words that have clear, descriptive, no emotional denotativemeanings (Connell, & Sole, 2015, Section 8.1). Expository writing is usually based on serioussubject, which have clear facts, which is very different from telling a story or a convincingargument. A personal, persuasive and expository essay, have a very similar structure. However, apersonal essay will have a clear thesis without argumentative topic, which is different from apersuasive essay. Persuasive or argumentative essays take an interpretive position and make anarguable claim in the thesis statement (Connell, & Sole, 2015, Section 5.4). Personal andpersuasive will have a clear thesis, but an expository essay does not require a clear thesis