Copywriting Tone, Voice, and Style

Mood, style, voice, cadence, inflection. What does your copywriter mean when she asks you what kind of copywriting tone, voice, or style of writing you need for your brand? I get it – it’s confusing. So let’s break these 3 items down to the basics.

Copywriting Tone

You know the old saying, “it’s not what you say but how you say it”?

That’s exactly what we mean when we talk about tone.

It is the same as the tone of your voice except in written form. In other words it’s the attitude you have towards a specific subject and that attitude can create / build up interest—or cause readers to lose interest.

Examples of Tone:

  • Excited
  • Informative
  • Humorous
  • Inspirational
  • Sincere
  • Urgent

The words you’ve chosen, the details you’ve incorporated, and how you’ve pieced it all together to form a specific tone influences how your readers will respond.


Tip: Publications have their own distinctive tones. If you’re writing a piece – say an advertorial – for a specific publication, you’ll want to match your tone with the publication’s tone.


Copywriting Voice

The way you speak to your boss isn’t the same way you’d speak to your best friend. Right?

That’s because your audience, environment, and situation guide how you convey yourself at any given moment – but the way you see the world, your beliefs, and values remain the same.

And in the same way that you can speak to different people in different situations and still be you (your authentic self), when we refer to voice what we mean is the personality the piece we’re writing is supposed to have.

It’s what makes you uniquely you!

Copywriting Style

Simply put: Tone + Voice = Writing Style

There are four writing styles, each serving its own purpose.

Expository

This style is used when you want to explain a concept or convey information. It is objective and does not include personal opinions – it focuses on factual information about a topic and may include statistics or other forms of evidence to back points up.

Examples:

  • How-To Articles
  • Business Writing / Technical Reports

Descriptive

This style is used when you want to create a picture – stimulate oneʼs imagination – using words.

Examples:

  • Travel Guides
  • (Certain) Product Descriptions

Persuasive

As its name suggests, this style is used when you want to convince your audience about something. Unlike the expository style, opinions are included and used to justify a certain position or stance on a topic.

Examples:

  • Sales Materials
  • Advertisements

Narrative

The narrative style is all about building a world or communicating a story. You’ve got characters, conflict, settings, a resolution and so on.

Examples:

  • Short Stories – you see this style of writing quite often in «About Us» or «Our Story» pages on a website
  • Novels

With this information, you’re better equipped to explain what you have in mind for your project to your copywriter.


Did you know that there’s a difference between copywriting vs content writing? Now you do!