Writing Styles: When and How You Should Use the 4 Main Types

Updated July 31, 2023

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Having a clear understanding of the different types of writing styles and the specific purpose each one serves is a critical component of communication skills in the workplace. One of the best ways to develop your writing skills is to learn how to recognize and choose the best writing technique to get your message across.

In this article, we explore four writing techniques with tips to help you apply them in your writing.

What is a writing technique?

A writing technique is a style an author uses to convey their message in a manner that is effective and meaningful to their audience. Understanding the different types of writing techniques is important to professionals because you will need to change your style of writing to make a connection with your audience.

For example, the writing method most effective for selling products to consumers is different from what’s most effective at providing employee feedback and coaching.

Related: 5 Steps for Great Business Writing (With Tips)

Types of writing techniques

There are four different types of writing techniques in business:

1. Descriptive writing style

Descriptive writing immerses the reader into a story by creating a vivid picture of characters, settings and events in their mind. Writers who use a descriptive writing style often use literary tools like similes and metaphors in their writing.

The purpose of the descriptive writing style is to make the reader feel like they are experiencing the events for themselves. Most descriptive writing isn’t very long. Examples include poems, personal journals and lyrics.

You can use descriptive writing in the workplace when you want to bring a story to life, such as a brief biography or autobiography written to introduce a new employee to the company.

Related: Analytical Essay vs. Descriptive Essay: What’s the Difference?

2. Narrative writing style

Narrative writing expands upon the descriptive writing style and tells an entire story with a beginning, middle and end. Narrative writing style follows a clear storyline and plot, such as a fictional novel, screenplay or memoir. Writers who use a narrative writing style often use literary tools like foreshadowing and flashbacks in their writing.

Narrative writing could be used in the workplace for a salesperson using a personal anecdote to prepare the reader for their sales pitch.

Related: 10 Rules for Great Storytelling (With Tips To Improve)

3. Persuasive writing style

Persuasive writing is used to convince or influence the reader to believe or do what the writer wants them to do. The persuasive writing style requires the writer to combine research and logical reasoning with an emotional connection that persuades the reader to adopt the writer’s personal opinions and beliefs.

Examples of persuasive writing in the workplace include cover letters, letters of recommendation, company brochures, business proposals and advertisements intended to convince consumers to buy your product.

Related: Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: Definition, Steps and Example

4. Expository writing style

Expository writing is used to inform, explain or describe something to the reader. The expository writing style is one of the most common types of writing and answers questions the reader has, such as what, why and how. When using an expository writing style, the writer needs to separate their opinion from the facts they are sharing.

Examples of expository writing in the workplace include employee newsletters, how-to guides and educational articles that are intended to provide information, insights and facts about a specific subject.

Related: Guide to Submitting a Writing Sample

Tips for choosing a writing technique

Here are a few additional tips for using these writing techniques to improve your business writing:

  • Determine what your message is: Knowing the message you are trying to convey to the reader and the purpose of your writing will help you choose the writing technique that will be most effective for your piece.

  • Know your audience: You will also need to consider who your audience is and which writing technique they will respond to the most.

  • Try combining writing styles: Many pieces of writing combine two or more writing techniques to convey a message effectively. For example, salespeople often use a combination of narrative storytelling and persuasive arguments to pitch and sell their products.

  • Use appropriate literary devices: Literary devices—like similes, metaphors and alliteration—are powerful tools writers can use to improve their writing. Expand your knowledge about different types of literary devices and know which ones work best with each writing technique.

Frequently asked questions

What writing style should you use at work?

Reflect on the purpose of your writing assignment. If you're writing for a business purpose, like an email to a client or an employee, opt for an expository style because it's informational and straightforward. If you're writing something more creative for work, like a marketing video, you might use persuasive or narrative writing.

Why is it important to differentiate between writing styles?

Identifying and using the appropriate style of writing can help you reach your intended audience and increase your chances of achieving your desired outcome. The quality of your writing is likely to increase if you're employing the right tools, devices and tone for the assignment. It also builds credibility with readers when you use an appropriate style for the medium or environment.

What are some careers in writing?

Below are some careers you might pursue if you enjoy writing and want to draft and edit written material professionally:

  • Copywriter: Copywriters craft digital and/or print copy, including blogs, articles, advertising and marketing materials such as taglines, commercials, digital ads, emails and social media posts.

  • Author: Authors create poems and fiction or nonfiction books and short stories.

  • Technical writer: Technical writers develop written manuals, instructions, guides and resources explaining complex technical concepts to readers in an understandable way.

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