Career Development

The 4 Main Writing Styles: When and How You Should Use Them

June 9, 2021

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach


Having a clear understanding of the different types of writing techniques 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 choose the most effective technique to get your message across. In this article, we’ll explore four writing techniques with tips to help you apply them in your writing.

Related: 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary Skills

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:

  1. Descriptive writing style
  2. Narrative writing style
  3. Persuasive writing style
  4. Expository writing style

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.

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.

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.

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 using writing techniques in business writing

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 effectively.

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, alliteration, personification, foreshadowing and flashbacks—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.

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