Formal vs Informal Writing: Difference and Comparison

Writing is a way to express facts, opinions, beliefs, and many other aspects. Writing can be done through formal writing or informal writing.

Key Takeaways

  1. Formal writing follows strict rules and conventions, using formal language, complete sentences, and proper grammar, and is used in academic or professional contexts.
  2. Informal writing is more casual and conversational, allowing for colloquial language, contractions, and relaxed grammar rules, and is common in a personal communication or creative writing.
  3. The choice between formal and informal writing depends on the purpose, audience, and context of the communication, with formal writing conveying a sense of professionalism and authority and informal writing fostering a more personal, relatable tone.

Formal Writing vs Informal Writing

Formal writing has a complex sentence structure written for people you don’t know personally. It avoids the use of personal pronouns, colloquial or slang terms. Informal writing has a shorter sentence structure used in more personal settings and allows nonstandard English forms and colloquial vocabulary.

Formal writing vs Informal writing

However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the terms on specific parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:


 

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonFormal WritingInformal Writing
MeaningWriting which is more professional and official in toneWriting which is more personal and casual
Personal aspectLacks personal touchIt has a personal touch to the writing
Type of toneIt has a professional tone to the writingLacks a professional tone to the writing. Informal writing has a casual tone.
Type of voicePassive voiceActive voice
Use of colloquialismNo use of colloquialismMore use of colloquialism
Use of words such as “I” and “We.”There is no use of or occasional use of words like “I” or “We.”More use of words like “I” and “We.”
Usage of slangNo slang, as formal writing is mainly written for business or official purposes.The usage of slang is prevalent
Type of sentencesComplicated and longSimple, short and straightforward
Use of interjections/ exclamationsNo use of interjections or exclamationsThere is frequent use of interjections or exclamation marks
Use of contractionsLessMore
Use of emotional languageNoYes
Structuring of wordsWords are perfectly structuredComments can be loosely structured
UtilizationFormal writing is used for business purposes (especially to any client or superiors), professional purposes, education, or academic purpose.Informal writing is used for writing personal emails and personal or quick invitations. Informal writing may be used with care in official communication, but use will be infrequent.
Intended audienceBusiness people, university people, professional stakeholdersFriends, family
ExampleJohn is believed to be not reliableI believe that John is not reliable, don’t you think so?
Time usageMore time and effort will be required to construct formal writingFewer efforts and time will be required to develop an informal writing

 

What is Formal Writing?

Formal writing, as the name denotes, means writing of a formal nature. In other words, legal writing is written following specific rules of writing.

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Formal writing is used for formal purposes. Formal purpose can be varied, but something quite common could be a situation where a person is not very friendly with the other person to whom the communication is being made or is writing to someone in an official capacity.

Formal writing may be considered difficult to write because of the inclusion of specific rules such as the choice of correct words, avoiding repetition of words, avoiding any emotional tone or jargon, and other aspects.

Formal writing comes with long and compound sentences and passive voice. Further, formal writing will not use personal pronouns such as “I”, “We”, “You”, etc. Legal writing is commonly used for business, academics, and other professional purposes.

formal writing
 

What is Informal Writing?

Informal writing, as the name denotes, is writing of informal nature. In other words, an informal essay is writing with a relaxed, friendly, or unofficial style or manner.

Informal writing is full of colloquialism, full of casual, relaxed, friendly, and maybe even slangy writing. There is an intense usage of active voice in informal writing, and the focus is on the subject.

Informal writing will not have any specific rules to be followed for making the conversation. Informal writing will have straightforward and short sentences.

Informal writing is commonly used for personal, ordinary, familiar, or informal communication or conversation. Informal writing, if not used properly, may even hurt the feelings of the intended recipients.

informal writing

Main Differences Between Formal Writing and Informal Writing

  1. Formal writing is professional. Informal writing is personal.
  2. Formal writing does not use colloquialisms. Informal writing makes use of colloquialisms.
  3. Formal writing is used for business, professional and academic writing. Informal writing is utilized for writing personal emails.
  4. Formal writing will utilize passive voice. Informal writing will utilize active voice.
  5. Formal writing does not use slang. Informal writing may use slang.
  6. Formal writing will have long and compound sentences. Informal writing will have short, straightforward and easy sentences.
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Difference Between X and Y 2023 04 07T161715.904
References
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0093650210362465
  2. https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/journals/text/23/3/article-p321.xml

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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22 thoughts on “Formal vs Informal Writing: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article provides a comprehensive understanding of the elements that differentiate formal and informal writing. It’s impressive to see the attention to detail and clarity in the explanation of these writing styles.

    Reply
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      Reply
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    Reply
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      Reply
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