Your Audience And The Level Of Formality In Your Writing
The level of formality of a piece of work can be determined by many things. Most important, however, are the expectations of your audience.
If you are writing a cover letter for a job application, what level of formality will the company’s HR be expecting from it? How about an email to a friend or an academic essay? A potential employer will most likely expect your letter to be formal, while a friend is naturally expecting something casual.
Casual Writing. Casual writing, also called informal, gives you the license to use the language in a less-rigid manner, largely reflecting the way you speak. Slang terms, contractions and other non-standard English forms are allowed. Letters to friends, commenting on blogs and other non-official forms of writing can be accomplished in a very casual manner without any troubles.
Semi-Formal Writing. Semi-formal writing blends the easy-going manner of casual style with the assertive structure of formal prose. It is best employed when you’re not very comfortable writing in a formal voice, but don’t want the excessive nonchalance of casual form. A good example of this is when sending an email to a close family member about a serious topic – it’s inappropriate to be formal, but the subject simply isn’t casual.
Formal Writing. Formal writing is the most strict of these three styles, with a set of rules and conventions that need to be followed to the letter. Language has to be strictly textbook and to the point. Most people expect business correspondence to be laid out in such a manner, as well as discussions of a legal nature, among others.
If you’re having trouble determining whether your text adheres to proper standards of formality, check in with your grammar checker, as it can take that factor into consideration when running through your work.