What Are the Different Styles of Writing You Should Know?

There are lots of different styles of writing. However, all of these styles fit into four categories: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative. We’ll take a look at each of these different styles of writing to help you determine which to use in any particular moment.

Expository Writing

Expository writing, or informative writing, involves relaying facts to your audience. In this style, the author provides facts and figures or explains how a process is completed. The information is typically presented in a logical order or sequence. Also, the author should refrain from adding his or her opinion into the piece, making sure that the information is shared in an objective fashion.

Some examples of expository writing include textbooks, instruction manuals, news stories, research papers, recipe books, and technical writing.

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Expository Example

This example is a step-by-step instruction of how to swaddle a baby. You’ll notice that the author doesn’t insert any personal opinions while listing the process for swaddling a baby:

When swaddling a baby, one must first fold the blanket into a triangle. Lay the baby in the center of the long side of the triangle with his or her shoulders along the edge of the blanket. Place the baby’s left arm next to the body, and fold the left side of the blanket across the baby. Tuck this side under the baby.

Then, take the bottom of the blanket and pull it up to the baby’s chest. Fold this part of the blanket into the top part of the swaddled blanket. After that, with the right arm free, take the right side of the blanket and cross it over the baby. Keep the extra part of the blanket under the baby to help hold it in place.

Descriptive Writing

Because it calls on the reader to describe something, the second style of writing is referred to as a descriptive style. The thing being described could be an event, person, place, action, etc. Unlike expository writing, descriptive writing is highly objective. The author infuses their personal feelings into their writing. This is done by using analogies, metaphors, adjectives, and other figurative language. With the help of these literary devices, the author works to evoke a particular image in the reader’s mind.

Descriptive writing also focuses on appealing to the readers’ senses. To do this, the author should focus on the five senses: touch, taste, hearing, sight, and smell. For example, while describing a place, the author could discuss what the place looks like, sounds like, and smells like. Then, the author can discuss some of the things he or she touches and tastes while at the place in a way that makes the reader feel like they are actually at that place, too.

Some examples of descriptive writing include poetry, excerpts of fiction writing, journals, and travel guides.

Descriptive Example

In this example, you’ll notice how the narrator discusses what he or she hears, smells, sees, and feels. You’ll also notice example of figurative language, such as “the darkness enveloped me” or “the sound of water lightly skipping over the rocks.”

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Walking down the moon-lit path, I could hear the crunch of twigs and branches under my feet as the smell of rain lingered in the air. The darkness enveloped me, making it difficult to see more than a few feet in front or behind me. But, I listened for the sound of the stream. The sound of water lightly skipping over the rocks added to the serenity of the night. I pulled my oversized sweater closer around me as I squinted in the dark. Knowing the stream was close, I took a deep breath and parted the bushes to the stream. I hoped that it would be here where I would finally find some peace of mind, some answers to the questions that I had longed to find.

Persuasive Writing

A persuasive, or argumentative, style is used to convince the reader of a particular position or point of view. The author discusses his or her opinion, which often leads to writing that is biased. Of course, a strong argument should have plenty of facts, data, and reasoning used to convince the reader, too. The author should focus on ethos (credibility), logos (logic of the argument), and pathos (emotional appeal to the reader) in order to craft an effective argument.

Oftentimes, a persuasive essay ends with a call to action to the reader, trying to convince them to side with the author and take appropriate action. For example, the author could discuss the benefits of becoming an organ donor. Then, the conclusion could include a call to action, encouraging readers to visit their state’s organ donor registry to sign up. (Persuasive writing is also a great place to use parallelism!)

Examples of persuasive or argumentative writing include speeches, editorials, reviews, complaint letters, advertisements, or cover letters.

Persuasive Example

The introduction to this persuasive speech discusses the importance of refraining from fad diets for more effective methods. The author provides statistics and a direct quote to support his or her ideas of what those more effective methods should be:

At the start of every new year, many people make the goal to lose weight and get in shape. They quickly turn to the latest and greatest diet crazes to help them. Unfortunately, many fail to achieve the results they want. According to Health Research Funding, 69% of people fail to reach their target weight on a fad diet because they don’t combine the diet with exercise. But, “the average American adults tries to implement a fad diet 4 times per year” (HealthResearchFunding.org). With the number of people looking to lose weight, I believe that people should trade fad diets for daily exercise, reduce portions, and increase water intake.

Narrative Writing

A narrative tells a story. It includes characters, a plot, setting, dialogue, and action. Narratives can be used in fiction or non-fiction writing. Most narratives are told sequentially with a beginning, middle, and end. The author may choose to use first-person narrative to tell the story from their own point of view or the point of view of one of the characters in the story.

Narratives are used in novels, short stories, personal essays, anecdotes, biographies, and oral histories.

Narrative Example

The following example contains an excerpt from a story. Notice the dialogue, characters, and enfolding plot:

As I cooked bacon and eggs over the stove, fog gathered along the window. It was a cold winter morning—one of those mornings when you decide to stay inside. I called to Roger, “Breakfast is ready! Come get it while it’s hot!” With that, I heard some rummaging upstairs. Only the promise of a hearty meal could get him out of bed on a day like this.

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I walked past the window to retrieve a couple of plates. Just then a flash of light caught my eye from the distance. Something seemed to be heading right for our cabin. Since we didn’t get visitors often, my mind started to race. Who could it be? What would bring them out here on a morning like this?

I didn’t notice when Roger appeared in the kitchen and moved into place beside me. He seemed to be questioning the unexpected guest, too.

“Is that a sleigh?” he asked.

“It looks like it,” I responded. “Are you expecting anybody today?”

“No. I have no idea…” Before he could finish his thought, the sleigh driver stopped, jumped out of the vehicle, and headed straight for our cabin.

The Different Styles of Writing

Determine which one of the different styles of writing you should employ based on the message that you want to get to your reader and how you want to present that message. Whether you’re describing a memorable vacation or persuading a group of people to vote a particular way, the style can make a huge impact on the effectiveness of your writing.

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.


  • Jamie Goodwin

    Jamie graduated from Brigham Young University- Idaho with a degree in English Education. She spent several years teaching and tutoring students at the elementary, high school, and college level. She currently works as a contract writer and curriculum developer for online education courses. In her free time, she enjoys running and spending time with her boys!

2 Responses to What Are the Different Styles of Writing You Should Know?

  1. Lahirusandaruwan March 30, 2019 at 10:14 pm #

    It was very useful to me.Thank you very much.

    • Dawne DuCarpe
      Dawne DuCarpe April 3, 2019 at 6:30 am #

      So happy to hear that it was helpful!

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