Tone forms an integral part of literature. It provides a verbal form to a writer’s attitude regarding a certain subject. Specific word choices convey their feelings and opinions to the readers. The author’s intentions are revealed behind the text.

The tone of a story is always expressed using an adjective. It is important to note that tone in writing doesn’t refer to a particular character’s attitude towards something, doesn’t include the attitude of any first-person fictional narrators, and the moods evoked in the story. The tone in literature is delivered through two means:

Firstly, the intentions of the author are taken into account. Then comes the author’s word choice. The writer can use the tools above to express their attitude differently. Analysis and understanding of the text should be the main priority in figuring out the tone of the text.


  • What is Tone?
  • What are the Different Types of Tones?
    • Formal
    • Informal
    • Pessimistic
    • Optimistic
    • Tense
    • Uplifting
    • Informative
    • Entertaining
    • Assertive
    • Informative
    • Contemplative
  • Why is Tone Important in Writing?
  • How Can You Develop Your Writing Tone?
  • Conclusion

What is Tone?

Different Types of Tone in Writing 

The tone of the writing indicates the feelings and attitudes underlined in the text. The tone is created by word choice, dialogue, and description. A piece might have a positive or demoralizing tone, or the tone might be sad or tense. It also refers to the complexity of the writing, along with how the author demonstrates the shift in the story or mood. Tone, like language, works because the readers agree on the meaning revealed behind the words.

Adding to that, cultural norms are also essential because they dictate how those are perceived from their end. While texting on the phone, the tone contrasts. If we reply to a text on being asked for a day out with them, there is a difference between a simple “OK” and “For Sure!”. The choice of words impacts the readers, and that is what the function of tone is in literature. Adair Lara, a writing coach, remarked, “Tone is what the dog hears.” It is highly dependent on the context of the text as well.

The following section will deal with the different types of tones that you can use to improve your writing.

What are the Different Types of Tones?

Writing can have different tones, and the list can be endless. It is often equated with a human emotion and turns into a tone. The basic ones are:

  • Formal: It is a common type present often in academic contexts. It is often used when the tone needs to be direct and respectful.

Example: “As per the statistics, the dating app Bumble is more frequently used by women.”

  • Informal: It is opposite to the formal one and sounds more chatty. It includes colloquial and shortened words, making it more conversational.

Example: “Hey, what’s up, Kim? Wanna go grab a burger?”

  • Pessimistic:It reflects a negative situation or belief.

Example: “I lost my job, and my landlord has given me an eviction notice. Things are going downhill rapidly.”

  • Optimistic: It is contrary to the pessimistic tone. The tone might be included to view the thing positively.

Example: “Despite the war, Mother set the table for Christmas as she believed it would cheer us all up.”

  • Tense: This particular tone is included to convey a mystery, thriller, and concern.

Example: “She ran down the stairs, the candlesticks making ominous shadows on the wall.”

  • Uplifting: The tone conveys a motivating feeling, reassuring the readers that overcoming a challenge isn’t hard.

Example: “Alex thought that his first day at the new school would be difficult, but then he remembered his mother’s encouraging words and realized it would all be okay.”

  • Assertive: An assertive tone is different from an aggressive tone. The former expresses authority and confidence, while the latter conveys anger. An assertive tone in writing might present things bluntly.

Example: “I will not allow you to attend the party, and that’s my last word.”

  • Informative: This tone is included when the author needs to educate or inform the readers about a particular topic or issue.

Example: “The rotation of the Earth around the Sun causes day and night.”

  • Entertaining: This tone is used as comic relief in the text. It might be humorous and make the reader laugh. At the same time, it might be light-hearted and enjoyable.

Example: “Knock, knock, who’s there? Nobel. Nobel, who? No bell, that’s why!”

  • Cooperative: This tone can be cited in materials written for a workplace. It includes both positive and collaborative elements.

Example: “I would like to get all your opinions once this presentation is over.”

  • Contemplative: The tone is included where there is a need for a deep or serious thought. It reflects one’s actions through words.

Example: “I was wondering whether I ought to take part in the photography competition or the volleyball tournament.”

  • Apathetic: This tone is added when one is not concerned or showing no emotion. Here, the word choice becomes extremely important to deliver the tone efficiently.

Example: “I understand your emotions, but they are of no use to me.”

Why is Tone Important in Writing?

Besides revealing the feelings and intentions of the author in the text, it is also connected to our emotional response. The tone impacts our amygdala, which is where our brain processes emotions. There is a theory that it interacts with the visual and orbitofrontal cortex. The latter plays the decision-making role in producing the relationship between emotions and words.

So when we see words on a page, we try to interpret the meaning and attach a layer of emotional context, bringing out the emotional meaning. We intentionally create tone in our writing, too. An emotional layer is built into it, from picking our pronouns to punctuation. There is a scientific approach to mastering tone as well.

According to Plutchick’s Wheel of Emotions, feelings can be consciously calculated based on the combination of basic emotions. So, to create a feeling of love, there should be an addition of trust and joy. Without these elements, there would be no emotions in the text. The author should always take the readers into account. At the same time, to include an envious tone, the author should combine sadness and anger.