Creating tone through formal and informal writing

Home learning focus

To understand the differences between formal and informal language and how to match it to tone.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos
  • three activities


Today’s lesson will help you to get the tone right when you are writing different kinds of texts. Tone refers to the attitude or feeling that a writer conveys generally, or towards a subject. A writer may be passionately for or against a particular topic and express this through tone.

One way to establish the tone of your writing is to consider your language choices. Watch this clip as an introduction to formal and informal language.

Discussing the use of formal and informal language.

Now watch this clip to help you to understand the differences between formal and informal language and complete the activities below.

There are lots of words all around us conveying different meaning.


Activity 1

Standard English is a style of formal language used to suit a setting where the audience is large, not personally known, or in authority. It is an appropriate choice of style in media writing and by teachers, TV and radio news announcers.

The word ‘Standard’ refers to the use of standardised vocabulary and grammar which excludes the use of slang and incorrect grammar.

Select an event or experience that has happened to you in the last week. Using Standard English, write a paragraph to summarise the event. You could write it in the style of a news report, but remember your tone should be formal because you don't know the audience.

Activity 2

Check your understanding of formal and informal language by chosing the correct options in the activity below.

Activity 3

Practise your formal tone by writing a letter to a relative telling them about the ways you’ve managed to stay busy during the last few months.

Use the writing checklist here to make sure that you get all of the ingredients right.

Features of formal letters

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt the features of formal and informal writing, including the use of Standard English.

Here are some other useful articles on Bitesize on this topic.

Please note: Bitesize revision guides are split by exam board - to check if there is a specific version of a guide for your board, choose your subject and then exam board here.

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