Style and genre

The important thing to consider when you are thinking about the style of your writing is the genre of the text that you are creating – the text type. Each separate type of text has its own well-known conventions (ingredients) for you to follow, ones your reader expects to find in your piece.

You need to become aware of various genres of texts to work out what ingredients you should add to your own. For example, look at the internet article, written for a young person's news website, below and identify its particular ‘genre conventions’.

An example of an article to show different genre conventionsGenre conventions

First, as always, it helps to ‘CAP’ it:

Context - This text is written for a young person's news website on the topic of the government’s annual budget.

Audience - This is a news item aimed at children and teenagers, perhaps from about 8 to 14.

Purpose - The purpose of the text is to inform.

When you are writing, you do not need to include images or captions but you can include these as simple boxes with a label describing what the image would be, for example, 'Picture of frightened child with mother'.

Structuring your text

When structuring your writing consider the following:

  • News articles need a headline to catch the eye and mind of the reader.
  • There is often a sub-heading that gives key facts about the topic.
  • The introductory paragraph gives answers to the journalist’s ‘5W+H’ questions. ‘Who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ likely touched upon in the subheading.
  • Further subheadings clarify the structure of the article, here by posing questions.
  • The paragraph then answers the question posed in the subheading.
  • There is the use of a list.
  • The article ends in a smooth and fluent way that leaves the reader feeling satisfied that all relevant information has been given.

The above genre conventions can be applied to your own article writing. However, it is not just the structure that you can adapt, you can also take tips from the style of the writing.

Here is an extract from the text.

Does it affect me?

You might not think it but the Budget does affect your life.

The Chancellor may decide to spend more or less money on schools and he may also choose to spend money on youth schemes in your area.

Adults may find they have more or less money to spend - which could mean more or less pocket money for you!

Ask yourself the following questions to help you pick out the style so that you can adapt it for your own use:

Is the writing formal or informal?

The writing is formal. There is no use of slang and both the vocabulary choices and grammar (ie sentence construction) are ‘Standard English’.

Does the writer talk directl’ to the reader and, if so, is the writer chatty?

The writer does talk directly to the reader, using personal pronouns such as 'you'. The question even uses the pronoun 'me', as if the writer is young, like the reader.

What is the vocabulary like?

The vocabulary choices are straightforward making the text easy to read. We would expect this in a text aimed at young people. The writer does use some of the more technical language or ‘jargon’ of the kind expected in an article about a government’s budget, eg 'chancellor', 'duties' and 'taxes'.

What are the sentences like?

The sentences are varied in length and are a mix of simple, compound and complex. They are straightforward and not too detailed.

What language techniques are used?

The writer is using questions, personal pronouns, facts and opinions as well as what are called ‘modal’ verbs that suggest future possibilities rather than actual actions (for example, might and could).

By analysing the text in this way, you can uncover what style and tone you too could write in if you are asked to write a news article like this one.

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