Style

  • Keep your readers engaged by crafting your unique style.
  • Edit your documents for clarity, focus, and persuasiveness.

Style refers to how something is written or spoken as opposed to what the rhetor (writer or speaker) is saying. Style refers to how a rhetor communicates as opposed to the gist of the message.

Style is a composite of multiple language practices that are forged at both

  1. the Global, Macroscopic, Rhetorical Level
  2. the Local, Microscopic, Linguistic level.

All communicative acts are imbued with style. Even the bot that answers the phone when you call in to complain about your bill to Verizon Communications has a style: the fake nice cheerful voice so eager to help you! In face-to-face situations, event an inarticulate grunt is a style of communication.

Aspiring writers may worry that achieving a style that invokes a sense of professionalism is something beyond their skills, something reserved for professionals who have honed their craft over the years or those blessed with inherent talents. This is not true. While creating sentences that make readers weep at the beauty may be reserved for epic poets, the average writer can create sentences that do more than simply convey information–and can do it by considering a few key elements.

Style matters. When a writer employs turgid, abstract, polysyllabic prose, readers click to a new text. Style is about crafting texts that snag the reader’s attention and refuse to let go, texts that insist on being savored, texts that make the writing a pleasure to enjoy.

Global, Macroscopic, Rhetorical Level Local, Microscopic, Linguistic level
A rhetor’s style is shaped by the absence and presence of specific Rhetorical Appeals, and Rhetorical Devices, Rhetorical Modes. The balance of logos to ethos and pathos impinges on style.

The Rhetorical Stance a rhetor adopts via Persona, Tone, and Voice largely defines how audiences talk about the rhetor’s style.

When Rhetors engage in the processes of scholarship (e.g., they develop substantive discourse that substantiates knowledge claims according to information literacy conventions) they project a learned, professional style.

When Rhetors employ genre conventions, their prose identifies them as members of a discourse community.

A rhetor seems smart and focused when she maintains control of the purpose, thesis, research question and maintains a coherent, logical flow.

A Rhetor invokes a professional style by using of concrete & sensory language, figurative language, concise language.



Rhetor invoke a sense of competence and commitment by avoiding errors of Diction, Grammar, Mechanics, Punctuation, Sentences.

When during the writing process should you consider Style?

As a rhetor (writer or speaker), when you enter a communicative situation, consider what sort of style is appropriate for your audience(s). Consider, e.g.,

  • What jargon and level of abstraction is acceptable?
  • How about humor or satire? Should you hammer down a thesis in the first sentence or lead the reader down a path to a conclusion?
  • Or, do you need to be more objective than persuasive?

In turn, when reading or listening to a rhetor, reflect on your perception of the rhetor’s style. What sort of voice do you hear?

  • Does the writer seem too self absorbed? Does the world revolve around the writer’s emotions and thoughts?
  • Does the writer sound sweet?
    • like a salesperson who uses the you attitude to place the spotlight on your needs and concerns?
  • Does the writer seem stuffy?
    • Is the focus solely on the topic without references to his/her or your experiences with the topic?

Additional articles on Style:

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  2. Active Voice

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  3. Add Figurative Language to Engage Your Reader

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  4. Apostrophes

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  5. Archaisms

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  6. Avoid Comma Splices

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  7. Avoid Dropped Quotations

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  8. Avoid the Use of Unsupported Opinions as Evidence

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  9. Avoid Unnecessary “to be” Verbs

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  10. Avoid Unnecessary Shifts in Point of View

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  11. Avoid Unnecessary Shifts in Verb Tense

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  12. Avoid Vague Pronoun References

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  13. Capitalization

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  14. Clarify the Pronoun-Antecedent Relationship

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  15. Clarify Vague Pronoun References

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  16. Cliches

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  17. Colons

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  18. Commas

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  19. Commas

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  20. Commas

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  21. Concrete & Sensory Language

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  22. Creating Flow via Repetition

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  23. Dangling Modifiers

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  24. Dashes and Parentheses

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  25. Edit for Diction

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  26. Edit Strings of Prepositional Phrases

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  27. Eliminate “to be” Verbs

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  28. Eliminate Unnecessary Words

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  29. Executive Summary

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  30. Exercise: “We” and “You” in Academic Writing

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  31. Exercise: Maintain a High Verb-to-Noun Ratio

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  32. Formatting In-text Citations (APA)

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  33. Formatting the References Page (APA)

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  34. General Guidelines for Using the First Person

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  35. Grammar

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  36. Homonym Usage

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  37. Hyphens

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  38. Identify When the Active Voice is Preferable to the Passive Voice

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  39. Identifying and Addressing Unclear Pronouns & Antecedents

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  40. Incorporating Figurative Language into Your Paper

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  41. Jargon

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  42. Making Sure Your Voice is Present

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  43. Medium, Mass Media, Social Media

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  44. Order of Major Sections (APA)

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  45. Primer-Style Sentences

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  46. Pronouns and Antecedents

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  47. Proofreading

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  48. Punctuation

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  49. Quotation Marks

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  50. Read Your Paper Aloud to Check Cohesiveness

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  51. Review Colon Usage

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  52. Review Ellipsis Usage

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  53. Run-on Sentences

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  54. Semicolons

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  55. Semicolons

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  56. Sentence Fragments

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  57. Sentence Patterns

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  58. Spelling

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  59. Subject-Pronoun Agreement

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  61. Subject-Verb Agreement

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  62. The First Person

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  63. Title Page Template (APA)

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  64. Use Commas After Conjunctive Adverbs and Transitional Phrases at the Beginnings of Sentences

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  65. Use Commas After Introductory Subordinate Clauses

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  66. Use Commas Around Nonrestrictive Parenthetical Elements

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  67. Use Commas Before Nonrestrictive Adverbial Phrases or Clauses at the Ends of Sentences

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  68. Use Commas to Join Two or More Independent Clauses

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  69. Use Commas to Separate Adjacent Parallel Elements

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  71. Use Parallel Structure

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  73. Using Brackets in a Direct Quotation (APA)

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  74. Using First Person in an Academic Essay: When is It Okay?

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  75. Using Parentheses

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  76. Vague Language

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  77. Vary Sentence Structure

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  78. Writing Concisely and Avoiding Redundancy

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