Tone For Academic Writing

What’s the right tone to use in academic writing?  For the most part, it will hinge on several specific factors.


Audience is a major consideration in any type of writing.  It is something you will have to settle even before setting down the first word on your draft.  Identifying what audience you are writing for allows you to adjust the way you will write the piece.  After all, language use that may reach out to you best friend, may not be the most appropriate when presenting ideas to a history professor.

The more you know about your audience, the better you can tweak your style in order to suit them.  Your familiarity with the readers will allow you to tailor your vocabulary, sentence structures, types of evidence, forms of reasoning and other essay components to ensure that you communicate your ideas more effectively.

Subject Matter

Subject matter, of course, will have a certain bearing on the tone and style you use too.   A review of a lighthearted film will likely sound very different from a discussion of advancements in cellular biology.  If you’re writing for university, however, it’s safe to assume you will need to compose documents with a more serious and formal tone.  The language you employ, based on your audience, will dictate much of the rest.


The attitude you communicate also carries some weight on the tone of your paper.  Be timid and you will sound unsure of your ideas; be too aggressive and you’ll force the reader to shut down.  Find a middle ground – one that’s confident, but rational.

Writing Software

Some of the more advanced writing programs can help you adjust your writing’s style, such that you effectively affect its overall tone.  If you plan on using one, we recommend those software specifically designed for academic use as they can really help polish your work in the ways that professors are likely to appreciate.