Different Strokes for Different Folks

Writing is a big part of what we do as communicators. From copywriting for advertisements to professional writing for client proposals, the writing we do can vary from project to project based on what we are trying to accomplish.

In fact, there are many different forms of writing, all with different aims and meanings. Each form has its own guidelines and its own importance in the world of the written word.

You may have learned in school that there are four major types of writing. In case you need a refresher, see below for more info on these different forms and the variety of sub-types of writing that fall within each category.

1. Expository writing is just the facts.

Considered the most common type of writing, expository writing is used to inform, explain or define a subject(s) for the reader.

Examples of expository writing include but are not limited to academic papers, business reports and proposals, newspaper and magazine articles, textbooks, resumes, instructions, and recipes.

2. Descriptive writing paints a picture.

Descriptive writing is often more interesting because of the great visual words used to describe a subject(s). The writer often explains things in great detail so you can picture the person, place or thing.

Examples of descriptive writing include but are not limited to essays, song lyrics, poetry, plays, screenwriting and vignettes.

3. Narrative writing tells a story.

Narrative writing involves plots and storylines, so the writer may put themselves in a person or character’s shoes to tell his or her story.

Examples of narrative writing include but are not limited to novels (fiction and non-fiction), biographies, diaries or journals, and anecdotes.

4. Persuasive writing makes a point.

The opinion of the writer is clearly stated to influence the reader. While other forms of writing may be impartial, persuasive writing is considered biased material.

Examples of persuasive writing include but are not limited to speeches, editorial pieces, letters of recommendation, advertisements and reviews.

Though we reviewed the four major types of writing and some examples of each, we know we didn’t mention every type of writing. Knowing there are so many kinds and the written word continues to evolve as technology advances, it might be difficult to create a comprehensive list. But we thought this might be a good resource to reference when you’re preparing to write.

Writing can sometimes blur the line between the different types, but it’s essential for you to think about all four major types before you begin writing. Once you identify the primary purpose of your writing – to explain, describe, recount or persuade – you should allow it to be your guide.