A to Z Day 20: Tone

Tone is all about how an author treats the subject of a text and the audience. The two most common categories for tone

Click for A-Z blog list.

Click for A-Z blog list.

are “formal” and “informal,” but other words to describe it abound. “Solemn,” “friendly,” “sarcastic,” “condescending,” and “enthusiastic” are a few other examples.

Tone is sometimes confused or used interchangeably with mood; but they are different concepts. Tone is about the author’s attitude as expressed by things like diction, syntax, and point-of-view. Mood is about how a piece of writing affects the audience. So, tone has an influence on mood of a piece, and there are many words that can be used to describe both (somber, for example).

Many other aspects of a piece of writing can affect tone, including the amount of detail an author employs (see images), the sounds of the words themselves (see euphony), the level of specialization in the chosen vocabulary (see jargon), and the overall pace of the piece.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell exactly what sort of tone you’re setting, and sometimes different readers will read the same words and interpret their tone differently. For example, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish “passionate” from “angry.” The only way to really be sure about the tone of a piece of writing is to have other people read it and give you feedback.



14 thoughts on “A to Z Day 20: Tone

    • I’m glad you think so, and I do try hard in the quality department. I felt like I should say more with this post, but in the end the deadline was the determining factor. Overall, I’m pleased with the way these April posts have turned out.


  1. Great summary although I’m not sure if I agree with the conclusion in the last sentence but that’s certainly one way to do it. I think the more one writes, the more confident one can get with the tone they’re using. Thanks for the post, I’m glad you’ve included it, it’s a very important part of writing.


  2. Pingback: Posts I loved this week | Taylor Grace

  3. Pingback: Things I know now that I didn’t know on April 1: An A to Z Reflection | The Writing Catalog

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