Deciding how formal or informal your business writing should be is like choosing an appropriate outfit for an occasion. Just like different clothing styles suit different occasions, different forms of writing suit different types of communication.

How well do you know your audience? How casual or formal can you be with them during a conversation? How will every word from your salutation to sign-off influence them? Having the answers to these questions can make any written communication clear and effective.

Formal business writing with examples

Formal writing is more serious and buttoned-up with facts and data. Think of the formal writing style you would use to write a white paper, cover letter, or business proposal. Formal writing is often perceived as more professional. The tone, choice of words, and structure of formal writing make it easily identifiable. There are several workplace scenarios in which you will need to use formal business writing.

Different styles of formal business writing

Let’s discuss the different styles of formal business writing skills:

  • Complex

Business documents such as white paper and reports tend to have complex sentences. For such writing, one needs to be thoroughly conversant with the chosen subject or theories.

  • Objective

Formal writing focuses less on emotions.  So you will find little to no emotive punctuations such as exclamation marks and ellipsis.

  • Full words

No contractions such as ‘it’s’ and ‘they’re’ should be used when writing formally.  While abbreviations must be spelled out in full, you can use acronyms if they are more popular than their full names. For example, the BBC or ITV.

  • Third-person

You will find a more third-person writing style in formal documents. You don’t speak directly to the reader but write like they are not part of the conversation. For example, the consumer will buy this product because it is cheaper.

Informal business writing with examples

The informal style of writing is casual, relaxed, and flows freely in all directions. It’s the communication tool we use with people we know well. So you might use or hear slangs, abbreviations, and emotional expressions in informal communication.

For example, when sending a quick invitation to your friend, you may choose to write: “Hey Meera, we’re hosting a Sunday brunch at our place in the morning, say 10:30-ish. Hope you can join us! Cheers.”

Different styles of informal business writing

Let’s discuss the different styles of formal business writing skills:

  • Colloquial

Informal writing takes on a casual tone as if you were speaking directly to the reader. You can use the first person (I and we) here and address the reader in the second person (you). Popular bloggers use the personal and friendly tone in their writing, especially in the areas of travel, fashion, cooking, and lifestyle.

  • Simple

The informal style of writing flaunts short and simple sentences. Sometimes it comes off as writing style. However, in certain cases, short sentences are essential to make a point, and emotive punctuations such as exclamation marks and ellipses are used to create the effect.

  • Contractions and abbreviations

Since there is no structure for informal writing, you can include abbreviations and contractions as part of it. Doing so gives a personal and friendly vibe to the message. Just as using the word ‘gonna’ instead of ‘going to’ may sound more personal and friendly to younger people.

When to use formal and informal writing

Formal and informal writing styles serve different purposes and are meant for different audiences and situations.

However, honing both the writing styles is essential for your professional life. You may find it easier to strike that balance by learning the steps outlined in the SCQR Storytelling Framework–situation, complication, question, resolution–in Harappa Education’s Writing Proficiently course. This framework follows the path of storytelling for effective writing.


Explore blogs on topics such as the importance of writing skillshow to improve writing skillsbusiness email writing, and the process of writing in our Harappa Diaries section to build your writing skills for workplace success.

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