Skip to content

Types of Writing — Find Your Writing Style


When it comes to writing, everyone has their own style. There are different types of writing which depend on both the audience and the format — be it an essay, research paper, journal, poem or any other form of writing.

Finding your own writing style is important because it becomes a piece of who you are. As a student, this is especially true as you will be required to write quite often. Having your own style will help you because it makes you stand out and you will be less likely to copy others.

This guide will outline the different type of writing styles so you will know which to use when. It will also help give some insight into how you can define your own writing style.

Person typing on laptop
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

The 4 Types of Writing

Knowing the different types of writing will be beneficial both as a student and in life.

There are four main types of writing:

1. Expository Writing — The Facts

The main purpose of expository writing is to explain something. As one of the most common styles of writing, it is often used in academic settings. Expository writing is unlikely to include the author’s opinion. Instead, it is full of facts that either share information about a specific subject or explain how to do something.

When to Use Expository Writing:

  • How-to guides
  • Recipes
  • Academic writing
  • Technical and scientific papers
  • News and editorial

2. Narrative Writing — The Story

Narrative writing is as it sounds — it’s based on narration and storytelling. Non-fiction writing like this requires the author to create characters and sometimes dialogue. It follows a storyline that introduces the characters and leads the reader along the characters’ journey.

When to Use Narrative Writing:

  • Short stories
  • Novels
  • Poetry
  • Biographical or autobiographical pieces
  • Oral history
  • Anecdotes

3. Persuasive Writing — The Sell

With the intention to convince the reader, persuasive writing includes reasoning. The author presents their point of view and offers support as to why you should agree with their take on a matter.

When to Use Persuasive Writing:

  • Advertorial
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Editorial and opinion pieces
  • Cover letters
  • Personal Statements
  • Reviews

4. Descriptive Writing — The Details

Descriptive writing focuses on describing something with detail. Beyond simple and to-the-point sentences, descriptive writing paints a picture, so to speak, for the reader.

When to Use Descriptive Writing:

  • Journaling
  • Poetry
  • Fiction
  • Nature writing

Know Your Purpose First, Then Choose a Style

When you write, you’ll often be reminded to know your audience before you get started. In the same way, it’s useful to understand your purpose before putting words on the page.

When you understand your “why,” it will help you choose your “how.” That’s why it’s important to have a strong handle on the different types of writing style. It will help to make your writing more effective and consciously curated.

Why It Matters

Knowing what you’re writing for will help you serve the purpose of the piece. Moreso, if you have your intention set, this will help you to develop your own style while writing.

How To Define Your Personal Style

Writing is a form of communication, and everyone has something different to say and a way to say it.

To define your own style, consider the following:

1. Use What You Know:

Depending on the type of writing, you can draw from your own personal experiences.

2. Voice and Tone:

Voice is about who is doing the talking, and tone is about how you do the talking. When writing, you are basically putting your words that you could say out loud on the page. So, when someone reads it, they can begin recognizing a certain cadence, or rhythm, in how you piece the words together. This becomes one of the most obviously recognizable traits of your writing style.

3. Analyze your Perspective:

Take a step back to understand how and why you see something in a particular way. Then, try to convey that thought process in what you write so that the reader can better understand where you are coming from.

4. Use your Senses:

Using your senses is particularly useful when writing in a descriptive style. This is because it’s all about giving as much detail as possible. So, rather than just writing something like “The sun set,” you can add more to it such as, “The edge of the sun kissed the sky goodnight as it moved below the horizon, painting its surroundings with shades of pink and burnt orange.”

5. Avoid Cliches:

Resist the urge to include overused phrases in your work. While cliches offer truth, they take away from your own style because they have been overused.

6. Learn Writing Rules:

Especially when writing for academia or business, be sure to incorporate proper writing rules and correct grammar. If you learn these rules before you write, it will be easier to focus on the actual content of the piece.

7. Practice Every Day:

With anything, the more you practice, the better you get. If you write a little bit every day, you will improve naturally.

Woman writing in a notebook
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Types of Creative Writing

Along with the types of writing listed above, there are also different types of creative writing.

Some creative writing includes:

1. Essays:

Essays don’t just have to be for school. You can write personal essays that share your thoughts, feelings, and philosophy about ideas.

2. Journaling/Diaries:

Aside from journaling for news purposes, you can write journal and diary entries for yourself.

3. Memoir:

Memoirs share stories from personal accounts. They can be drawn from life experiences like traveling or relationships, for example.

4. Free Writing:

This is writing as stream of consciousness. Simply put down everything that comes to mind without editing.

5. Letters:

While letter writing is becoming less popular because of digital communication, it’s still a nice way to communicate with friends, family, business partners, and more. You can also write letters with your opinion to publications.

6. Poetry:

There are many different styles of poetry. One of the nicest things about writing poems is that they don’t have to abide by any rules. As the poet, you set the rules!

7. Storytelling:

One of the most popular forms of creative writing is storytelling. From short stories to novels, storytelling takes readers on a journey, which can be inspirational and even life-changing.

8. Song Lyrics:

Like poetry with a melody, song lyrics are a nice form of creative writing, especially for those with musical talent.

Ask for Feedback

More often than not, writing is a subjective art. As such, it helps to get the feedback of others. From editing for grammatical purposes to reading for meaning, people other than yourself may have something useful to share about your writing.

Don’t be afraid to listen to their thoughts and use their criticisms constructively. And remember, try not to take feedback too personally.

Wrapping Up

Depending on what you want to write, you will take a different approach every time.

By defining your goals and knowing your audience, you can choose the types of writing that are best suited for each task.

As you continue to practice writing, you will start to develop your own style that is totally unique to you. Good luck and happy writing!