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The 4 Main Writing Styles and When to Use Them

Learning the basics is the key to becoming an effective writer and one of the writing fundamentals is learning about the different writing styles. Understanding the different writing styles and knowing when to use them is important in getting your message across to your readers.

Writing style refers to the manner in which a writer expresses themselves. It also has to do with a writer’s choice of words, structure, and tone.

There are four main writing styles, each with a particular purpose.

The 4 Main Writing Styles and When to Use Them

1. Expository Writing

Expository writing is the most common writing style used to explain a process and provide relevant facts to the readers.

Purpose: To explain or inform


  • Textbooks

  • Instructional manuals

  • How-to articles

  • Cookbooks

  • News stories

  • Research papers

  • Academic journals

2. Descriptive Writing

In descriptive writing, the writer uses vivid details to describe an event, place or character in order to allow readers to pictures themselves in the scene.

Purpose: To describe


  • Poems

  • Journal writing

  • Diaries

  • Travel books

3. Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing, also known as argumentative writing, expresses the writer’s point of view to convince the readers to agree with it or to take action.

Purpose: To convince or influence


  • Advertisements

  • Cover letters

  • Letters of recommendation

  • Editorial newspaper articles

  • Product reviews

4. Narrative Writing

Narrative writing, also referred to as storytelling, weaves together characters, plot points, conflict, and settings to create a story.

Purpose: To tell a story


  • Novels

  • Biographies

  • Autobiographies

  • Short stories

  • Anecdotes

The writing style you use doesn't need to be restricted to one particular style; you can incorporate various styles into your writing. What's more important is to think about your goal and what message you want to communicate to your readers.

At IABX, our mission is to promote and empower independent authors. We strive to provide useful and valuable information to do just that.

Feel free to send us an email at if you have any comments or suggestions. We would love to hear from you!

Missed the past weeks' Wednesday Writing Tips? Check them out here.

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