Style and Tone

Discussing Style and Tone in technical documentation in the technical writing field is usually a one-minute conversation that really doesn’t even address core issues. Usually, the conversation is about style guides or templates (which has nothing to do with style) and tone hardly even enters into it.

Here are some quick definitions:

Style

Style is the cumulative effect of choices about words, their forms, and their arrangement in sentences. Style is not just a decoration but rather is a atter of substance. Style affects comprehesnion and a reader’s attitude toward the document.

Tone

Tone is the writer’s attitude toward the reader as well as the subject matter. It describes the writer’s relationship to the reader—colleague to colleague or teacher to student. Tone also describes one’s own persona. Persona is the mask you wear as a writer. Do you see yourself as an authority on a given subject or an explorer sharing your findings. That’s tone.