Writing Content: Choosing the Right Tone

Conveying the Right Tone

Creating quality content is not as easy as it sounds. So many decisions go into crafting content that will have the desired effect of attracting traffic and converting visitors to customers. One very important decision is the tone to take in any given piece of content. There are essentially three different types of tone to consider, but each is adaptable according to precise needs. A tone can be direct and authoritative, friendly and helpful, or enthusiastic and persuasive. For each web page that contributes content, the writer must keep a number of factors in mind before choosing a tone and deciding how to adapt it.

The Website’s Overall Tone

Above all, a piece of text must conform adequately to the tone set by the site overall. If a site’s brand is upbeat and quirky, for instance, a cautionary piece full of doom and despair is a terrible fit. The contrast is not always that stark, of course, as further examples demonstrate. Sometimes, for instance, subtle differences can be found with content written for young professionals as opposed to content directed toward seasoned veterans in a given industry. Cultural expectations and norms affect the language, inflection and tone common to target audiences. Straying too far from the atmosphere that a target demographic expects will confuse readers and possibly turn them away.

Formal or Informal

Most website owners want their sites to have content free of glaring typos and grammatical catastrophes. A website full of misspellings is an embarrassment. The real question, though, is how rigid the expectations of perfection should be. Some content mills, for example, forbid the use of contractions in all pieces of writing for clients. Formal, grammatically correct writing has no contractions. While this unyielding standard contributes to pristine sentence structure, it can also create an overly stuffy tone for some sites. Writers have to perform grammatical acrobatics to achieve a casual tone within these restrictive conditions.

The Voice of Authority

An overly formal and rigid voice is particularly a danger when aiming for an authoritative tone. A voice that conveys expertise need not contain language that inspires yawns. The key is to build phrasing that implies savvy and subject command without alienating readers.

Stay Calm and Avoid Slang

Too much casual phrasing, however, can lead to content that appears amateurish. This is the risk when going for a friendly tone. Writers have to be certain that their relaxed tone refrains from descending into slang and the appearance of carelessness. Writers going for helpfulness and a pleasant voice still need to sound professional and trustworthy.

Controlled Enthusiasm

When the goal is to create the type of energy that entices visitors to become customers, writers must aim for controlled cheerfulness. Like a friendly tone, one that conveys enthusiasm can too easily slide into an amateurish appearance. Skilled writers, however, learn quickly how to be lively and witty without abusing the exclamation mark. Persuasion is a valuable tool, and talented writers can wield that tool with the right level of energy.

Breaking the Rules

The most important thing about rules is knowing when to break them. A site known for its friendly and agreeable tone, for instance, can occasionally have a sober piece of writing when applicable. Similarly, a site that aims for a tone of industry expertise can lighten things up now and then when appropriate. A blog area or a section of the website that makes a tone transition smooth is a great way to add variation without showing disregard for the site’s overall goals.

Getting Started

The best approach to determining the right tone is to answer a few simple questions before getting started.

1. What overall tone does the website/brand set?

2. What is the goal for this particular piece of content, and how does it serve the whole site?

3. How formal should the writing be?

4. What length is most appropriate for the piece?

When in doubt, work with a content provider that can offer adaptable and effective solutions that meet your unique needs.

Contact us for a quote on providing you with high quality content.

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