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Difference Between Formal Writing and Informal Writing

Main Difference

The main difference between formal writing and informal writing is that we use formal writing for professional and academic purposes whereas, we use informal writing for un-professional and private purposes.

Formal Writing vs. Informal Writing

There are two main styles of writing in English. These are, formal and informal. These two specific styles are distinguished to classify the writing accurately to get fixed in any particular context. The Formal writing style addresses in a way with no warm feelings or frankness. Informal writing is comparatively spontaneous and casual. The tone of formal writing is not personal or expressive. The tone of informal writing is more personal than formal language. It is a general way of writing, used when one is writing to closed ones. Formal writing is explicitly stated and appears in the first or second paragraph of the essay. Informal writing is not stated explicitly and is likely to appear anywhere in an article. Formal writing adopts a complex sentence structure. Informal writing takes a simple sentence structure. The target audience of formal writing is teacher, boss, head or any higher authority with whom you have no openness. The target audience of informal language is friends, siblings, etc. This writing contains text messages, personal emails, etc. Their difference lies in the art of writing, selection of words, tone, syntax, and vocabulary. All of them changes with the change in the occasion and the situation.


Comparison Chart

Formal WritingInformal Writing
The Formal Writing style is a style which serves an official and professional purpose of language by the use of sophisticated and specific words.The Informal Writing style is a style which serves a personal and unprofessional purpose of language by the use of casual and general words.
Contractions and Slangs
It strictly avoids using slangs or contractions.It freely uses slangs and contractions.
It does not use abbreviations.It uses abbreviations.
Sentence Structure
Its sentence structure can be varied and contain complex and large sentences.Its sentence structure tends to be less complex. It contains comparatively shorter sentences.
Words Choice
The word choice of this writing is precise and technical. It avoids using clichés etc.The word choice of this writing is not hard and fast. It uses common words, clichés, etc.
Author’s viewpoint
It addresses the reader by using the third person pronoun.It addresses the reader by using first/second person pronoun.
It holds back emotions and conveys argument through powerful rhetorical devices.It conveys emotions by being ironic, thoughtful, amusing, severe or angry.
It uses passive voice.It uses active voice.

What is Formal Writing?

Formal Writing is the style of writing which is distinguished from the daily casual and careless use of language. It is formal, specific and to the point. It avoids certain things: colloquial words and expressions (wanna, gonna, etc.), contractions (“it’s” for “it is”), objectivity (I think, I believe). e.g., academic essays, official letters, applications, reports, and job interview, etc.

What is Informal Writing?

Informal Writing is the style of writing which do not restrict the writer and speaker in any way. It is instead a carefree and conventional method of writing. It addresses directly to the audience by the use of colloquial words and expressions (guy, kiddo, superb, etc.), clichés (loads of, use many, etc.), abbreviated words (TV, ASAP, etc.) and second person pronoun (you, your, etc.). e.g, writing for personal use, writing in a blog, dialogues, and conversation, etc.


Key Differences

  1. Formal writing is often more common in writing whereas; informal writing is more common in speaking than the writing.
  2. Formal writing is objective on the other hand; informal writing is subjective.
  3. Formal writing is for impersonal use. Conversely, informal writing is for personal use only.
  4. Formal writing uses vocabulary which is specific to the discipline, on the flip side, informal writing uses unspecific vocabulary about the subject.
  5. Formal writing avoids slang language, colloquialisms (common language in spoken English), but the informal writing is full of these two characteristics.


In speaking and writing, evaluation and regulation for formality and informality are always necessary. This evaluation is done by considering and using the different aspects and features of both formal and informal writing styles.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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