Formal vs. Informal Writing: What's the Difference?

Katelyn Fernandez | 7:06 PM

It is universally acknowledged that texting consists of informal writing: abbreviated words suited for short cuts, an absence of punctuation and capitalization and of course, a bunch of emoticons. Informal writing takes a personal approach, and has a style of language that is classified as colloquial, which resembles spoken language ("Colloquial - Definition and Examples in English"). Take this lovely text message I received from my sister the other day as a seemingly exaggerated example.

Source: Katelyn fernandez.

Source: Katelyn fernandez.

Notice how improper her grammar is, but we can easily picture her saying this as though she is standing nearby, her words clear and evident. That is why the writing style fits very well with text messaging. Textisms are the words we incorporate into our text messages as a form of shorthand and are most frequently implemented in social media and other forms of technological communication (Durkin, Conti-Ramsdent, and Walker). Teenagers, or any person for the matter, are able to successfully communicate with the press of the send button. With textisms and a colloquial writing style, it's simple and fast. No one is around supervising what we write, and it makes sense as to why informal writing sounds the most appealing.

Formal writing, on the other hand, is a whole separate category. The language is much more professional and business-like, and is the standard writing style students use in academic writing around the globe. If you would like an example of formal writing, look up an article on Google Scholar. You'll be sure to find one there.

Here are a few rules regarding formal writing extracted from

  • Absolutely no contractions. (e.g. can't, don't, won't, etc.)

  • Standard punctuation and spelling is expected.

  • Must be organized into paragraphs filled with long, complex sentences.

  • Writing style must not be colloquial.

Based off the rules above, there is no doubt formal writing and texting do not mesh well together. People usually do not have the time to organize their thoughts in complex words, and pay very little attention when using punctuation.

So, there you have it - the difference between formal and informal writing. Now, would you consider this blog post a work of informal or formal writing?

Works Cited

"Colloquial - Definition and Examples in English." About Education., n.d. Web. 27 November 2015.

Conti-Ramsden, Gina, Kevin Durkin, and Allan J. Walker. "The Messages they Send: E-Mail use by Adolescents with and without a History of Specific Language Impairment (SLI)." International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders 47.2 (2012): 217-28. ProQuest. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.

Taylor, Diedra. "Formal Writing: Definition, Rules & Examples.", n.d. Web. 27 November 2015.