How to Avoid Informal Writing

Informal writing, or colloquial writing, is writing that is generally derived from relaxed, everyday speech. Informal writing often has grammatical errors, and spelling that derives from speech but is nevertheless incorrect. With the new communication channels on the Internet, a whole new range of informal writing has emerged ("U", "b4", "FWIW"). All these stylistic twists on the English language, from "tonite" to "l8r", should be avoided in formal writing.

The fact is that informal writing is prevalent. So, how do we know what to avoid when it is time to write formally, such as in an essay, a business presentation, or a covering letter for a resume? Below we will give some general tips, which you can keep in mind when writing to make your text more formal. The easiest way to make sure your writing is formal is to use WhiteSmoke, the all-in-one English writing tool. With WhiteSmoke, you can be sure that your writing is free of English grammar errors, spelling errors, and adheres to a formal writing style.

General Tips

1.    Think about your spelling: "tonite" or "tonight"? "Nothing" or "nuthin"? "got you" or "gotcha"? "Ain't or "are not"?

2.    Think about your punctuation: some types of punctuation are rarely used in formal writing, such as parentheses ( ) and dashes ( - ), and some are used much more, like the colon ( : ).

3.    Omit unnecessary words and phrases: excessive adverbs and adjectives detract from the formality of writing, as do phrases such as "you know", and "like" and "well" at the start of sentences, or during pauses in the sentence's rhythm.

4.    Avoid contractions: use "cannot" instead of "can't; "you are" instead of "you're"; "I will" instead of "I'll".

5.    Do not start a sentence with a coordinated conjunction: "and" and "but" will often begin a sentence in speech and less formal writing, but it is actually grammatically incorrect and should be avoided in formal writing.

6.    Cliches and common expressions should be avoided. For example, "I had to give an arm and a leg" and "pretty as a picture" can be said in more formal ways.

7.    Avoid using "OK" and "Okay".

These tips will help you write better when formal writing is required. WhiteSmoke can take care of such errors, and more, automatically, making it the most comprehensive writing tool available.