Difference between Formal & Informal Writing With Examples

Understanding the distinctions between formal and informal writing is crucial for effective written communication. These two styles have different characteristics and serve specific purposes in different contexts.

In this blog, we have detailed down the differences between formal and informal writing, exploring their impact on tone, language, and structure.

Defining formal writing

Formal writing refers to a style of writing that follows a set of established conventions and standards. It is characterized by its objective, precise, and professional tone, designed to convey information or arguments in a clear and logical manner.

Formal writing is often used in academic, professional, and legal settings, where clarity, accuracy, and credibility are of utmost importance.

This style of writing typically avoids slang, informal expressions, and emotional language. Instead, it employs a more structured approach, employing formal language, proper grammar, and a systematic organization of ideas.

Defining informal writing 

Informal writing can be understood as a style of communication that deviates from the strict guidelines and structure typically associated with formal writing.

It adopts a more relaxed and conversational tone, often using informal language and expressions. In contrast to formal writing, which is commonly found in academic or professional settings, informal writing is employed in everyday conversations, personal interaction, digital communications like emails and text messages, as well as social media platforms.

Comparison table for formal vs Informal writing style


Formal Writing

Informal Writing


Uses complex and specialized vocabulary.

Relies on simple and everyday language.

Sentence Structure

Employs longer, more complex sentences.

Uses shorter, simpler sentences.


Follow strict grammar rules.

Allows for more flexibility and common expressions.

Use of Abbreviations

Avoids abbreviations except for standard ones (e.g., Mr., etc.).

Frequently uses abbreviations and acronyms.


Uses formal punctuation (e.g., semi-colons).

May use exclamation points, ellipses, etc.


Minimizes or avoids contractions.

Utilizes contractions freely.

Personal Pronouns

Uses third-person pronouns (e.g., he, she, they).

Includes first and second-person pronouns (e.g., I, you, we).


Follows a fixed and organized structure.

Allows for a more free-flowing structure.


Requires formal citations and references.

Generally excludes or uses informal citations.

Word Choice

Prefers precise and specific terminology.

Encourages casual and less specific language.

Why is it important to know the difference between formal and informal writing

Knowing the difference between formal and informal writing is important for several reasons: 

  • Audience Appropriateness: Different writing contexts require different approaches. Understanding the distinction allows writers to adapt their style, tone, and language to suit the intended audience. Using an inappropriate style can hamper effective communication and create a disconnection with readers.
  • Effective Communication: Knowing when to use formal or informal writing helps ensure clear and effective communication. Formal writing provides a structured and precise approach, which can be useful when conveying complex information or presenting arguments. Informal writing, on the other hand, allows for a more personal and relatable connection with the reader, making it suitable for expressing opinions or engaging in informal conversations.

Related Reading: What is effective communication: Example, benefits & process

  • Social and Digital Communication: With the rise of social media and digital platforms, understanding the details of formal and informal writing becomes even more important. In online interactions, using the appropriate style can contribute to effective communication, avoiding misunderstandings, and building positive relationships.

Related Reading: Pros and Cons of Digital Transmission

  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Knowing the differences between formal and informal writing provides writers with the flexibility to adapt their style based on the situation and audience. Being able to switch between formal and informal writing styles demonstrates flexibility and enhances overall written communication skills.

What is the main difference between formal and informal writing (Detailed explanation)

1/ Vocabulary:

Formal Writing: Formal writing uses complex and specialized vocabulary. It is characterized by the use of technical terms, jargon, and specific terminology relevant to the subject matter. The aim is to demonstrate a high level of expertise, professionalism, and precision in conveying information. By utilizing specialized vocabulary, formal writing ensures clarity and accuracy in communicating ideas in a particular field or domain.

Informal Writing: Informal writing relies on simple and everyday language. It avoids complex vocabulary and technical terms that may complicate understanding for a general audience. The goal is to communicate ideas in a casual and accessible manner. Informal writing uses words that are commonly understood and familiar to a wide range of readers, making it more relatable and engaging. This style of writing fosters a conversational tone and encourages ease of understanding without the need for specialized knowledge.

2/Sentence Structure:

Formal Writing: Formal writing often employs longer, more complex sentences. It utilizes subordination & coordination, and various sentence structures to convey complex ideas and maintain a formal tone. The objective is to present information in a concise and structured way, demonstrating logical connections between ideas. The use of complex sentences allows for the inclusion of multiple points, supporting evidence, and further explanation in a single sentence.

Informal Writing: Informal writing, on the other hand, uses shorter and simpler sentences. The sentences are typically straightforward and easy to understand. The focus is on conveying information concisely and in a manner that is easily understandable to a broader audience. Shorter sentences help maintain a conversational and accessible tone, enabling readers to follow the flow of ideas more effortlessly.

3/ Grammar:

Formal Writing: Formal writing follows strict grammar rules. It follows standard grammatical structures, verb agreements, and sentence constructions. The focus is on maintaining clarity, precision, and grammatical accuracy. By following proper grammar rules, formal writing ensures good communication and enhances the credibility of the writer.

Informal Writing: Informal writing allows for more flexibility in grammar usage. It may include partial sentences or even occasional grammatical errors intentionally used for stylistic effect. This style mimics natural speech patterns and provides a casual and conversational tone to the writing. Informal writing prioritizes effective communication and the creation of a friendly and relatable atmosphere over strict loyalty to formal grammar rules.

4/ Use of Abbreviations:

Formal Writing: Formal writing avoids the use of abbreviations, except for standard ones that are widely accepted and recognized, such as “Mr.,” “Dr.,” or “etc.”  By spelling out words completely, formal writing ensures that the reader fully understands the intended meaning and avoids any confusion or ambiguity that may arise from the use of abbreviations.  This is especially important in professional or academic situations where accuracy is vital.

Informal Writing: Informal writing frequently employs abbreviations and acronyms as a way to convey information more efficiently and to mimic informal communication. Common abbreviations like “lol” (laugh out loud), “btw” (by the way), or “OMG” (oh my god) are commonly used in informal writing to facilitate quick and casual communication.

5/ Punctuation:

Formal Writing: In formal writing, the use of formal punctuation conventions is essential to maintain clarity and accuracy. Proper use of punctuation marks helps to structure sentences, indicate pauses and breaks, and clarify the relationships between different parts of the text. Formal punctuation, such as semicolons, colons, and em dashes, is employed to connect ideas, or separate elements within a sentence. By following formal punctuation rules, formal writing ensures logical flow, readability, and a professional appearance.

Informal Writing: Informal writing, on the other hand, allows for more flexibility and creativity in punctuation usage. It may utilize exclamation points to convey excitement, ellipses to indicate pauses or informal punctuation styles like multiple exclamation or question marks for a casual tone. The purpose is to reflect the natural flow of informal speech and to add personality and expressiveness to the writing. Informal punctuation choices aim to capture emotions, create a conversational tone, and engage the reader in a more relaxed and friendly manner.

6/ Contractions:

Formal Writing: In formal writing, the avoidance or minimization of contractions is preferred to maintain a more formal and professional tone. Contractions, which combine words by removing letters (e.g., “can’t” for “cannot” or “don’t” for “do not“), are typically avoided to maintain a more formal and professional tone. By using the full forms of words, formal writing appears more precise and serious. The intention is to convey a sense of professionalism and attention to detail, as well as to avoid any ambiguity that contractions might introduce.

Informal Writing: Informal writing freely utilizes contractions. Contractions are common in informal writing, by utilizing contractions, informal writing feels more relaxed, approachable, and relatable to the reader. However, it’s important to note that the choice of contractions depends on the desired level of formality and the intended audience.

7/ Personal Pronouns:

Formal Writing: Formal writing uses third-person pronouns to maintain objectivity and professionalism. By avoiding the use of first-person pronouns (e.g., “I” or “we“), formal writing emphasizes the subject matter or the research rather than the author’s personal perspective. This creates a sense of credibility. The focus is on presenting information and arguments in an objective and neutral manner, relying on evidence and facts rather than personal experiences or opinions.

Informal Writing:  In contrast, informal writing allows for the use of first-person and second-person pronouns more freely. Informal writing often adopts a conversational tone, directly addressing the reader or involving the writer’s own experiences and opinions. First-person pronouns like “I” or “we” create a sense of connection and authenticity, making the writing more relatable and personal. Second-person pronouns like “you” involve the reader directly, creating a sense of engagement. 

8/ Sentence Length:

Formal Writing: Formal writing uses longer sentences to provide in-depth analysis and present complex ideas. These sentences may consist of multiple phrases, allowing for the exploration of various aspects of a topic within a single sentence. Complex sentence structures help establish logical relationships between ideas and enable the inclusion of supporting evidence, and explanations.

Informal Writing: In contrast, informal writing utilizes shorter sentences to enhance readability and accessibility. By keeping sentences concise, informal writing ensures that the content is easily understandable to a wide range of readers. 

9/ Use of Citations and References:

Formal Writing: Formal writing extensively employs citations and references to support arguments, provide evidence, and acknowledge the work of others. It follows specific citation styles, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, and includes a bibliography or reference list at the end of the document.

Informal Writing: Informal writing typically does not require or emphasize the use of citations and references. It often relies on personal experiences, general knowledge, or common information without explicit citations. In informal writing, the focus is more on personal opinions, storytelling, or conveying information in a casual manner.

10/ Word Choice:

Formal Writing: In formal writing, the choice of words is carefully considered to convey information accurately and professionally. It often employs a more extensive and precise vocabulary, utilizing formal and technical terms specific to the subject matter. Formal writing avoids the use of slang or informal expressions that may undermine the professionalism of the text.

Informal Writing: Informal writing adopts a more relaxed and casual choice of words. It incorporates everyday language, common expressions, and casual vocabulary that resonate with a broader audience. Informal writing aims to be accessible and relatable, creating a friendly and engaging tone.

Difference between formal and informal writing skills

Developing both formal and informal writing skills is important as they address different communication contexts. Strong formal writing skills are crucial for academic and professional success, while informal writing skills allow for personal expression and effective communication in everyday interactions. In this section, we will explore the key difference between both forms of writing skills. 

1/ Tone and Style: Formal writing skills involve maintaining a professional and objective tone. It requires using precise language and following established writing conventions. 

Informal writing skills, on the other hand, allow for a more conversational and personal tone. It involves expressing emotions and incorporating casual language to establish a connection with the reader.

2/ Audience Awareness: Formal writing skills require a deep understanding of the target audience. Writers must consider their knowledge level, expectations, and familiarity with formal writing conventions. Communication is more formal and professional, tailored to an educated or specialized readership. 

As compared with Informal Writing Skills it involves an intense awareness of the intended audience’s preferences and expectations. Writers must consider their familiarity with the topic, their demographics, and the desired level of engagement. Communication is more casual and relatable, aimed at a broader audience.

3/ Contextual Appropriateness: Formal writing skills are crucial in academic, professional, and official settings. They are necessary for research papers, business reporting, legal documents, and any situation where professionalism, accuracy, and authority are valued.

In contrast, Informal writing skills are useful in personal communications, such as emails to friends or family, personal blogs, social media posts, and informal essays. They allow for a more personal and engaging style of writing.

Examples of formal writing and informal writing

Formal Writing Example:

“Dear Mr. Johnson,

I am writing to formally ask for a meeting to strategize the budget plans for the next fiscal year. As the head of the finance department, I believe it is imperative that we address this matter in a timely manner. I kindly request your availability within the next week to schedule a meeting at your earliest convenience. Please let me know your preferred date and time.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


[Your Name]”

Informal Writing Example:

“Hey Johnson,

Just wanted to reach out and chat about the budget for next year. I think it’s important that we get together and discuss this soon. Please inform me of your availability, and we can schedule a meeting accordingly. I eagerly await your response.


[Your Name]”

In the formal writing example, the language is structured, uses proper salutations and signatures, and maintains a professional tone. The informal writing example, on the other hand, uses a more casual tone, abbreviations, and a conversational style.

Example of formal writing sentence

Example 1:

“In accordance with the company’s policies and procedures, all employees are required to submit their timesheets by 5:00 PM every Friday. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action.”

Example 2:

“The research findings show a notable and meaningful connection between lack of sleep and cognitive performance, as supported by statistical evidence. These results provide valuable insights into the impact of sleep on cognitive abilities.”

Example of informal writing sentence:

Example 1:

“Hey, remember to turn in your timesheets by Friday, okay? We don’t want any trouble with the boss!”

Example 2:

“So, guess what? Turns out that not getting enough sleep seriously messes with your brainpower. Like, your brain just can’t function at its best when you’re sleep-deprived. Crazy, right?”

Difference between formal writing and academic writing

Formal Writing

Academic Writing

Primarily used in professional and official contexts.

Primarily used in academic or scholarly contexts, such as research papers and academic articles.

Focuses on conveying information accurately and professionally.

Emphasizes critical thinking, analysis, and scholarly discourse.

Tends to have a more impersonal and objective tone.

Requires the use of a formal and objective tone.

Uses formal vocabulary and avoids slang.

Incorporates specialized terminology, jargon, and discipline-specific language.

May include legal or technical documentation if relevant.

Emphasizes proper citation and referencing to support claims and acknowledge sources.

The structure follows established conventions, such as essay or report formats.

Adheres to a specific structure, such as introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Difference between formal and informal language use in academic writing

In academic writing, there is a distinct difference between formal and informal language use. Formal language in academic writing is precise, objective, and follows established conventions, while informal language is more relaxed and subjective.

Formal language avoids personal pronouns, focuses on objectivity, and utilizes specialized vocabulary. It adheres to grammatical and structural conventions for clarity. Informal language includes personal pronouns, colloquialisms, and a conversational tone.

Difference between formal, informal, and personal writing


Formal Writing

Informal Writing

Personal Writing


Convey information professionally

Express ideas casually

Share personal thoughts or experiences


Impersonal and objective

Relaxed and conversational

Reflective and subjective


Formal vocabulary and proper grammar

Everyday language and colloquial expressions

Personal style and informal language use

Sentence Structure

Structured and adheres to conventions

Flexible, shorter sentences and fragments

Varied sentence structure, more freedom


Professional or official contexts

General audience or familiar recipients

Intimate audience or specific individuals


Specialized terminology, jargon

Everyday words and colloquialisms

Personal preferences and expressions

Structure and Organization

Clear introduction, body, conclusion

Looser structure, informal organization

Flexible structure, personal organization

What are the similarities between informal and formal writing

While informal and formal writing differs in their overall tone, style, and purpose, there are still some similarities that can be identified. Here are a few commonalities between informal and formal writing:

  • Clear Communication: Both informal and formal writing aim to convey information or ideas effectively. They require clarity in expression and organization to ensure the intended message is understood by the reader.
  • Grammar and Spelling: Irrespective of the writing style, it is crucial to maintain proper grammar and spelling. Both informal and formal writing follow fundamental rules of grammar, including subject-verb agreement, accurate word choice, and appropriate punctuation.
  • Use of Paragraphs: Both informal and formal writing employ paragraphs to organize and structure ideas. Each paragraph centers around a specific topic or theme, offering a straightforward and concise delivery of information.
  • Use of Supporting Evidence: Both informal and formal writing benefit from the use of supporting evidence, although the level of formality may differ. Writers should back up their claims or arguments with relevant facts, examples, statistics, or expert opinions to strengthen their message.
  • Purpose-driven: Informal and formal writing shares the goal of conveying a message or achieving a specific purpose. While informality may allow for a more conversational tone, the ultimate objective remains to inform, persuade, or entertain the reader.

Which is better formal or informal writing? 

The choice between formal or informal writing should be based on the context, purpose, and audience. The key is to understand the expectations and requirements of the writing task and choose the appropriate style accordingly. Both formal and informal writing styles have their strengths and can effectively communicate messages, depending on the intended purpose and audience.

Tips for adapting writing style 

Adapting from formal to informal writing:

When transitioning from a formal to an informal writing style, consider the following tips:

  1. Understand the audience and context.
  2. Use appropriate language and tone.

Adapting from informal to formal writing:

When shifting from an informal to a formal writing style, keep in mind the following tips:

  1. Observe professional standards and conventions.
  2. Structure the content and maintain objectivity.

Note that these tips are based on our personal experience with formal and informal writing. Therefore, by following these tips, you can adapt your writing style effectively, whether transitioning from formal to informal or vice versa, ensuring clear and appropriate communication for your audience.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1) What is the difference between formal and informal speech?

Ans: Formal speech is structured and professional, used in formal settings like business or academic settings. Informal speech is relaxed, casual, and conversational. The formal speech follows grammar rules, while informal speech is spontaneous and familiar. The pace and delivery differ, with formal speech often prepared and measured, while informal speech flows naturally. 

Q2) What is the difference between formal and informal writing essay?

Ans: Formal and informal writing essays differ in tone, structure, and context. A formal essay follows language conventions and specific formatting, suited for academic and professional settings. An informal essay is relaxed, conversational, and personal, often found in emails and social media. 

Q3) Key differences between formal and informal communication?

Ans: Formal communication is professional, structured, and follows rules, while informal communication is relaxed and casual. Formal communication is used in official or professional settings, while informal communication is common in personal relationships. 

Q4) What is one difference between formal and informal rules? 

Ans: Formal rules are strict and have legal consequences when broken because they come from official sources. Informal rules, on the other hand, are more flexible and come from social norms and unwritten expectations within a specific group. The main difference is that formal rules have stronger consequences and come from official sources, while informal rules are more relaxed and based on social customs.

Aditya Soni

Aditya is the head of content at clearinfo and is responsible for improving the site's organic visibility. He is a certified SEO trainer and has worked with SaaS companies and startups to enhance their digital marketing presence. He is also an ahref fanboy. Click to connect with him on Twitter, and LinkedIn.  

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