Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

English Comp II: Formal & Informal Writing

Formal vs. Informal Writing

Formal vs. Informal

Characteristic Informal Essay Formal Essay
Author's viewpoint Usually uses first-person pronoun; directly addresses the reader. Usually uses third-person pronoun.

Subject/content: Sources  of Evidence

Frequently drawn from life of student and everyday events. More commonly drawn from shared historical events or literature or other forms of knowledge.
Tone Frequently more personal and subjective; may be ironic, amusing, thoughtful, angry or serious; conversational and casual. Tends to be removed from subject and appears to be objective; holds emotions in check; expresses concerns through strong arguments/powerful rhetorical devices.
Structure Appears to be more loosely structured. Structure focuses on the development of one clear argument at a time.
Location of the research purpose/question May appear anywhere in the essay; may not be explicitly stated. Stated explicitly, generally in first or second paragraph.
Vocabulary Slang; contractions; use of "you" and "I". Technical words; no slang or contractions; avoids "you" and "I".
Purpose Entertainment; gentle reflection. Presentation of facts and ideas with critical evaluation.