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An Overview of Style: Three Levels of Diction and Plain Style Writing

Reina was a student in Information Technology. She is passionate about writing for magazines, newspapers, and web content.


Style is the author's voice in writing. It is a unique way of communicating thoughts using words. As you might have a particular preference for clothing, every writer also has a personal style. There is no standard writing style in literature.

Writing style sets the tone of the writing piece. It describes the author's attitude about the subject. Choice of words and the structure of sentences affect the author's writing style.

While there's no ultimate writing style in literature, online writers have a common choice. They prefer writing in plain style because it is clear, concise, and precise. It appeals to a broad audience.

Elements of Style

As mentioned, choice of words and sentence structure influence an author's writing style. These two things are essential for finding the right style for your article.

  • Diction - refers to the author's word choice. Using the right words for a particular situation helps set the mood to evoke emotion from the readers.
  • Syntax - refers to the sentence structure. It is the arrangement of words in a sentence. It also covers the length of the sentences in an article.

Punctuation is another essential element of style. Some writing guides treat it separately, but it may also be part of the syntax. Punctuations also affect writing style.

Levels of Diction

Diction in writing comes in three different levels. These categories help you determine the right words to use for a particular audience.

  • High or Elevated - This level uses formal language. It is best for dissertations, research papers, and ceremonial speeches.
  • Middle or Neutral - This is the kind of diction used in essays and newspaper articles. When writing for a broad audience, use this level.
  • Low or Informal - You use this diction for texting friends or posting on social media. It involves slang or colloquial speech. Magazine advertisements also use this kind of diction.

There are two ways to find the right words to use for your writing. You can use a word for its real meaning in the dictionary or its implied meaning in a particular context. Understanding the denotation and connotation of a word helps determine the proper diction for your article.


How To Write Plain Style

Writing in plain style works best for a general audience. It uses simple language easily understood by most readers. Here are a few quick tips for writing plainly.

  • Make it brief. - Short and simple sentences are easy to read. Longer sentences tend to become vague and complicated. Twenty words are ideal for giving instructions. Make that 25 when explaining concepts. Beyond that may confuse your readers.
  • Use active voice. - Sentences in active voice are shorter than in passive voice. They are also easier to understand. They stress the action rather than the agent doing the act.
  • Keep them simple. - Highfalutin words may not appeal to all types of readers. Avoid hyperbole if you can use words with their literal meaning. As expert content writers would say, cut the fluff and go straight to the point.
  • No jargon, please. - Alien words are pretty frustrating to read. Unless you're speaking to a specific group, avoid them. Some of your audience may not be familiar with those words.
  • Simplify terminologies. - You may want to use synonyms to avoid repeating words. However, using multiple terms for a single idea may also be confusing. Be clear and consistent with those terms.
  • Change nouns to verbs. - Here's another trick to make sentences short. Most verbs don't need many words to convey a thought. Using the verb form of nouns in a sentence makes clear, concise statements.
  • Begin with the obvious. - Some online writers use an inverted pyramid to structure their blogs. Journalists also use it for writing news articles. Begin with the general facts and develop the idea to reveal specific details or information.
  • Put matters in order. - When talking about events, arrange them in the order they occur. It makes relevant information easy to spot. Online readers will usually skim through your article to find what they need.
  • Use Punctuations Wisely - Punctuations should be part of your writing arsenal. It gives rhythm to your article. Make sure to understand when to use a comma and semicolon. Using the wrong punctuation mark affects your writing style.

These are only a few best practices for writing in plain style discussed in Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Other writers may still have their techniques, but this list teaches essential skills for writing an impressive blog. It is helpful to get started with online writing.


An author's choice of words and the structure of their sentences determine their writing style. It gives a unique voice to their story. A writer can use different voices for writing articles in various situations. However, online writing experts recommend writing in plain style.

Knowing your writing style helps you build a solid foundation for your writing career. Understanding the different levels of diction helps to determine the appropriate language to use for your writeup. It gives you the ability to use many voices for various writing projects.

Various publications have an ideal language for writing pieces. You have to know when to use formal language or colloquial speech. Online publications prefer a neutral and conversational tone. Hence, writing in plain style is best for online writing.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Reina Mendoza

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