Using Appropriate Voice

Lacking facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice, in writing we make choices about words and phrases to communicate our thoughts and feelings to our readers. Before we write, we must decide how we feel about our subject.  The city council’s plan to reduce funding for public transportation may please you, disturb you, or anger you.  An act of kindness between acquaintances may inspire appreciation or may instill a sense of unwanted obligation. Carefully chosen words and details communicate the tone in which we want audiences to interpret the text.

In persuasive writing, we frequently suppress our own voice.  Being too passionate may cause our audience to become skeptical.  Business reports, scientific papers, and appeals to neutral audiences may require suppressing our personal beliefs.  Conventions in academic writing require focusing on research rather than researchers, and influencing others often requires focus on documented information rather than emotional appeal.