English Writing Style

The style of a piece of writing is the way in which features of the language are used to convey meaning, typically but not always within the constraints of more widely accepted conventions of usage, grammar, and spelling.

An individual's writing style may be a very personal thing. Organizations that employ writers or commission written work from individuals may require that writers conform to a standardized style defined by the organization. This allows a consistent readability of composite works produced by many authors, and promotes usability of, for example, references to other cited works.

In many kinds of professional writing aiming for effective transfer of information, adherence to a standardised style of writing helps readers make sense of what the writer is presenting. Many standardised styles are documented in style guides. Some styles are more widely used, others restricted to a particular journal. Adherence to no particular style is also a style in its own right; some may think it undesirable, others not.

Personal styles
All writing has some style, even if the author is not thinking about the style. It is important to understand that style reflects meaning. For instance, if a writer wants to express a torrent of euphoria, he might write in a style overflowing with expressive modifiers. Some writers use styles that are very specific, for example in pursuit of an artistic effect. Stylistic rule-breaking is exemplified by the poet. Every person has there own style of writing. E. E. Cummings, whose writing consists mainly of only lower case letters, and often uses unconventional typography, spacing, and punctuation.

Proprietary styles
Many large publications define a house style to be used throughout the publication, a practice almost universal among newspapers and well-known magazines. These styles can cover the means of expression and sentence structures, such as those adopted by Time. They may also include features peculiar to a publication; the practice at The Economist, for example, is that articles are rarely attributed to an individual author. General characteristics have also been prescribed for different categories of writing, such as in journalism, the use of SI units, or questionnaire construction.

Academic styles
University students, especially graduate students, are encouraged to write papers in an approved style. This practice promotes readability and ensures that references to cited works are noted in a uniform way. Typically, students are encouraged to use a style commonly adopted by journals publishing articles in the field of study. The list of Style Manuals & Guides, from the University of Memphis Libraries, includes thirty academic style manuals that are currently in print, and twelve that are available on-line. Citation of referenced works is a key element in academic style.