A recent study published in the journal English for Specific Purposes found that some scientific writing is becoming more casual. The study evaluated academic writing from 1965, 1985, and 2015 for ten markers of informal writing:
- First person pronouns
- Unattended anaphoric pronouns
- Split infinitives
- Starting a sentence with a conjunction
- Ending a sentence in a preposition
- Listing expressions (e.g., “and so on”)
- Second person pronouns (e.g., you, your)
- Direct questions
- Exclamation marks
The study authors found that informal features in academic papers increased, particularly in the biology field, where use of these informal features jumped 24 percent.
It begs the question: Does this suggest a shift towards more casual writing for all fields? And when is casual writing okay and when is it not?
What is casual?
First, we should expand a little more on what casual writing is. It is a type of writing that is comfortable ignoring certain grammar rules. How you define casual writing depends largely on your field. Scientists might consider my Copy Corners casual writing, while I consider them conversational.
Personally, I view casual writing as what I see on social media (that’s really casual) and on the cooking blogs I frequent. For example, you’ll likely see writers ignore more grammar rules in casual writing. They might have more run-on sentences or use too many exclamation points in their writing.
Is all writing becoming more casual?
Again, it depends on your definition of casual. Personally, I believe writing across most fields is becoming more conversational. Rather than lecturing readers, many writers are attempting to engage readers, referring to their businesses as we and us, referring to members of the business by first name.
This helps make the reader more comfortable without diminishing the business’s authority.
Is it okay for my business?
As usual, it depends on the circumstances. Are you a law school student writing a paper? Casual is not the best way to go. Are you a food blogger? Then you can get away with casual writing.
It also depends on what you’re writing. While you might write an article in a more conversational or formal tone, your social media post sharing the article can be more casual.
As always, be consistent. Your brand should have the same voice in all content. Your readers will be confused if they go to your site and see one page with slang and casual writing and another with technical jargon they can barely understand.
Before you start writing, define your brand. If you decide you want to be approachable, consider a casual or conversational type of writing. Just remember, once you define your voice, stick to it.
Give us a call if you need help with content writing: 888-521-3880.