What Are the Purposes of Diction?

Vocabulary plays a key role in establishing style, tone and the credibility of a writer. You must use appropriate words in writing to convey thoughts clearly. Diction is the overall choice of language, or words, for your writing. It plays a significant role in the quality of your writing. Style in writing is as important as substance. Poor style and tone impede effective communication.

Formal Diction

Words are the tools for writing. You use them to create color and texture in your writing. The lexicon you employ to convey your thoughts reflects the level of formality in your writing. Formal diction is basically the language used by educated people to write scholarly articles. When you read a scholarly article, it is usually written in sophisticated and, sometimes, technical language to give it an elevated discourse. That kind of writing usually alludes to books, events or ideas that can't be grasped by a reader with less education.

Informal Diction

Informal diction refers to the language educated people use in everyday conversation. It is also commonly used in journalism and expository writing, mainly targeting mass consumption. The purpose of informal diction is to allow an ordinary person to read and understand a piece of writing. Although such language is characterized by prose, it is not the same as colloquial speech. Colloquial language is commonly associated with people with minimal, if any, education. In writing, colloquial and slang is sometimes used to capture moods. In writing, the use of specific diction can allow the reader to enter the writer's world.

Topics and Purpose

The subject of your writing plays a significant role in determining the type and sophistication of your diction. The idea is to use appropriate language in your article. If you're writing about computers, for instance, you have to use specialized words including email, e-commerce, interface and the web. The writer's purpose to write on a certain topic partly determines diction.


Whether you're writing to entertain, persuade, amuse or simply to inform, your choice of words must impart a certain effect in the reader to reflect the purpose of your work. The ability of a word to elicit a strong reaction from the reader usually derives from its connotative meaning. For instance, the writer chooses to use the world slender instead of gaunt for a reason. Sometimes the writer uses words in a surprising way to make you re-examine the meaning. The best writers usually employ complexity instead of simplicity to convey multiple meanings instead of precision. They use diction as the voice to shape the reader's thinking.

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