The Importance of a Proper Tone in Writing

Dear 3040 and Beyond:

I’m a new grad at a big firm and I think I’ve messed things up with my co-workers. They’ve been acting weird around me and my only office friend says I’ve been offending people in my emails. From my boss to my peers, it looks like I’ve made everyone mad. The thing is, I have no idea what kinds of stuff I could say in email that would piss people off! I’m a nice person and I haven’t had many problems like this before. Can you help?


In Hot Water

In response to the reader that sent in this question regarding their poor emails, I have several recommendations to make that will greatly help you in creating the perfect email for any given situation. As I noticed while reading your email sent to 3040 and Beyond, your tone appears to be the main problem that needs to be addressed. Tone is the key element of a writing that allows you to connect with your reader and convey your thoughts clearly and thoroughly. points out the importance of tone in writing, and punctuates the importance of knowing who you are writing to and the subject of your writing in deciding what tone should be used. If you are writing an email to a co-worker you can be more relaxed in your tone, however when speaking to upper management you should be more professional and to the point. Regardless of whether you are sending an email to a friendly co-worker or upper management, it is a must that you use proper email etiquette and start off the email with a salutation and end by signing off. Email etiquette is incredibly important, and does a phenomenal job of stressing proper email format and etiquette. Throughout your email to 3040 and Beyond,  you use sentence structures and grammatical punctuations that make your writing difficult to comprehend and relate to. Also, by switching your tone throughout your email I found it difficult to clearly understand what you were trying to convey, and found myself re-reading it several times in order to understand what you were asking.

I, myself, have had an issue with tone in the past, and a great example of this is when I think back to my writing class during my sophomore year of high school. We were given the instructions to write about a time in which we achieved great success and a time of experiencing our greatest failure. Looking back on my paper, I kept the same tone throughout and by doing so lost the value of describing my greatest failure. My positive and energetic tone carried through my entire paper from describing my greatest success and lingering into my greatest failure. I wasn’t able to make the connection i had wanted to with my audience by keeping the same tone throughout, whereas I should have evolved my tone as I described totally opposite events in my life.

As I take a step back, I realize how close you are to creating great emails, and it will only take more practice and revision in your emails/writing from here on out. I believe that the lack of a correct tone in your emails hurts your “reputation” as a writing in the business office, however this can be easily fixed. In order to correct your tone, you need to do some “pre-writing”before you actually begin typing an email. You should be asking yourself the questions: Who am I writing this email to? What is the subject/main points you are looking to address in your email? After you take these questions into consideration and begin to compile your email, you should be continually revising yourself and keeping these questions in the back of your mind, as illustrates. Display your tone through your writing, you can exemplify this in ways such as”While walking down Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago” instead of “As I was touring the city of Chicago.” This difference in writing creates the distinction in tones, and will enhance your writings in the mind of the reader as it instantly grabs their attention.






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Marketing major at the Leeds School of Business at CU-Boulder

5 thoughts on “The Importance of a Proper Tone in Writing

  1. I agree that email etiquette is very important and i agree that you need to make sure what tone to use. I also like how you used a personal example, I have had that happen to me as well, good post keep up the good work!

  2. Aaron, using the real world example from your sophomore writing class was great! When you learn these new writing concepts, you still might not be totally understanding of them after just reading about them. But when you apply them to real world examples, it makes these concepts a lot easier to understand. The first article you linked was very helpful.


  3. I like your post, you point out some thoughtful ideas. In the first paragraph you mentions that “If you are writing an email to a co-worker you can be more relaxed in your tone … be more professional and to the point” I agree with you because when we are writing our emails we need to think about who we are write for. This will not only need us to change the salutation of the e mail but also we need to select proper words when we are sending emails to our boss or managers. When we are in real work environment we may send emails to our customer, in that situation we also need to pay attention to use proper tone.

  4. Aaron,
    Your real world experience example was really interesting! I think that it is a perfect example of how we can lose sight of what we are trying to do in our writing and how easy it is to do it. I agree that it is very important to recognize what you are trying to make the audience understand and it is necessary to construct your writing to make it accomplish whatever goal have.

  5. Aaron,
    Referencing “in hot water’s” email and then providing areas for improvement was a great choice. I felt it would provide them with a great starting place to revise their emails. I also liked how you suggested pre-writing. As simple as it is, its an excellent way to make sure your email stays on topic and that you included all of the intended content in the email.

    – Christian

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