Voice and Word Choice


Voice (tone) in writing is determined by the topic, the audience, and the writer's abilities. If the topic or audience is academic, the voice should be academic. If the topic or audience is professional, the voice should be professional. If the piece is being written for young people and is supposed to be fun, the voice should speak to the young people and be fun.

The writer's word choice will be affected by the voice he or she uses. Academic-related words will be appropriate for academic writing. For professional writing, profession-related jargon is acceptable. Writing for teenagers is an excuse to use slang and fun language.


  • The writer should be comfortable writing in the voice in which he or she is writing.
  • Humor can also be used when appropriate.
  • Clichés should be avoided.

Word Choice

Voice can establish the parameters of word choice, but other factors are involved with finding just the right word. The writer should read the piece aloud and ask him-or herself these questions:

  • Do any words sound weak or awkward?
  • Do any words simply not fit the meaning of what I wanted to convey?
  • Are some words repeated too often?
  • Are all of the words used correctly?
  • Am I using big words that do not fit into the sentence?
  • Will my audience understand my words?
  • Do the words fit the voice?

If some words sound weak or awkward or do not fit, the writer should use a thesaurus to find similar words that may be better choices. A thesaurus can be found in book form, online, or in Microsoft® Word. This resource is also a very effective tool for finding replacements for repeated words. If the author is not sure that a word is used correctly, he or she should find that word in a dictionary. Many online dictionaries are available. Properly chosen words will sound natural and lend credibility to the writing.

The author must also consider the audience when choosing words, ensuring that the readers will understand the text. Each word should also correspond with the voice used. Any out-of-place word will be a distraction.


  • Do not try to impress the audience with big words that are unneeded.
  • If the writer takes the time to find just the right words, the audience can have an enjoyable reading experience.