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All texts that are composed have a style. Refer to the animation Style in spoken text lesson for an explanation of how this works in spoken texts

There are a number of words and techniques that have been used to describe the style of the three examples. Register, tone and language are crucial elements of style. They will be the main focus of this chapter.


Register is an important concept for composing and responding to a spoken text. It is a concept that refers to particular types of language that are used for particular purposes. From above, Example One has a formal register while Example Two has an informal register. Informal and formal registers will be the focus here.

To achieve a formal register, a composer needs to use formal language. This means that the composer will use correct grammar and avoid any colloquial language, slang or jargon. The types of texts where you will find a formal register will be in formal speeches such as from your principal on speech night or from the prime minister.

The best way to determine whether a text that you compose should have a formal register is to consider the audience and the purpose. For example, would you use a formal register when emailing a friend? What if you were applying for a job?

To achieve an informal register, a composer needs to use informal language. This means that the composer does not need to use absolutely correct grammar and can use colloquial language and slang. Examples where you could use or see texts with an informal register might include talking to friends. You should consider the purpose and audience of the text and think, 'What register would be most effective to reach my audience?'

When analysing texts, register should be one of the first things that you consider. This will help you decide what the purpose of a text is, as well as the intended audience.


There is sometimes confusion as to the exact meaning of tone in speaking. Here are some examples of words that you could use to describe tone (again, this list is not exhaustive):

  • Funny, serious, angry, exciting, personal, affecting, informed, knowledgeable, intelligent, interesting, engaging, conversational.

Tone works in spoken texts in much the same way as it does in real life. A real-life example you might have experienced is sending an email that contained a joke, but the person on the receiving end thought you were serious. In this case the responder did not understand the tone that you used. Refer to the animation Tone in spoken texts lesson for examples of how tone changes in spoken texts.