The Different Types of Tones in Writing with Examples

different types of tones in writing

If you want your writing to be as multifaceted and engrossing as possible, it is important that you know how to efficiently use tones. What is tone, though? What makes it so important to the writing process? How do you actually use tone in your writing. This article will answer those questions and so much more.

What is Tone in Writing?

It is the way a writer uses words to convey non-verbal observations about specific subjects. By using specific tones and tone words in your manuscripts and poems, you will be able to convey facts, emotions and concepts more effectively.

Importance of tone in writing

Writing tone is very important because it is one of the most effective ways to convey emotion and context to your writing. Tones are a bit tricky to use though. If you don’t use the right tone, your readers might misunderstand your intent, and have a negative perception of you and your writing.

How to Develop Your Writing Tone

If you want to effectively develop the tone in your writing, you should be willing to experiment with the types of tone. The more you practice with writing tones, the better your writing style will be. Before you start using specific tones in your writing, it always helps to know which tone is best to use. 

So, what are the different types of tones in writing? Here are some examples:

1. Sad

If you want your readers to be emotionally invested in your writing, it is a good idea to utilize a sad tone in your writing. Sadness is a core emotional state for most people. 

We feel sad whenever something unfortunate happens to us or someone close to us. We could also feel sad whenever we empathize with someone. 

This person does not need to be close to us either. When you use a sad tone in your writing, your main goal should be to make the reader more sympathetic to your main character. 

This empathy will keep them interested in the story.


  • She died so suddenly…she was too young to depart this world.
  • The young man lost his hope, his love, and ultimately his life.
  • The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself. As if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.” -John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

sad tone in writing

2. Horror

Horror is all about surprise and fear. When you use a horror-filled tone, your main intent should be to shock your readers to the core. 

Give them a fearful situation that they will have to confront.


  • He went down the well, only to find Bobby’s severed head at the bottom.
  • As the demon approached, a cold and foreboding feeling crept into the room.
  • “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” -Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven

3. Pessimistic

Being pessimistic is a state of mind wherein you expect the worst to happen. This does not really show the reality of the situation and is more like a mindset.


  • As far as I know, we’ll never reach home.
  • The enemy are too many! We’ll be slaughtered.
  • “All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.” -Edgar Allan Poe

4. Humorous

This tone is by far one of the most useful tones because it allows you to draw your readers into the story. It is a very multifaceted tone. 

It not only makes your readers laugh, but it also lightens the overall mood of your writing.


  • She fell into the pool, amid laughter and applause.
  • The pie fell on the young lad’s face, yet he seemed very happy about it.
  • You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.” -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

5. Optimistic

Like the pessimistic tone, the optimistic tone is more like a state of mind, rather than being a signifier of the reality within the story. The tone usually takes place in the narrator’s mind and is a reaction to a specific situation within the story.


  • He’s strong but lacks finesse. I believe I could beat him.
  • I don’t know why, but I feel very lucky today. A quick trip to the lottery office is in order.
  • There is nothing sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name.” -Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux


6. Joy

Joy is by far one of the purest of all positive emotions and could be used as a specific tone to create a lighter and happier atmosphere in your writing. This type of tone is usually used in character interaction situations and is meant to create a sense of positivity in the story.


  • It warms my heart that you all came to my party!
  • Words failed him when he saw the huge library. It was a paradise for any bibliophile.
  • “Stars are always dancing. Sometimes they dance twinkling away with the rhythm of your joyful heart and sometimes they dance without movement to embrace your heartache as if frozen sculptures of open-armed sadness.” -Munia Khan

7. Encouraging

If you are going to use an encouraging tone, you should take a more understanding and supportive frame of mind. The encouraging tone is meant to uplift, and reassure readers. 

It could also be used to assuage readers about a specific fear that they have.


  • Don’t worry, as long as you do your part, we will succeed.
  • This endeavor of ours is close to completion. Don’t stop now!
  • “So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” -Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

8. Cooperative

When you use a cooperative tone, you should choose your words as carefully as possible. This type of tone is usually used in the workplace, or in situations where you will need group members to do their part. 

The tone should emanate a positive outlook on the job, and compel your audience to do their part.


  • If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear it.
  • As members of the same class, it would be wonderful if you could all attend the reunion.
  • I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.” -Neil Gaiman

9. Curious

When you use a curious tone in your writing, your main goal should be to compel your audience to get curious about a specific topic. It could be an unsolved mystery, or an unanswered query, what’s important is that you compel your readers to dig deeper and learn more about the topic.


  • An old book? I wonder if it is a first edition copy.
  • This old sword is rusted but still sharp… how is that possible?
  • “The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” -T.H. White, The Once and Future King

10. Worried

This tone’s main intent is to make the reader apprehensive about a character or topic. In order to use a worried tone, you should use specific words and scenarios that will create a sense of unease and anxiety in your readers.


  • I am afraid that rickety bridge won’t be able to hold us both.
  • That area is the no man’s land and is lined with machine guns and trenches. I fear I won’t be able to get through this gauntlet.
  • Just now,
Out of the strange
Still dusk . . . as strange, as still . . .
A white moth flew . . . Why am I grown
So cold? -Adelaide Crapsey

11. Nostalgic

A nostalgic tone is meant to evoke a fondness for times long past. This is a useful tone if you have your characters reminiscing about their younger days or the way things were when they were younger. 

This tone could also be used if you are writing about specific eras such as the 70s or 80s.


  • I remember the war… how young and strong we were.
  • Do you still remember the taste of those strawberries? They were so sweet and tart.
  • “It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded. It looks as if they were victims of a conspiracy; for the books they read, ideal by the necessity of selection, and the conversation of their elders, who look back upon the past through a rosy haze of forgetfulness, prepare them for an unreal life. They must discover for themselves that all they have read and all they have been told are lies, lies, lies; and each discovery is another nail driven into the body on the cross of life.” -W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

12. Inspirational

This tone is meant to inspire readers to commit to a task or ideal. This could be used in a story where your main character calls his comrades to fight for an ideal. 

It could also be used in self-help books where you call on your reader to strive for something. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it with the inspirational language because it might sound corny.


  • Remember all the men and women who died for this cause…honor them by fighting on.
  • The young man ran the race. With only one leg, he bounded like a deer…oblivious to the limitations of this world.
  • “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” -Neil Gaiman, Coraline


When it comes to making your writing as effective as possible, it is important that you know how to use tones. By using these tones in your manuscripts and poems, you will be able to add a whole new facet to your writing. 

Remember though, that these are not the only tones out there. If you want to further expand your writing prowess, it is a good idea to experiment with other tones.

Happy writing!  

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