Writing with style



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Informal Style

Formal Style

May use numerals for numbers

1, 5, 20, 100, 150

Write out numbers of one or two words

one, two hundred, one million

Use numerals for numbers of three or more words

201, 47.5, 1,005

Use numerals for dates

July 19, 2001 20 May 2001

Write out any number beginning a sentence

Twenty-five thousand dollars was more than he could afford.

My use contractions

can’t, won’t, shouldn’t

Write out all contractions

cannot, will not, should not

May use first, second, or third person pronouns:


1st I, me, we, us

2nd you

3rd he, she, it, they, them

Keep writing entirely in third person, or use first person sparingly.

Eliminate second person (you) entirely; substitute he, she, they, a person, people, one, or another noun.

Resist the temptation to overuse the impersonal one:



Impersonal: One finds the hottest temperatures in equatorial zones.

Revised: The hottest temperatures can be found in equatorial zones.

May abbreviate to save time and space.

U.S., Feb., TV, N.Y.

Spell out most abbreviations

United States, February, television, New York

Never use etc. or &

May use abbreviations in standard use (never written out)

Mr., Mrs., PhD, a.m., p.m.



May use slang or colloquial expressions


a lot, kids, guy, jerk, mess around, swipe, awesome, blab, etc.

Eliminate slang and colloquial expressions.


Substitute many, much, a great deal, or a specific amount for a lot.

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