Descriptive Writing: Register

Descriptive Writing: Register

Understanding Register

  • Register refers to the level of formality and style used in a piece of writing.
  • Just like tone, register is influenced by your intended audience and the purpose of your writing.
  • Some examples of different registers include: formal, informal, colloquial, academic, professional, and casual, amongst others.
  • Consistency is key. Once you’ve set a register, ensure it’s maintained throughout your piece of writing.

Using Register Effectively

  • Your choice of vocabulary significantly impacts register. Formal register often includes complex words and specific jargon, while informal register uses simpler, everyday language.
  • Sentence structure also plays a part. Formal writing is likely to feature complex and compound sentences, whilst a more casual register might include sentence fragments and conversational phrases.
  • The active or passive voice can influence register. Formal writing often uses the passive voice (‘The experiment was conducted’), while informal writing typically uses the active voice (‘We conducted the experiment’).
  • Punctuation use can also contribute to register. For example, contractions are usually avoided in formal writing but are common in an informal register.

Adapting Register

  • Understanding how to adapt your register is vital, especially when writing for different audiences, or incorporating dialogue into imaginative writing.
  • If you’re writing dialogue for a character, consider their background, age, education, and situation. This will help to determine the authenticity of their speech.
  • Be mindful of jargon or slang in your writing. While these can add authenticity, too much can make your writing difficult to understand.

Checking Your Work

  • During proofreading, scrutinise your register. Ensure it’s consistent, and matches your audience and purpose.
  • If possible, read your work aloud. This can help you to identify if the register is fitting or if it feels forced or unnatural.
  • Seek external feedback. Different perspectives can provide valuable insights into whether your register is effective or not.