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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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1.2 Written styles in everyday life

The style adopted in everyday written communication can vary too. You can probably think of times when you have chosen a different style to take into account who you were writing to and your reason for writing. This will have had an effect on the layout, formality and structure of your text as well as on your choice of vocabulary.

For example, a business email will be more formally organised and written than an email to a friend, and a text message may be very informally written, contain symbols and even grammatical errors.

Similarly, different newspapers may follow a different style depending on the readers they are addressing.

Activity 2

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Compare the different styles adopted by the UK newspapers The Guardian and The Sun to cover the topic of immigration. These are some of the things you could consider:

  • layout
  • size of text
  • use of images
  • use of colour
  • amount of text
  • the headlines.

Make some notes in the box below before comparing your answer to mine.

The covers of two newspapers.
Figure 2 The different styles of The Guardian and The Sun newspapers
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The Sun uses large fonts and images and vivid colours to illustrate the point made by the headlines. The amount of text is limited. The headline talks directly to the readers in ‘you tell him’, and uses colloquial speech with language such as ‘or else!’ and idioms like ‘draw a red line’.

The Guardian uses smaller fonts and fewer images. The news on immigration is not illustrated and colour is not used. The front page contains a large amount of text arranged on several columns. The headlines simply report information using more formal language such as ‘condemn’ and ‘immigration law’.

The two newspapers use different styles because they address readers who have different requirements. The Sun’s readers look for a light read, stories and language that relate to their everyday lives. The Sun fulfils these requirements through their distinctive use of fonts, colour, images and language. In contrast, The Guardian’s readers want to gain a deeper understanding of a range of stories and prefer a newspaper that provides a great deal of information presented in paragraphs.