Let's Go Formal

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13928

Ladies, pull out your long gowns. Gentlemen, brush off your tuxedos. It's time to get formal! No, we're not going to a fancy ball or a wedding. We're just going to write in our most formal style!



English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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A formal style is usually easy to recognize.

  • For example, which one of these men is dressed more formally?

man dressed differently

  • Which of these tables is set more formally?

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  • Which garden is more formal?

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  • That was easy, right?

Well, the same goes for writing in a formal style.

There are just a few simple rules to remember. Read on to learn more!

Just as you can easily recognize a formal style in clothes, table settings, gardens, and other areas, it's fairly easy to recognize a formal writing style, too.

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Click below to read a longer example of formal writing taken from Anecdotes of the Habits and Instinct of Animals by Mrs. R. Lee.

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  • What really separates formal writing from casual writing?

Formal writing:

  avoids contractions

it will instead of it'll
they will instead of they'll

  avoids abbreviations

television instead of TV
as soon as possible instead of ASAP

  avoids cliches (overused phrases)
      Example: It would be a waste of time.
Change to: It would not be an efficient use of time.
  avoids using the first-person or second-person point of view
      Example: You should follow your dreams if you want to be an inventor.
Change to: Inventors are those who have followed their own dreams.
  uses more formal words
      Examples: children instead of kids
fifty dollars instead of fifty bucks
  uses more precise language
      Example: Henry Ford had an awesome idea about creating cars.
Change to: Henry Ford discovered he could use machines to put automobile parts together and created the first affordable cars.
  uses longer, more complex sentences
      Example: The return of the birds in spring makes people happy.
Change to: When the birds return in springtime, and their happy songs fill the air, it brings joy to many hearts.


  • Why should you learn to write in a formal style?

It's important to learn a formal writing style because that's the style you will use in most of your school writing from now through high school and college. You may even use it in your work career as an adult.

Formal writing is used in business when writing reports and letters. It's used in academics when writing research papers and essays.

  • When should you write in a formal style?

It's important to know when to use a formal style and when you can use a more casual style. It all depends on your audience or who you are writing for.

Watch the video below to understand better.

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Now you know a formal writing style and when to use it.

Move to the Got It? section to review what you learned!

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