Voice vs Tone

Quite often, people use the terms “voice” and “tone” interchangeably in terms of writing.

It can be useful to think of these terms as being slightly different from each other. Your “voice” is the personality that you show through your writing. The way that your personality, emotion and character expresses itself. 

Your “tone” is the attitude that you use through your writing – Masterclass suggest that this can usually be described through one or more of these words: cheerful, dry, assertive, lighthearted, regretful, humorous, pessimistic, nostalgic, melancholic, facetious, joyful, sarcastic, arrogant, persuasive, uneasy, regretful, reverent, inspirational.


Take a moment to write a few dot points.

Describe your personality.

If you need help, start with this list of words and choose the ones most appropriate to you.


Your written voice and your spoken voice are likely to be quite different.

Either by yourself, or with the help of a friend, try to describe how your personality expresses itself through the way that you talk to your friends. Think about the kind of words that you use, your usual volume, where you look when you speak to people, the speed of your speech, and other qualities of your voice.


For each of the four characters in Voices in the Park – The Mum, The Dad, Charles and Smudge – describe their personality.

Then, explain how the language, the imagery, and the font used in their section expresses their personality to us.

You might want to use a table like the one below

Character Personality Language Imagery Font
The Mum
The Dad


Describe the personality of the writers behind these first person articles. For each of them, try to explain how you have reached your conclusion – perhaps through using quotes.

Martin Flanagan – How will I cope when my little mate goes away?

Rick Reilly – What’s not to like?

Richard Flanagan – Tasmania is Burning

Alexandra Petri – Some Interpersonal Verbs, Conjugated By Gender

Patti Smith – My Buddy


Spend some time writing an anecdote about your own life.

Through your anecdote, think about the personality that you described earlier. How can you express your personality through your choices of language, rhythm, and tone in your writing?

Do not try to express a perspective through this piece of writing. Instead, just focus on telling a story through your voice.