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Voice: Make yourself heard

One way that writers can save themselves time and stress is to put some thought into selecting the voice - or range of voices - they will use in their written texts.

What point of view or tone do you want to convey? How do you grab the attention of your readers? How will you make your point? How can you find your voice?

Some of the factors to consider include:

  • the general subject matter of the text as a whole,
  • the intended audience,
  • the focus of the specific passage,
  • and the reaction the passage is intended to invoke in the reader.

For example, a section of a scientific paper outlining the testing of a new pharmaceutical preparation should describe the study methodology differently (probably more dispassionately) than an argument in a rhetorical theory paper supporting the choice of one analytical approach against another.  

While each of these papers might be written for an audience of professional peers, the aim of one passage would be to reassure the readers that all the expected scientific precautions were taken, while the other passage might be intended to convince readers that a certain old approach should be dismissed and a particular new one endorsed (or vice versa).

Once you have an idea how you would like for readers to respond to the section you are writing, the next challenge is to choose the grammatical and stylistic tools that will best make the point you intend. Make your words count!

For more on the topic of voice in academic writing, see Voice: Active vs passive and Voice: Which person are you?



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