Tone is the attitude a writer adopts in writing. A writer's attitude shows how he feels about or perceives a topic, so he may express anger, bitterness, optimism or sadness through his vocabulary and sentence structure. If you're trying to persuade an audience, use a tone that will produce such an effect. An overly critical or arrogant tone, for instance, can offend. Instead, draw your readers' sympathy or appeal to their sense of reason.

Inciting to Action

A letter to your local government representative asking for safer pedestrian crossings or an essay challenging readers to buy produce locally are both examples of persuasive writing that call for action. Arguing for safer pedestrian crossings is most effective with an urgent, pressing tone that uses phrases of warning, such as "don't delay any longer" or "lives may be at stake." Buying food locally may not be a pressing issue, so an informative tone that relies on logic and scientific studies or research to convince is more appropriate in this case.

Drawing Sympathy

A nature magazine article could attempt to draw sympathy from its readers for the plight of an endangered animal near the edge of extinction. Emphasizing the animal's positive attributes, such as harmlessness to humans, as well as its endearing physical features, such as a cute little nose or sleek fur, may influence the reader to feel pity for the species' unfortunate plight. The tone has to remain factual, however; if a persuasive piece becomes overly sentimental or sappy or the writer interjects her own negative emotions into it, the reader might distance himself from the text.


Sometimes political leaders or professional athletes publish apologies in newspapers or on the Internet for a scandal they involved themselves in or an inflammatory remark they made. In any kind of apology, the writer needs to maintain a genuine feeling of remorse to persuade the reader to take the apology seriously and believe that the writer truly regrets the offense. Writing "I'm sorry, but you can't blame me" demonstrates that the writer does not take full responsibility for her actions and therefore cannot be truly sorry.

Building Authority

Whether writing a persuasive essay or a professional resume, sometimes writers have to establish their credibility on a subject. This means convincing the reader that you are qualified to hold an opinion on this topic because of your experience, knowledge or character. For example, if you apply for an accounting position, you need to describe your mathematical expertise in a concise and objective manner, without sounding boastful or arrogant. "At my previous company I regularly performed tax audits" sounds better than "I am a math whiz and can solve any kind of math problem you can throw at me."