I recently discussed the Oxford comma and Singular they. Both these are typical examples of style in writing. That is, there is no right or wrong answer concerning their use; it all depends on personal preference. So does the question of the writing style you choose: Associated Press, Chicago Manual, MLA, etc. This handy guest post by EllenRoyce describes the various styles and their differences. Ellen is an experienced marketer, copywriter, and entrepreneur. Having started several small businesses online, she knows the importance of effective content marketing in building companies.

Which Writing Style Should You Choose in 2021?

Content writing styles | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book

If you’ve got a digital product that keeps growing, you need to start increasing your number of content creators. And to make sure they all maintain the same voice and tone in their writings, you need to provide a content style guide. But which writing style formats should you prefer in 2021?

How to improve the writing style of your staff? You can send out content style guides that set the basic editorial rules for all writing across platforms. That enables the content contributors to keep a consistent tone, which makes your business look more professional. It also allows you to address your target market more effectively. Whether you run an online market or a little e-commerce shop, everything from grammar to layouts and voice communicates your brand message.

But with so many available options, how would you choose the right writing style in 2021? This article is here to help you with that. We outlined some of the most popular content style guides available these days, went into their general rules and specific instructions. Take a look and then decide which writing style matches your particular business the best.

Associated Press Writing Style (AP)

Associated Press style is a writing style game-changer for anyone just starting to use it. It gives you the general guidelines for not only writing news. Most quality content writers use it for blog articles because this style guide covers so many topics. It has special sections for sports, food, fashion, etc., and deals with a comprehensive list of writing issues from capitalization to numbers and abbreviating words. Underlining, italics, and other extras are rare in this style as put together specifically for news wiring.

The AP style is also vital for your company’s public relations. Writing your press releases with AP makes them more likely to attract the attention of journalists. They would not pick your information for news coverage unless it follows their rules.

So, if you’re searching for the best writing style for a blog article, you don’t have to look very far. The AP style guide is a popular choice that sets the quality of your content to a competitive level. The only downside is that the guidelines are updated every spring, so it can be hard to keep up with the new rules. However, these days you can find all the updates conveniently from the internet.

Chicago Manual (Mainly for Book Publishing)

If you are an author or even if your marketing strategy entails coming up with a lead magnet in the form of an e-book, you should go with the writing style known as Chicago Manual (CMS). It’s the standard for non-fiction book publishing. Its size may be intimidating, but the pages are full of useful time-tested grammar tips.

You can find plenty of information in the CMS book that is missing from other style guides. Here’s an example: if you need to shorten a book title, you can’t find the right formatting advice from the AP guide. But it’s present in the Chicago Manual. Or maybe you need to get the punctuation right in your bullet points. You can find this topic only in CMS. Whichever style you end up choosing, it’s good to have something as comprehensive as CMS for backup.

Modern Language Association (for Academic Writing)

The Modern Language Association style (MLA) is used in humanities and literature, but it’s mostly applied to academic writing. It is pretty similar to the Chicago Manual style, but with more emphasis on documentation and citation. If you’re writing articles for the blog around your small business, you might opt for other writing style examples. For example, a website with games could provide fun content to its fans using the AP style. But even if you are a student and write an essay on a game topic, the MLA style, such as in this article about Fruit Slot, will suit you.

Formal Writing Style

The formal writing style doesn’t have a separate manual for guidance. But this style is essential for anyone writing a job or college application. It’s not a simple style to write in, but here’s the thing: it’s a style that’s super easy to read. That’s because formal writing aims to go straight to the point, present well-constructed arguments, and most of all: be as clear as possible.

Here are three formal style recommendations that help you sound more professional in your applications:

1. Use concrete sentences

Abstract language may sound cool, but it doesn’t work in applications. If you aim to persuade people with your writing, your message needs to be as direct as possible. Literary techniques like hyperboles and alliteration are better for novel writing. You’ll be much more convincing in supporting your argument with concrete and clear examples.

2. Active voice

The thing is that using active voice makes the sentence easy to understand. Going with the passive voice makes the sentence sound unnecessarily complex. A simple sentence in active voice looks like this: Martin plays a game. The same sentence in passive voice looks like this: a game is played by Martin.

3. No exaggeration

The simple truth about using an exaggeration even once is that it makes the reader mistrust everything you’ve written. And you don’t want anyone to doubt your qualifications in a job application. You can only gain your reader’s trust by not overstating things.

These were the four most popular and commonly used guides to writing styles: the AP, CMS, MLA, and formal style. Now, let’s look at some writing style ideas that are only for specific occasions.

Alternative Writing Styles

  • Harvard Style, aka the Author-Data citation style, is a must-have guide for correct referencing. However, the guidelines are not in a separate book. You can find a Harvard Citation generator online.
  • ASA: The style guide for The American Sociological Association.
  • Bluebook is for correct citations in legal texts.
  • ACS. Are you a chemist or writing about chemistry? Then you need this American Chemical Society’s crib sheet.
  • CSE: The Council of Science Editors Manual is to nail the style of biology texts.
  • AMA: The American Medical Association published its 10th style guide edition two years ago. It’s widely followed for medicine writing.


Hopefully, this writing style list gives you an idea of which rule book to get for your next piece of content. It’s vital to keep a consistent voice in all your texts across platforms. And if you’re applying for a job, then clarity and directness should be your primary aim. You can probably see how a writing style helps achieve any of these goals. So pick one today and take the quality of your content to a new level. With the right guide, it’s easier than you think.

Happy writing!