Tone of Text

We all learned what tone is in English class:

Tone is the way writers express their attitude through their writing. Yet, people have a difficult time interpreting the tone of texts.

It’s not just the diction (the writer’s choice of words) that influences readers’ interpretation of the tone of texts, but what they know about the writer of the text, when they read the texts, how the text was read, what they believe.



What they know about the writer of the text

  • Has the reader talked to the writer? (In person? On the phone?)
  • What does the reader know about the writer’s background, personality, interests, etc.?



When they read the text

  • What mood was the reader in? (Good? Bad? Neutral?)
  • What events happened leading up to when the reader read the text?



How the text was read

  • Did the reader read the entire message?
  • Did the reader read the text in a different order than what the writer intended it to be in?



What they believe

  • What influenced the reader to interpret the text in a particular way?
  • What strong beliefs do they have?

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