Read the following two sentences:“The woman slammed the door behind her, threw her bag on the floor and slumped into a kitchen chair, where she poured herself a much-needed glass of wine.”***“The woman closed the door behind her, hung up her bag and perched herself in a kitchen chair, where she poured herself a well-deserved glass of wine.” The first sentence uses words with negative connotation—slammed, threw, slumped, much-needed; giving the feeling that the woman had a difficult day.The second uses positive and neutral—closed, hung up, perched, much-deserved—giving the feeling that the woman had a long but successful day.When writing or speaking, a word’s connotation should help set the tone as positive or negative, and should be selected with its implications in mind.
Each website’s tone of voice could be expressed as a point in the 4-dimensional space described by these dimensions.
To see how these 4 dimensions of tone can be varied to create different effects, let’s consider a small piece of copy that almost every content team has to consider at some point — an error message.
Certain situations may call for words with a positive connotation, i.e.
when a manager is praising an employee; while others may be better served with words carrying negative connotation, i.e. Connotation sets the tone, and using one word or another can seriously alter a sentence’s meaning or tone.
” The first use of “slender” has a positive connotation, implying that you look great, but the second word “skinny” has a negative connotation, implying that you look sickly.
Proper word choice is essential when it comes to speaking and writing.
First, let’s try a serious, formal, respectful, and matter-of-fact error message. Now we’ve taken the error message’s tone to casual and enthusiastic.
We’re not trying to make users laugh, or using any strong emotion in the message. If we add an attempt at humor and a little irreverence, we’ll have taken the same message to a totally different tone of voice.
Tone of voice is the way we tell our users how feel about our message, too.
Despite the importance of tone, advice about it tends to be vague: “Be consistent. Be unique.” So, we wondered, what are the broader qualities that make up a tone?