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Context

Style is contextual, meaning that it is determined by the media of writing and publication, the author’s aims, and the intended audience. Using casual or simple language in a formal document would be inappropriate, for instance, because it might give the audience the impression that the author doesn’t fully understand the importance of the work, that they don’t take the audience seriously, or that they simply don’t have a very extensive vocabulary (which could affect their ethos, or credibility). Conversely, a social media post from a prominent political figure might demand a certain level of seriousness or decorum. When taking context into account, a writer needs to consider not only what they would like to say and how, but also what their audience needs and wants to get from the text. 

Mood, Tone, and Pathos 

Style allows writers to create mood and evoke feeling in readers. Mood refers to a writing’s atmosphere, and can be influenced by the writer’s attitude, or their tone. For example, Edgar Allen Poe’s stories and poetry often have a somber or eerie mood, whereas Jane Austen’s novels display her sense of wit 

Mood and tone work together to help create pathosor emotions. As part of the rhetorical triangle, along with logos (logic) and ethos, pathos allows for genuine human connection and helps inform the audience’s attitudes and decisions. In fact, some treatises on Classical rhetoric, like Longinus’ On The Sublime, argue that pathos is the most important aspect of the rhetorical triangle for this reason. But no matter how one ranks the elements of the rhetorical triangle, the ability to evoke emotion in an audience is a hallmark of strong stylistic writing.