The Publishing Culture

“They Just Don’t Like My Style”: Style vs Voice


One of the most famous defenses of writing assignments everywhere: “My teacher just doesn’t like my style.” I know that line, I have said it when picking up that essay which should have been immediately listed on the literary cannon and yet is stamped with a deflated C+.

The fact is, a teacher can “not like your style” and that does not mean they just “don’t get you.” The problem is the distinction between style and voice.

Style is a combination of a writer’s use of diction and tone according to Wheaton University’s writing center resources. Style is something that the writer manipulates to accomplish their specific purpose in writing.

Voice, on the other hand is the “you” in your writing. “Voice is your own. It’s a developed way of writing that sets you apart from other writers (hopefully). It’s your personality coming through on the page,” according to Writer’s Digest.

Writer’s Digest goes further by giving this example, “Here’s one way to think about it: WD tries to have all its articles fit a similar style—conversational yet straightforward. But between the covers, each piece is written by a different author whose own voice colors his particular piece. So the continuity of the magazine stays together, but each piece is still different.” When writing for a specific purpose it is important to analyze what style best meets the needs of your intended audience. If you write for a travel magazine, perhaps a style that includes longer and more detailed sentences is appropriate. If you are writing a manual for putting together furniture, any unnecessary content should probably be omitted for shorter, more direct sentences.

So if a teacher, publisher, or editor does not “like your style,” think about revising your work. Or, if you think they simply do not “get you” then shout, “they just don’t like my voice!” instead.