How to Apply the 4 Modes of Writing in Copywriting

modes of writing

In school, we were taught about using the appropriate tone in writing to achieve a given goal. You probably weren’t giving it much attention at the time, but it has proven to be quite useful now that we are living in a technologically advanced world where everyone turns to the Internet for everything.

Writing is a craft that has grown into an exponentially large industry since the world wide web and Google wriggled their way into our lives.

Copywriting, in particular, has crept up on us to the point that we see cleverly written copies and not notice the effects they have on the decisions we make. Heck, the power of copywriting can even make you choose to buy an expensive shoelace that you can live without.

To become effective in this business, copywriters capitalize on their writing arsenal to ensure that the message they wish to convey is sent and emotions that need to be triggered along the way are achieved.

There’s no better weapon to achieve this than the 4 modes of writing.

The 4 Modes of Writing: A Review

The modes of writing remain at the core of copywriting because a writer effectiveness is measured by how well she achieved her purpose. Before putting together random words and phrases, you should first know your purpose. This will help you decide what mode you should use in your copy.

Expository Writing

Coined from the root word “expose,” the goal for this mode of writing is to inform the target audience about something. It basically explains a subject matter based on facts, without the writer’s prejudice and opinion.

Writers use expository in textbooks and other instructional materials used for education as well as some reports about current events and developments in society.

Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing is a way to transform what is discerned by the five senses into words to help establish a scenario in the readers’ minds.

This mode of writing can be slightly similar to expository writing as they are both based on facts. However, descriptive writing can be opinionated because the information set forth therein is determined by the writer based on her own perception.

This mode of writing is often used in journals and diaries as well as media reports and feature articles. It can also be used in advertisements to describe the smell, sound, feel, appearance, or taste of the product being endorsed.

Compared to expository writing, descriptive writing lends the author more artistic freedom in sketching a scenario in the readers’ head.

Persuasive Writing

This mode of writing, which is often used in argumentation and debate, has two main goals: to reveal the writer’s opinion on an issue and to attempt to persuade other people to agree.

Persuasive writing is most common in editorial and opinion pieces in print. However, what many people don’t realize is that persuasive statements can be found in advertisements and product copies, especially online.

Although this type of writing is opinionated, it may still show characteristics of other modes of writing. This is because to convince others to agree on something, a writer may need to use descriptions and expository statements as proof to support her claims.

Narrative Writing

The narrative mode of writing is as its name implies– it tells a story. Although that may sound quite similar to expository or descriptive writing, this one is different because it can either be fact or fiction.

Many narrative write-ups are fruits of the writer’s imagination, particularly novels, short stories. and novellas. There are also narrations that are based on facts, like anecdotes and biographies.

Although this summary of characteristics and examples may imply that there is a clear boundary between the four modes of writing, it is important to note that most of the better written outputs make use a combination of two or more modes of writing. After all, you can’t persuade customers to buy a product without describing it with your own senses.

Copywriting: The Basics

Based on the modern definition of the term, copywriting is both an art and a science developed to “expose” products and “persuade” customers to buy them. From that statement alone, you should be able see two modes of writing already.

To write an effective copy, a copywriter must follow these 4 simple steps:

Step #1: Understand the Product

For copywriters, everything starts with the product. Vague as it may seem, this statement effectively summarizes what every copywriter must do at the very beginning of her journey towards writing effective copies.

With that said, this step may require smaller, sub-steps to accomplish. One important inclusion is the creation of a product description. This document can be modified based on the type of product and other factors and should include a brief description of the product, its special features, the benefits it can provide the customers, and what problems it can solve.

Step #2: Know Your Target Audience

After understanding the product, it is time to know the people you are going to sell it to. Since you are about to introduce something to your audience, it pays to know details about them, including their gender, age, ethnicity, family status, income, occupation, and interests.

Doing this will let you modify the copy you’re about to write in a way that will pique their curiosity, retain their interest, and, ultimately, sell the product.

Step #3: Highlight the Product’s Benefits

This is a critical part in writing a copy as it could make or break a sale. People want to get value for their money, so it is important to bring their attention to the benefits they can gain from buying the product.

Step #4: Add a Call to Action

Copies can only be considered effective if they can convert readers into paying customers, and this is not possible without a call to action element in it. Call-to-actions (CTAs) can be anything— from a question to a clickable button that directs them to the seller’s website — that can elicit any form response from the readers.

Exposition, Description, Persuasion, and Narration, in Copywriting: An Overview

Now that you know how to start writing a copy and have recalled the different modes of writing that you need to do it, it is time to understand how it applies in the real world.

Storytelling is a useful tool for copywriters as it not only introduces a product to the readers but also effectively maintains their attention long enough until they reach the call-to-action element found at the end of the copy.

Every story is comprised of four basic elements: a beginning, a conflict, a climax, and an ending. Product copies are quite similar.

While stories have a simple beginning that serves as the background of the story, copywriters can come up with an introduction of the product. Next, is the exposition of the problem that is equivalent to the conflict of the story.

After that, copies move on to the description of how the product can solve the problem which also serves as the story’s climax. Finally, the ending or conclusion can summarize the benefits the product can provide and include the oh-so-important call-to-action.

Application: 10 Types of Copywriting

Here are 10 types of copies produced by copywriters where the modes of writing can be applied in:


E-mails, short for electronic mail, is a great way to promote products and services online. It may include special offers like limited-time discounts and product coupons to convince customers to buy that item or service.

When doing this type of copywriting, you can use the descriptive mode of writing by using colorful and straightforward descriptors to help the readers get a clear picture of what being offered.

You can also use persuasion by emphasizing the “limited time” the offer is being made by adding simple but expressive words like “Hurry!” or using time-sensitive descriptors like “Today Only” or “Ends at Midnight” can help achieve the goal.

Online Advertisements

Online advertisements are used to promote a brand via the Internet with the help of sound effects, video clips, or cleverly-written infographics.

Like emails, this can also feature limited-time offers and use persuasive and descriptive words supported by other forms of media.

Press Releases and Media Kits

A press release is an article that showcases important events, milestones, and programs that involves a certain brand or company. It is also a way to introduce and promote a new company to a certain industry.

Press releases and media kits make use of almost every mode of writing: it describes an event or brand being introduced, exposes a new item and its benefits, and persuades readers to act on it. For new brands, copywriters can also use narration to show how it all began, giving an insight that brings the company closer to the readers.

Product Brochures

Product brochures, leaflets, and other marketing materials—both in print and online—serve as a quick guide to what a company is offering its target market. It may contain a brief description of the product, a how-to guide in using it, and its benefits for the user.

Event Materials

Some events also use brochures and other materials for promotion which can be a product of the creative mind of a copywriter. This may include a persuasive slogan or a tagline that describes the event’s main goals. 

Marketing Pieces

Marketing pieces are articles crafted to promote a product, service, or brand published within the company’s own website or on another page as a guest post.

Marketing pieces often use persuasive language to convince readers how they are better than their competitors. It can also utilize narratives injected with humor to keep their attention from drifting and prevent them from clicking out of the page.

Resume and Cover Letter

Resumes and cover letters are also marketing pieces, in a sense, since they showcase what an applicant has to offer to impress her potential clients or bosses.

Copywriters use tons of descriptive words and phrases in writing these papers and even expose some of the individual strengths of the person being “sold” to the employers. Persuasive statements— like “I strongly believe that I am the best choice for the job because…”— only appears mostly on the cover letter rather than the resume

Non-Profit Materials

Non-profit materials include marketing pieces, web content, and newsletters. These copies may feature important information that should be disseminated for public use, such as how-to guides and life hacks.

Aside from describing what needs to be done during instances when the information needs to be used, copywriters also incorporate the powers of persuasion in these non-profit materials to convince the readers to take action on the information they just received.

Company Missions, Goals, and Core Values

A company’s mission, goals, and core values are filled with strong descriptive words that reflect the firm’s principles and work ethic. Sometimes, copywriters may include narrations of how the company came to be in relation to the birth of their goals and mission.

White Papers

White papers are documents that report about a complex matter. However, this form of copy is widely used in introducing new ideas, products, and services, such as cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and ICOs, to the public.

The ultimate goal of a white paper is to expose every detail involved in the subject matter, but it is also used to persuade potential customers to jump into the bandwagon of a relatively new idea by showing them the assigned workarounds for potential setbacks the company may face.

What’s Next?

The four modes of writing remain a relevant part of our daily lives, whether we notice it or not. Copywriters— hard-working men and women who take up many roles that they are second only to mothers in terms of skill and proficiency— know this for a fact.

Although it may not be apparent in your daily routine, exposition, description, persuasion, and narration will always be part of your life and will remain a significant means for the online writing industry to prosper. How will you use the knowledge you gained today to enrich your life?

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