How to Use an Impersonal Style of Writing

Wait a minute. Aren’t we supposed to strive for a more personal tone in our writing? Well, yes. But there are lots of writing opportunities where an objective and totally impersonal tone just works better. For instance, it will be tough to take a lab report seriously if the writer is constantly tying the findings with his feelings. It neither helps understanding nor clarity, so it serves no useful purpose in the body of work. Same goes for many forms of technical writing, be it in the engineering, medical or technology fields.

There are three distinct things you should do to promote objectivity in your writing. These are:

1. Use third-person pronouns. As a corollary to this, always avoid the first person. Never write “We found…” or “I tried.” Instead, say “It was found…” or “The group tried…” Linking actions in the actual document to yourself strips objectively in a large way.

2. Use passive sentences, instead of active. I know, every writing guide you’ve read told you active sentences were more vibrant and communicative. That’s not what you’re going for, though. Rather, you’re aiming for objectivity and formality – things passive sentences are able to deliver in spades.

3. Use the report itself and parts of it as actors in your writing. This is actually simpler than it sounds. Basically, you should use terms like, “The report shows…,” “The experiment’s findings indicate…” and “These results demonstrate…”

Lastly, if you want to ensure an adherence to technical writing standards, you should look towards using a technical writing correction software. These specialized writing tools not only work to fix grammar and sentence structures, they take the next step by ensuring it reads well for a technical audience.