Using formal language doesn't mean that you have to sound stilted and boring. You can still sound lively and engaging by using words imaginatively but choosing carefully to avoid slang and incorrect grammar. News reports use formal language, but the words are rich and stimulating to keep the audience interested. BBC Bitesize

... Editorial policies dictate the use of adjectives, euphemisms, and idioms. Newspapers with an international audience, for example, tend to use a more formal style of writing. Wikipedia

Formal English is used in “serious” texts and situations — for example, in official documents, books, news reports, articles, business letters or official speeches ... antimoon

Despite the above, I noticed news websites are using some Informal English words and style within their article content.


... But now she's decided to go a step ... BBC

... They laid into the Senate committee with a vigor that Brennan ... The Guardian

The 7.8-magnitude quake, which struck Saturday night ... CNN

So, my question: Have the informal words (and style) that are being used by newspapers become more formal in modern language? Or have the newspapers started using informal language in their content?

  • The dictionaries I checked seem to differ over whether quake is informal - Merriam-Webster and Collins COBUILD say not, Cambridge and Collins English Dictionary say yes. (On the other hand that BBC bitesize article is bullshit; news reports are seldom "rich and stimulating".)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 12 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


The latter.

Because while newspapers may be dictated by editorial policies, editorial policies are still dictated by (surprise, surprise) sales, specifically, how much advertising they can sell and their circulation.

If you've noticed, newspaper articles have also been getting shorter and shorter.

  • You may read the links I've included for some of the supposed reasons for these changes, but honestly, I blame technology, the Internet (think Twitter (140-character-limit), Bitly, and emojis and emoticons) and of course, human greed :D (bigger, faster, easier, more, now). For example, even my comment box had been limited to 600 characters, which is why I had decided to remake it as an answer :D. Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 10:42
  • Also, as the Internet evolves and more and more user-created content is added to society as a whole, the "traditional" and "formal" aspects of language, and society as a whole, may and will, change again! Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 16:07

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