The terms "tone" and "mood" are often used interchangeably but if you're one of the many of people doing that, you're incorrect. Tone and mood mean different things in the writing world and everyone who writes anything should know the difference.
What Is Tone?
Tone is an author's attitude towards their subject matter. The tone might be reflective of the author's own opinion or it might be from channeling of a character in the piece. Tone is conveyed mainly through word choice, sentence structure and punctuation.
Examples of Tone in Writing
The tone of the book "The Catcher in the Rye" is often sarcastic and judgmental. You can tell that the author is conveying a certain attitude or feeling in the way that the book is written.
What Is Mood?
The mood differs from the tone in that it refers to the overall atmosphere created by the piece. This is the overall, general feel that is conveyed in the writing. Mood is conveyed through figurative language and literary devices that allow the reader to feel for themselves the mood the writing evokes.
Examples of Mood in Writing
Keeping with the example above, The mood of The Catcher in the Rye is dark, bleak, gloomy, and depressing.
The world, environment, diction, interactions and circumstance surrounding the novel. The mood convey to the reader a certain emotion that when done right, achieves an emotional response in the reader that can help build your work for a better payoff.