Differences between horizontal and vertical communication

Horizontal communication occurs between people holding the same hierarchical position. Both written and oral methods are used to make horizontal communication effective. The methods or media or horizontal communication are discussed below:

  • Oral Method: Horizontal communication is most effective when it is done through oral means. Telephonic conversation, face-to-face discussion, meetings, interviews, seminars, conferences, etc. are the widely used oral means of horizontal communication.
  • Written communication: Horizontal communication also takes place through written media; the written means of horizontal communication include letters, memos, reports, etc.

At last, it can be concluded that the efficacy of horizontal communication primarily depends on verbal means, yet written methods can be used to transmit important messages.

Differences between horizontal and vertical communication

Horizontal and vertical communications are the two different types of internal communication. These two types of communications differ in the following ways:Differences between horizontal and vertical communication

  • Meaning: When information flows between persons holding the same position in the in the organization, it is called horizontal communication. When communication occurs between superior and subordinates, it is called vertical communication.
  • Purpose: The purpose of horizontal communication is to coordinate the activities of various departments and divisions of the organization. The purpose of vertical communication is to provide necessary orders, instructions, and directives to the subordinates in a downward direction; and receiving suggestion, opinions and feedback from the subordinates in upward direction.
  • Information flow: In this communication, information flows between people holding same rank and status. In this communication, information flows form superior to subordinates and vice-versa.
  • Degree of formality: Horizontal communication enjoys greater degree of informality.Vertical communication is more formal than horizontal communication.
  • Method of communication: Horizontal communication is mostly done through oral media. Vertical communication is mostly done through written media.
  • Possibility of distortion: Message of horizontal communication are usually free form distortion. Message of vertical communication may suffer from distortion.
  • Length of communication line: Horizontal communication occurs in short line as it happens directly between sender and receiver. Vertical communication passes through a long line of communication.


  1. Very interesting. Can you please define a communication line in a company for a new employee? How would a new employee find his communication lines?


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