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8 Key Differences Between Business and Academic Writing

Comparing professional and academic writing is natural as you will likely encounter them at various points. Understanding the techniques will help you adjust to the different methods as required.


While they share similarities, like their effectiveness in conveying the message, they have several varying aspects. The range of academic writing is broader than business writing. For instance, you can come across an essay writing service or pay someone to write an essay, who specializes in persuasive, descriptive, or critical writing.

The main difference is, however, in the writing style, and here is what you need to know about how business and academic writing differ.


1. Passive and Active Voice

Academic papers are often written in passive voice and for target audiences that have time to go through the details of your piece. They are also lengthy. In academic writing, the passive voice exhibits authority, creates anonymity, and emphasizes said authority and action.

In business writing, an active voice is preferred as the audiences often go through the texts for the critical points. The sentences are shorter and concise and best expressed in active voice. The phrases are to the point.

Active voice in business writing is encouraged as it makes writing more straightforward for easy comprehension, allowing the recipient to take action as required.


In academic writing, the convention is to use the third-person narrative. But you should use the first-person narrative when writing most business texts like memos, letters, and emails.

2. Level of Formality

The target audience determines the degree of formality in business writing. While it requires professionalism, it shouldn’t be overly formal. The writer should also avoid cliches, figurative language, and filler words.

The message’s objective will also determine the formality of the language and the writer’s relationship with the recipient. For instance, a report would be more formal than an invitation to social events.


On the other hand, academic writing is always practical and formal. You should avoid a conversational tone and casual language. Instead of referring to people’s feelings, the writer should focus on the facts, objects, and opinions. 

You must present your ideas consistently in your papers. This creates room for comparison with other studies and research.

3. Prompt

Professors, teachers, and lecturers prompt learners to write academic papers. They design and structure the assignments where learners have to meet the requirements. Academic writing is all about learners meeting the provided requirements for successful writing. 

On the contrary, personal initiative and organizational demands drive business writing. Business writers can also handle writing tasks at their liberty. 


Writers must keep the prompts in mind to meet the task’s requirements. 

4. Audiences

Academic and business writing is done for different audiences. Academic writing is for academia, and the audience may include students, researchers, professors, and industry experts. 

Business writing targets colleagues, partners, managers, business people, and clients. 

5. Limitations

Business writing may have more constraints than academic writing. In professional writing, deadlines are crucial. You must write emails and reports on time to meet the company’s demands. 

The information must be accurate and unbiased. The writer is, however, allowed to share their honest opinion about matters. 

Academic writing provides more flexibility, and students are free to share their perspectives, provided they stick to the context and work within the topic’s premises. 

While the degree of urgency in the two types of writing varies, they are still crucial. Learning how to meet writing deadlines is essential in both situations. 

6. Structure

The structure of writing holds the most significant difference. An academic paper includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. 

The introduction should have a thesis statement, while the body of the paper highlights ideas connected to the thesis statement.

The conclusion of an academic paper sums it up and clears the way for future research and studies.

Business writing is different and does not include a thesis and body paragraphs. It consists of a company profile or description, an executive summary, strategic analysis, and recommendations. The structure of a business paper includes what the recipients want and need to know. 

Any information readers don’t necessarily need to be informed of is usually excluded from the paper or added to an appendix.

7. Design and Format

Academic papers must adhere to the format provided by the professors. For instance, they can specify that the piece is presented with page numbers and titles, a 12- font, and double spacing. Most formatting requirements are such that the paper has a dense and blocky style.

Business documents are designed to be visually appealing. It should be readable so the audience can skim through the text for the key points and read through it for details.

Business documents feature more white spaces than academic papers, and bullets and headings are used to highlight key points.

Academic texts don’t usually include logos, contacts, graphs, maps, and images.

8. Genre

Academic papers can be oral reports, exam answers, journals, term papers, and essays. Business writing can include letters, proposals, business plans, reports, contracts, manuals, handbooks, and marketing plans. 


You will likely come across the different types of writing at school or in the workplace. Understanding the requirements and differences of the different kinds of writing will help you structure your pieces in a way that fosters effective communication with the target audience. 

Consider the formality, structure, format, and target audience when tackling the different types of writing to make your work more effective.

Source: Glusea


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