Business Writing vs Academic Writing: Four Primary Differences

Some might say that the only difference between academic and business writing is the fact that the former is practiced by scholars while the latter by professionals. However, when perused closely, one can discern some stark as well as nuanced demarcation between the two. For individuals, such as college graduates, who need to occasionally shift between academic writing and business writing, knowing these differences can help them format their respective documents appropriately.


Business Writing vs Academic Writing: Four Primary Differences

To the layman, the business writing vs academic writing dilemma might seem not worth much thought. Rather, citing the similarities they share in terms of tone and diction, these two writing styles would appear similar to an extent. One might even say that the only difference between academic and business writing is the fact that the former is practiced by scholars while the latter by professionals.

However, when perused closely, one can discern some stark as well as nuanced demarcation between the two. For individuals, such as college graduates, who need to occasionally shift between academic writing and business writing, knowing these differences can help them format their respective documents appropriately.

Business writing vs academic writing: Key differences

Below are enlisted some primary differences between the academic and business writing styles. These differences are primarily based on factors such as the purpose of writing, degree of formality, the intricacy of the language, and the audience.

1. Objective

  • One of the more apparent distinctions between business writing and academic writing concerns the very motive behind their implementation.

  • Writers employ the academic writing style when they require to showcase their scholarly capabilities. This writing style finds use in research papers, essays, dissertations, and other scholarly texts mandated by educational institutions.

  • Writers regularly exercising the academic writing style also enrich their research and learning prowess.

  • The purpose of academic writing is, thus, to create knowledge-rich texts while exploring the subject matter.

  • Business writing finds use in drafting professional documents such as business letters, emails, financial reports, and the ilk. Thus, it is also called professional writing.

  • Business documents prioritize explicitness over the usage of fancy words as they, at times, have an array of subsequent readers. Hence, business writing is relatively work-oriented and commands the readers to definitely and sometimes immediately address a document's contents.

  • To summarize, business writing emphasizes practicality over theoretical appraisal.

2. Language

  • Language is another writing aspect that sets academic writing apart from its professional counterpart.

  • Both writing styles demand the usage of language that is formal, sophisticated, and exudes respect and seriousness. However, in the case of academic writing, the degree of formality is marginally, and in some cases significantly, higher. And understandably so, since academics, while writing their manuscripts, need to use a relatively higher amount of jargon.

  • The academic writing process is comparatively more demanding as writers need to refer to a plethora of credible literature to furnish their texts. Business writing, instead, regurgitates a lot of the formal expressions while accommodating factual information in the text. As such, it is the more approachable of the two.

  • Also, unlike academic writing, business writing does not dogmatically prohibit the use of first and second pronouns.

  • Complicated sentence structures are another linguistic factor that differentiates academic and professional writing. Although there are no strict statutes regarding the usage of long sentences in professional writing, readers look down upon them. This is because business writing is comparatively more straightforward and less persuasive.

  • Hence, to the keen eye, language can be an overt identifier of writing style. But at the same time, the uninformed individuals might not observe the same linguistic differences as apparently.

3. Formatting and document structure

  • The third factor that segregates academic and professional writing is the document's structure and the formatting requirements.

  • Academic writing and business writing both abide by different layouts and formatting styles. Academic writers typically arrange their documents as per the IMRaD structure. However, this structure is subject to changes if the teacher or the supervisor states it.

  • Also, academic writers need to observe the APA, MLA, or Chicago formatting styles for their manuscripts. Failing to do so can welcome some severe repercussions regardless of how well-written the document is.

  • Business writers, too, employ specific layouts for different professional documents. But these layouts are outrightly different from their academic counterparts.

  • For instance, while writing business letters, professional writers use the block style for formatting their letters. Semi-block and modified block are the other two formatting styles for business letters.

4. Readership

  • The intent of any writing, whether it is academic or professional, is to address the readers. Thus, for a significant part, writers need to mold their documents according to the reading requirements of their audience. It is these requirements that further isolate academic writing from professional writing.

  • Since academic writing is the more complex of the two, writers presume their readers to be well-read and aware of the context of their document. This also implies that academic readers are under less temporal constraints since scholarly texts require ample time to study.

  • Business documents, conversely, are aimed at readers across all literacy levels. In other words, the writers have a vague idea about their readership.

  • Also, since a professional environment is competitive and fast-paced, readers are under stricter time constraints.

Business writing vs academic writing: Synopsis

The rationale behind the business writing vs academic writing narrative primarily pillars itself on the above-mentioned differences. Although these distinctions are not exhaustive, they offer readers a premise on which they can base some more differences.

Academic writing and business writing both intend to inform the readers about their contents comprehensively. However, it is the approach they take and the requisites they fulfill that sets them apart.

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Business writing vs academic writing

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Business writing vs academic writing

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