Difference Between Academic and Professional Writing

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 24, 2023


Difference Between Academic and Professional Writing

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It is very simple to find numerous different opinions on what is the best way to communicate. Communicate is that one word that comprises of everything from a thought in mind to getting the feedback. Different people have different perceptions and ideas of communicating in the right way. Conveying something can be done by speaking, writing, gestures, etc.

Nevertheless, it is the power of writing that makes this extremely understandable. The way we write portrays everything from the mood of the writer to their thought process. It is essential to get acquainted with this art of writing as early as possible.

Academic writing and Professional writing are both forms of writing but have distinct purposes and places. Whenever something is written down to exchange knowledge, or regarding a particular topic or something that can be used in studies, it takes the name of ‘Academic writing’. Whereas, when content is written down in an official setting with more formality and to meet the communication needs in a workplace, it comes under ‘Professional writing’.

Academic Writing Vs. Professional Writing

Both are essential branches of written communication; it is always helpful to learn the key differences between them.

Academic writing has an important aspect, that is knowledge. This form of writing focuses on putting down ideas, facts, and research work. This type of writing typically adapts a formal tone as mostly they are meant for publications. Concepts to evidence-based information are considered suitable for the same.

It is also referred to as ‘Scholarly writing.’

On the other hand, Professional Writing is used to meet the purpose or needs of an organization or a workplace. It covers more informative aspects and is used for making business documents, reports, emails, etc.

It also goes by the name of ‘Business communication.’

Difference Between Academic and Professional Writing in Tabular Form

Parameters of comparisonAcademic writingProfessional writing
DefinitionThis writing is taken up for academic purposes and is usually inclusive of facts, concepts, knowledge, research, etc.This style of writing is meant for workplaces or professional settings. It covers information, proposals, emails, etc.
StyleMore formal, well-organized, and detailed enough with a good word limit.Has varied tones but is mostly formal, keeping the purpose short and clear.
Target audienceMostly it is for a professor or mentor, someone who has been guiding you.Professional pieces can be read by anybody, suppose in an office or other entities.
Comprises ofConsists of more technical terminology, specific terms, and jargon perhaps.Consists of clear, simple terms for everyone to understand. It is technical enough.

What is Academic Writing?

Academic writing is a crucial form of written communication. It is usually adopted by students, scholars, or research enthusiasts.

This writing’s main purpose is to communicate in the academic field. It aims to share knowledge, information on a particular topic, certain evidence, or facts. This form of writing focuses on coming up with conclusions or making arguments based on suitable evidence or sources. The range of topics covered in this form of writing is wide.

Content, when it comes to writing in the academic field is not just written for the sake of it. This form involves critical thinking and analysis of the topic. It is meant to convey complicated topics, and especially when it goes through a rigorous check, the logic must fit in. One needs to think carefully about the topic, the structure, the terms used, etc.

Research work, data collection, and finding evidence and facts are vital. All these require an alert mind.


Academic writing is a wide category that has certain types. The main 4 types are:

  1. Descriptive writing – This is the most used type of academic writing. It is simple. The purpose that it focuses on is to communicate facts or some information. Usually used in forming reports or articles on a particular topic. This type is pretty direct and common.
  2. Analytical Writing – Academic writing also covers the aspect of analysis of the topic to form academic texts. It involves organizing and structuring the factual information in such a manner as to bring out a decent piece. Common words used in analytical writing are ‘compare’. ‘Analysis’, ‘Compare’ etc. One needs to indulge in proper planning and should have clarity of the topic to get better at analytical writing.
  3. Persuasive Writing – The presentation of straight-up information is not that appealing. This type involves the characteristics of analytical writing, organizes the facts but also presents one’s viewpoint.

Persuasive writing is meant to convince the target audience; to do that, opinions matter a lot. Can be in an argument form, recommendation, suggestion, interpretation, etc. 

In order to reach your point of view, it is important to list down different interpretations, do a critical analysis, evaluate the references, and then form an opinion.

  1. Critical Writing – This approach is required for higher levels. It is kind of an upgraded version of persuasive writing. While using this type, one should consider their viewpoint along with an additional viewpoint.

Focuses on taking up alternative opinions and keeping an open mind about them. It makes it important to have a clear understanding of your opinion as well as facts.


Academic texts or pieces must be well structured and organized and should be presentable. It needs a formal tone and if observed, usually these are written from the third person's perspective rather than the first person.

Main components that make an academic text well structured:

  1. Title page – it is to give the reader an idea about the topic in a very direct manner.
  2. Abstract – it is meant to provide a summary of the content inside. It is an overview basically.
  3. Content table – makes the reader aware bout what points will the context touch.
  4. Introduction – a very essential part of the text. Makes the reader learn about the topic and helps them gain interest. An overview in a more detailed manner.

The introduction clarifies the objective behind covering the topic as well as provides a little background information to the readers.

  1. Theoretical body – covers the concepts and facts to be discussed in a detailed manner. Converts complex information in a precise and clear manner. Make the subject understandable.
  2. Methodology – focuses on describing the one’s aim from the text, the method they have adopted to write along with an explanation, ensuring that your research and method justifies the topic.
  3. Results – meant to convey your findings and what one has learned from the whole procedure. Usually presented after a good amount of analyzing and making interpretations.
  4. Conclusions – another essential part is the concluding paragraph. Summing up holds great importance, helps to give a recap to the readers about the parts covered earlier, and brings out the main points.
  5. References – a list of references has to be made in an organized manner to state the helping material. Proper formatting and proofreading are mandatory.
  6. Appendices – in case appendices are there such as a survey, questionnaire, or any sort of data collected, it all has to be addressed in the end.

These are the most commonly included components; however, it totally depends on the type of academic text one is writing and certain specifications.

What is Professional Writing?

It is imperative to have a formal yet suitable way of communicating in a workplace, in businesses, or certain other professional settings. Here, professional writing fits in well. Usually, this form of writing is adopted by business professionals.

This sort of writing is not something that comes from a creative eye, rather it is meant to convey information in a clear yet formal enough manner. It does not always have to be bombarded with details, rather the information is kept short. Even though, it is also sometimes used to convey or explain a topic but not from the perspective of getting it checked like in academic writing.

The audience is considered before circulating any professional text, many times, clients, colleagues, and employers are the target audience.

Professional texts usually pass by our eyes frequently in the form of cover letters, resumes, emails, etc.


  1. Emails – This is one type we come across frequently. Emails come under primary ways of communicating, especially in organizations and outside.  It is meant to convey some information concisely.
  2. Cover letters – These come in handy when it comes to applying for certain positions in organizations. It acts as an introduction to one’s resume.
  3. Memorandum – Memos are important for effectively conveying messages to others. Plus, these are used within the organization itself. They are brief and direct in nature.
  4. Reports – These are some of the most commonly heard professional texts. It is a document used for various purposes within the organization, from giving updates on a project to proposing something new, all are mostly carried out through reports. Reports have a proper structure from the introduction to the conclusion.
  5. Letters – Communicating through letters in organizations can be pretty useful. These letters are typically referred to as ‘Business letters.’ These are circulated from one entity to the other. Can be used for various purposes and the length depends on the purpose.

Business letters have a specific format and structure, including date, time, sender’s and receiver’s details, and thanking the receiver.

Guideline Followed

  1. A professional text is supposed to be in a serious manner. Any sort of mood lighter, jokes, unprofessional words, or emojis are not appreciated by the audience.
  2. Proper formatting and proofreading are required before conveying the information to make it as error-free as possible.
  3. It is vital to mention all the references and sources used towards the end. Make sure that the content is free of grammatical errors.
  4. The content should have a definite purpose to make it efficient to communicate.
  5. Try to avoid negative phrases, especially in professional emails.

Main Difference Between Academic Writing and Professional Writing in Points

  • Academic writing is usually taken up by scholars, students, professors, research analysts, etc. Professional writing is mostly taken up by business professionals in the workplace.
  • Academic writing is usually found in the form of research papers, a thesis, and lessons. Whereas, professional writing can be identified in the form of reports, memos, cover letters, business letters, emails, etc.
  • Most academic texts are detailed along with some technical terminology in order to explain something. Professional texts are comparatively briefer and more precise, and use simple terms to make them understandable.
  •  The target audience for academic content is professors, mentors, and students sometimes. However, professional content is meant for co-workers, employees, clients, etc.
  • The role of the writer’s opinion is extremely important when it comes to academic writing. One makes sure to write the content based on their analysis. On the other hand, most professional writing is for communicating messages in a formal tone. The role of opinion is much less.
  • Academic texts are not that effective in real life, they are meant to be checked and published. Professional texts are effective and come in handy while working in a professional setting.
  • For academics, one must always keep the tone formal. In the case of professional writing, the content can have various tones.


Now, to sum up, written communication can be helpful to each and every being. It is important to learn this skill but on the other hand, it is also important to identify different types of writing.

Academic writing holds great value in the academic field, used to explain concepts and topics based on facts and evidence. Has a proper structure and tone which has to be used correctly. Communicating through writing is very useful in organizations, and that is why professional writing is significant there. Which is effective, short, and formal. Both need to be used in the correct way and within the right setting.

Both are designated to communicate with their target audiences and turn out to be helpful to them. If observed, we may realize that we are every day surrounded by pieces of academic and professional writing.


  • https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/academic-writing
  • https://besteditproof.com/en/academy/4-common-types-of-academic-writing
  • https://www.sydney.edu.au/students/writing/types-of-academic-writing.html#:~:text=The%20four%20main%20types%20of,use%20more%20than%20one%20type
  • https://writingguide.se/writing/the-structure-of-the-academic-text/
  • https://sites.psu.edu/cathigerhard/professional-writing/professional-writing/
  • https://www.outranking.io/types-of-professional-writing/
  • https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/professional_technical_writing/business_writing_for_administrative_and_clerical_staff/general_guidelines.html


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"Difference Between Academic and Professional Writing." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 10 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-academic-and-professional-writing>.

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