The difference between academic writing and business writing

The difference between academic writing and business writing

  • Academic writing is formal, the passive voice and the third person are often used. Business writing is less formal, more direct and concise, and uses an active voice.

  • Long sentences are fine in academic writing, but very cumbersome in business writing.

  • Students must display a large vocabulary to use complex words and long sentences. Business writers must get their ideas across quickly, so they use simple words and short sentences.

Let’s look at these differences in more detail:

Students write to demonstrate their learning!

Schools, colleges, and universities exist to share knowledge and help students do the same. The writing that students produce in academic settings can best be described as “writing to demonstrate what they have learned.”

Students write to discuss and explore different topics, to make a case, to demonstrate what they have learned to teachers and professors. They need to show that they can think and apply what they have learned. Students must persuade readers of a particular theory or develop information gleaned from research.

The writing that students give to instructors or teachers indicates how their mind works, how much they know, and what they think and feel about particular topics.

In academic writing, students write to demonstrate their learning – to impress!

Business writers write to get things done!

In the business world, we write to share information, solve problems, propose new strategies, negotiate contracts, inform stakeholders of progress, etc.

When we write in business, to managers, employees, clients, suppliers, interested parties, etc., we must provide clear information and explain what we want or what we want others to do. Business writers often recommend specific courses of action to their readers. Therefore, writing in business contexts can best be described as “writing to do.”

In business, we need to get things done quickly, so we need to express ourselves clearly! Clarity is key and this should be the primary focus in all business writing.

In business writing, we write to get things done, to express!

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