Essay vs. Report

What's the Difference?

Essays and reports are both forms of academic writing that serve different purposes. An essay is a piece of writing that presents an argument or a point of view on a specific topic. It is typically more subjective and allows the writer to express their thoughts and opinions. On the other hand, a report is a structured document that provides information on a particular subject. It is usually more objective and focuses on presenting facts and findings. While both essays and reports require research and analysis, essays tend to be more flexible in terms of structure and content, while reports follow a more rigid format with headings and subheadings.


PurposeExpressive, persuasive, or reflectiveInformative or analytical
StructureIntroduction, body paragraphs, conclusionIntroduction, sections, conclusion
LengthVaries, typically longerVaries, typically shorter
ResearchMay or may not require extensive researchUsually requires research and data analysis
CitationsMay or may not require citationsRequires proper citations and references
LanguageVaries, can be more creativeFormal and concise
SectionsMay or may not have distinct sectionsOften divided into clear sections
ConclusionSummarizes main points and provides closureSummarizes findings and recommendations

Further Detail


When it comes to academic writing, two common forms that students often encounter are essays and reports. While both serve the purpose of conveying information, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the attributes of essays and reports, highlighting their differences and similarities.


One of the primary distinctions between essays and reports lies in their structure. Essays typically follow a more flexible structure, allowing for a greater degree of creativity and personal expression. They often consist of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The body paragraphs present arguments or ideas supported by evidence and analysis.

On the other hand, reports tend to have a more rigid structure. They usually include sections such as an introduction, methodology, findings, and conclusion. Reports are often written in a more objective and formal tone, focusing on presenting factual information rather than personal opinions.

Furthermore, essays often require a thesis statement, which serves as the central argument or main idea of the paper. Reports, on the other hand, may not necessarily have a thesis statement but instead focus on presenting data or findings in a clear and organized manner.


While both essays and reports aim to convey information, they have different purposes. Essays are commonly used to explore and analyze a topic, allowing the writer to present their own ideas and arguments. They often require critical thinking and the ability to construct a coherent and persuasive argument.

Reports, on the other hand, are typically used to present factual information or findings from research or investigations. They are often more objective in nature and focus on providing a comprehensive overview of a particular subject. Reports may be used to inform decision-making, document experiments, or present research findings to a wider audience.

Language and Style

The language and style used in essays and reports also differ. Essays often allow for a more personal and subjective writing style, where the writer can express their thoughts and opinions. The language used in essays can be more creative and engaging, with the use of rhetorical devices and persuasive techniques to captivate the reader.

Reports, on the other hand, require a more formal and objective writing style. The language used in reports is typically straightforward and concise, focusing on presenting information in a clear and logical manner. Reports often avoid the use of personal pronouns and instead rely on passive voice constructions to maintain an objective tone.

Research and Referencing

Both essays and reports may require research and referencing, but the extent and approach can vary. Essays often involve extensive research to support the writer's arguments or claims. They may require the use of various sources, such as books, scholarly articles, or online resources. Referencing in essays is crucial to acknowledge the sources used and provide credibility to the arguments presented.

Reports, on the other hand, may also require research, but the focus is often on presenting factual information rather than analyzing or interpreting it. Reports may rely more heavily on primary research, such as surveys or experiments, to gather data. Referencing in reports is essential to provide transparency and allow readers to access the sources of the presented information.


In conclusion, while essays and reports share the goal of conveying information, they have distinct attributes that set them apart. Essays offer more flexibility in structure and allow for personal expression, while reports follow a more rigid structure and focus on presenting factual information. The purpose, language, and style used in essays and reports also differ, with essays often being more subjective and persuasive, while reports maintain a formal and objective tone. Understanding the differences between essays and reports is crucial for students to excel in their academic writing and effectively communicate their ideas and findings.

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