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Differences Between Reports and Essays

If you were asked which assignment you would rather complete between an essay and a report, which would you choose? This is often a way many people remember the differences between each one. Essays are shorter than reports, but this is just a brief explanation in why they are different. Essays may allow the writer to provide opinions about the subject matter, while a report is something more detailed and longer in length that provides facts.

Elements of a Report

Many students dread writing a report since they often require more work. They may have subheadings and sections while varying in length. Reports follow a structure that is more formal than most writing assignments. It may have separate sections or categories you are expected to provide solid and concise information for such as a summary, recommendations and discussion. These parts may vary depending on academic level and various career fields can have reports that feature graphs, diagrams and other visual concepts to help provide factual details. A report may have a certain focal point or main purpose behind it being written. References may need to be cited if other works were used to help develop its contents.

Elements of an Essay

An essay has a basic structure that includes three main parts: an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. There are different types of essays with many being roughly a page long, but some can be shorter depending on the purpose. They may include a thesis statement which acts as the main idea, overall purpose or scope for the essay. It is a formal way of writing that may be shorter than other writing assignments. You are still expected to provide a clear focus for the written content and have strong evidence to support the main idea.

Further Ways to Understand Differences

Read sample essays and sample reports to get more insight on their differences. There are different types of each that may help you understand how they can be written. You can review free samples online or through book publications designed to help you write each one. Academic students are often required to write each to encourage and promote writing through critical thinking and creative writing. Essays can help argue, compare or contrast a subject, while reports can have various parts that follow a solid expanded structure when it comes to presenting findings associated with research.


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