Comparison of Business and Academic Writing

Making a comparison of business and academic writing is important so you can understand the different writing methods. There are more types of academic writing than business writing and the main differences between the two relate to the style of the writing.

Academic Writing

Style, Focus and Formality

The style of academic writing is formal and uses the third person perspective. The focus of the writing is on facts and issues rather than the writer’s opinion. The language uses precise words and does not include slang words, jargon, or abbreviations.

  • An example of formal writing:

The man made bad choices which caused him to lose money and fame.

  • An example of informal writing would be:

I think the man’s a loser. The second one is not precise, uses the first person, has a slang word, and uses a contraction.

To write in the academic style, you need to put a lot of thought into your writing before you start. An outline can be a helpful tool for good planning. You also need to have a consistent style. If you are writing for a school, check to see it they recommend a certain style of writing such as APAMLA or Chicago.


Academic writing is intended for an informed audience and is serious in nature.  Here are some of the formats that incorporate academic writing with explanations of some.

  • Abstract – This is a short summary of an article, thesis, review, or other long report on a subject or event.
  • Books and book reports
  • Conference paper – This paper is presented at a conference.
  • Dissertation or thesis – This is written as a requirement for an advanced degree.
  • Essay – An essay is a short piece written from the author’s personal point of view.
  • Explication – This is usually a short work explaining a part of a particular work
  • Research article or research paper – The paper is much longer than the article.

Business Writing

Style, Focus and Formality

The main requirement and focus of business writing is clarity. Clear and precise language must be used so the communication is easy to read.

The style needs to be professional and courteous but not overly formal.

Ideas need to be well developed with examples and details as needed. There should not be too many extra words, like adjectives and adverbs, and clichés are not necessary.

There is much more involved in academic writing than in business writing.


Here are the formats that need the proper business writing style:

  • Letters
  • Memos
  • Business email
  • Press releases
  • Executive summaries
  • Resume writing

Here are some of the things you need to remember about business writing:

  • Use an active voice, not passive. An active voice uses action verbs. Here is an example:

Passive=“What the company is missing…”

Active=“The company lacks…”

  • Use shorter and simpler sentences. Sentences with less than 25 words would be ideal.
  • Avoid qualifiers like: would be, may be, and probably. These words weaken the tone of what you are saying.
  • The writing should suggest action instead of focusing on mental states.  Instead of saying, “We believe”, or “We think” say, “We recommend” This goes along with the active tone of the communication.

Business vs. Academic Writing

As you can see, there are a lot of differences between these two styles of writing.

Academic writing is formal, using the third person, while business writing is less formal and can use any point of view.

Academic writing focuses on facts, while business writing gives opinions.

Long sentences are alright in academic writing, but are cumbersome in business writing.

In the comparison of business and academic writing, there are a few points in common. Both styles need well-developed ideas that are communicated precisely and clearly. The tone is serious in both, whether reporting on research or making recommendations for change. Lastly, proper grammar and punctuation is very important in both forms of communication.

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