What is the difference between essays and reports? How does a report differ from an essay? Basically, a report is a formal document that contains facts of a certain subject under study, and an essay is a piece of writing on a specific topic that expresses the author’s knowledge and opinions about the topic or a subject. One primary difference that exists between an essay and a report is that the essays are argumentative and idea-based, while the reports are informative and fact-based.
If you want to understand more points of differences between essays and reports, then continue reading this blog post and get a detailed description of the general features of an essay and a report. Also, from this post, learn how the purpose, formatting and content of a report differ from an essay.
What is an Essay?
An essay is a comprehensive literary composition that is written on any specific topic in a narrative or any other writing style such as argumentative or persuasive. It is often used to express the writer’s views or ideology, and it can be a learned argument, political manifestos, literary criticism, recollections, the observation of day-to-day life, and reflections of the writer.
Generally, the essay starts with a question and focuses on answering or providing suggestions to the problem on the basis of the existing theories or personal opinions and assessment.
To write an essay effectively, you can use learned materials along with your research and present your points in a logical and chronological manner. Particularly, when writing an essay, you should keep in mind to approach the essay in a positive thought even if your argument is negative.
What is a Report?
A report is a well-structured factual document that is created after conducting research, investigation or inquiry on a specific subject. Mainly, it serves as a basis for decision-making and problem-solving.
In general, the reports are prepared for any defined purpose and are usually used to identify, analyze and observe the practical issues, findings, and events in real life. It is a written presentation based on the analysis of the data obtained from research through various methods such as interviews, observations, surveys, experiments, etc.
When designing a report, you should make sure to inform your readers about a certain event, issue, or situation in a simple and objective manner and provide recommendations for future actions. The information gathered by performing research should be presented in a clear and concise manner under a set of headings and subheadings that are easy for the readers to understand quickly and easily.
Difference between Essays and Reports – Purpose
The main purpose of an essay is to find answers to a research question or a problem using the writer’s critical evaluation of the existing theories. It doesn’t include any practical research, and it uses only the existing literature material.
On the other hand, the ultimate aim of a report is to present an analysis of the practical research results in a well-structured manner by including various sections such as topic background, research aim and objectives. In the report, you can also include a hypothesis if you are asked to test a proposition with your research.
In simple terms, the purpose of the report is to make future recommendations and to identify and present facts while the aim of the essay is to discuss, explore, evaluate and present arguments to the readers.
Difference between Essays and Reports – Features
Listed below are the general features of essays and reports.
Features of Essays
- Depending on the essay question, essays are written in a narrative, argumentative or descriptive style.
- It uses a semi-structured format.
- It is not written to address a specific audience.
- Essays do not include figures, charts, tables, or graphs.
- It does not make use of headings or subheadings in normal circumstances.
Features of Reports
- Reports are informative and fact-based and may also include recommendations for the future.
- It is written in a formal writing style.
- It is written with a specific purpose and audience in mind.
- It contains bullet points and makes use of tables, graphs, figures, and illustrations.
- The reports include numbered/labeled headings and subheadings.
Difference between Essays and Reports – Content
The content of an essay more commonly depends on your essay question. Most importantly, based on the nature of the essay question, the essay type is determined as argumentative, evaluative, narrative, descriptive or discursive. Usually, the essay content involves a synthesis of knowledge that is obtained from existing sources or the writer’s own opinions or arguments.
The report deals with the aims and objectives of the practical research and also provides detailed information about research results and future recommendations. Mainly, for designing the reports, you should gather data and present the findings from your lab experiments or primary research activities. The reports are generally descriptive and present sequential events.
Difference between Essays and Reports – Structure and Formatting
The format and structure of essays and reports are more or less similar as both of them include essential sections such as the introduction, body, and conclusion. But additionally, the report also includes methodology and analysis sub-sections in the body part.
In general, the report has a fixed structure and its choice of sections vary depending on the purpose and the instructor’s guidelines.
Discussed below are the detailed structure and format of an essay and a report.
The Standard Structure of an Essay
- Main Body
- Bibliography or References List
The Structure of a Report
The reports mostly use an IMRaD (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) Structure. Here, we have mentioned the common sections that are included in the reports, and in that, some sections also include alternative headings.
- The Table of Contents
- Abstract or Executive Summary
- Literature Review
- Results or Findings
- Discussion/Analysis/ Interpretation
Key Difference between an Essay and a Report – Comparison Table
|An essay is a brief literary composition used to describe, analyze, argue, and present a specific idea or a topic.||The report is a formal document that is used to investigate a problem under study and present the findings from practical research concisely.|
|It is written on the basis of subjective analysis of theories, own ideas, and past research on a certain subject topic.||It is factual and objective but is mainly written based on past research, present data, and findings.|
|It focuses on general facts and events from the perspectives of the writers on a particular topic in a non-fictional manner.||The report contains information that the readers can use to identify the facts for solving an issue or making decisions.|
|The essay does not have any separate sections or headings, but it only has cohesive paragraphs.||The report has many sections with catchy headings and subheadings to grab the attention of the audience.|
|To present information, the essay does not use tables, charts, graphs, diagrams, and statistics.||For a clear and better presentation of information, the reports use visual elements such as tables, charts, graphs, diagrams, and statistics.|
|The essay conclusion focuses on the personal views or opinions of the writer on a specific topic in an optimistic manner and does not provide any future recommendations.||The report provides an independent conclusion and contains the opinions of the experts and recommendations for future actions.|
We hope you are now aware of the differences between an essay and a report. Mainly, essays are used in the context of academics while the reports are related to the field of research. In specific, the essays are written to understand the writer’s views about a topic and the reports are prepared to present the research information to the readers.
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