Reports And Essays: Key Differences

Reports And Essays: Key Differences

Reports And Essays: Key Differences

Sometimes at the university, there is such a large amount of work. And it is not difficult for students to get confused about the requirements and style guidelines for specific academic assignments. Professors of the natural, humanities and social sciences often ask their students to write a report or essay as an intermediate control of knowledge. In fact, one and the other means the student’s independent work with literature and other sources, analysis, selection of certain theses, and summing up. But there is also a difference in these types of academic paperwork. We will consider all of them in our article.

What Is an Essay?

An essay is a kind of written piece distinguished by a small volume (usually up to 5 pages) and the absence of strict rules for the design and structure of the content and presentation. For example, if the supervisor provides clear style and structure guidelines for writing a term paper or a thesis, you may not find similar ones for an essay. They are commonly limited to the volume of work (3-5 pages) and strict requirements for the text uniqueness.

Several reasons cause high requirements for the uniqueness of the essay. When giving such an assignment, a professor wants to know the thoughts of a particular student, to understand how well they can express them, what point of view they have, whether they can argue it, how capable they are of a coherent story, etc. Since this is not a scientific text, devoid of formulas, commonplaces, theoretical materials, etc., it is assumed that two people cannot express two absolutely identical points of view in different creative paperwork. Therefore, it is better not to download ready-made works from the Internet. A competent supervisor will quickly realize that they are not written by you and will give a low mark. You should do this task yourself or ask for help with report writing.

What Is a Report?

The report is a test material for specializations and academic subjects. The report can be written or oral, depending on the professor’s requirements. It is an independent academic task prepared on a given topic and a specific plan.

The text of the written material has more of a reporting function than a research one. Therefore, the report’s primary purpose is to convey information to the audience. When planning a future text, a student can use just a few reasoned sources or lectures in the discipline. The report allows not only to learn something new but also to consolidate the material covered.

The report may either consist of several structural elements (title page, introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, list of references) or not include them. For a small-sized report, it is allowed not to single out its elements in a section, but their meaning must still be present in the text.

Critical Differences Between Essays and Reports

The first difference is the direction of work. The essay’s main objective is to establish how students can correctly, interestingly, and logically express their thoughts on the chosen topic. How relevant are their opinions? Were they able to fit their text into the given size boxes? How the information is presented is accessible and competent or in haste. It is what the professor checks when considering an essay.

When checking the report, things are different – when working on this written piece, you need to demonstrate your abilities specifically for research work. The report does not imply extensive personal research and superb discoveries, but in this case, it will still be required to show one’s ability to analyze and draw one’s own conclusions.

The following distinction is structure. Essays do not have a strict outline since they aim to assess the original idea or non-standard view. Reports, in contrast, have a clear structure:

  1. An introduction that outlines the essence of the problem in general terms. Here is a question that needs to be answered based on what has been written.
  2. The body paragraphs are the main ones. They should broadly and intelligibly set out the idea of the whole assignment.
  3. A concluding part. It contains a logical conclusion from the central part and answers the question at the beginning.

There are also differences in the style. A neutral vocabulary usually characterizes the report composition, and only a small number of speech patterns (epithets, comparisons, metaphors) are welcome. The author’s set of turns is much more extensive in the essay. It includes rhetorical questions and appeals, tropes, phraseological units, neologisms, archaisms, and professional slang.

And, of course, both types of academic paperwork have a different volume. But here, it is worth considering that the professor’s requirements for texts may differ; therefore, a strict binding to a specific number of words does not always need to be adhered to. So, to reveal the topic of the essay, it is enough to write an average of 250-400 words. But the volume of the report can be up to 1500-2000 words. The specificity of the topic and its perception by the writer affect how extensive the work will be. However, you should not write a report larger than ten pages. In this case, the academic paper will look more like an abstract, which means that you completed the task incorrectly. It will affect your final score directly.


You have found critical differences between reports and essays. However, do not forget that supervisors often provide their own requirements for the structure, content, and style of written work. If you are not sure that you have understood the professor correctly, ask for guidelines or a sample of work so that you can definitely avoid all possible mistakes. But if you cannot do this task yourself, it is better to find trustworthy writing help, tips and guidelines. These services mostly have an extensive pool of writers with academic degrees and vast experience in different subjects. They know about all requirements and can provide relevant and plagiarism-free text that you can use to get a deeper knowledge of the topic.