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The Difference Between Academic Writing and Professional Writing

Student working on their academic writing Academic writing and professional writing are extremely different, and you will likely encounter both of these styles at different points in your life.

While you are in university, academic writing will take up most of your assignments. However, when it comes time to graduate, you may find it’s time to sharpen those professional writing skills. If you’re taking business courses, it’s also likely that you’ve already encountered these different techniques.

So what exactly sets these two styles apart? We’re ready to help you distinguish between the two and maximize your full potential every step of your journey.

You Have Different Goals in Academic Writing vs. Professional Writing

One of the biggest differences is that academic writing is done mostly to showcase your research and expertise in a specific area or topic of interest, while professional writing is often done to influence or convince someone of something. Usually, you would write a professional document in a business setting to project an idea to colleagues or propose a project.

Different People Are Listening

Your audience is typically different in both of these situations. Academic writing is done for academia: professors, fellow students, researchers, and industry experts such as scientists or historians. Professional writing is targeted to colleagues, businesspeople, managers, and sometimes clients.

Tone of Voice Can Change

Professional documents can be written in a different tone than academic works because you have a little more wiggle room to present your ideas. For example, most academic papers are written in third person narrative, while professional writing can sometimes be written in first person depending on the specific situation or context.

Active and Passive Voice

Your academic paper will often be written for someone who has more time on their hands to go through and read your arguments. Therefore, your sentences can be longer and use passive voice for these documents. However, for most professional documents, your audience likely has many other reports or papers to read and will skim through for the main points. This means that your sentences should be shorter, more to the point, and in the active voice.

Get Help With Any Writing Style

Whether you need help with academic writing or professional writing, we have a team that’s ready to jump in and give you the support you need. All of our writers are highly experienced with years of practice getting the right techniques down to help you ace all of your classes and assignments.

Get a quote now to stay ahead of the game on all of your papers and documents.

Taylor, P. (2015). Differences between academic and professional/business writing. LinkedIn. Retrieved from