What Are the Major Differences Between a Report and an Essay?

Both essays and reports are very important parts of academic and professional life and therefore, it is quite important to learn about them as much as possible. However, many students are often confused that what major differences these two documents have.

There are various similarities between the two and going through both in details, we have found some of the major differences which we would like to share with our readers to help them be as clear as possible about a report and an essay.

Major Differences

A report is basically a document that contains information in a very well organized manner. It may talk about prevailing problems, events happening in an organizational setup or findings that generated through research. On the other hand, an essay is simply a short piece of formal writing and it mainly discusses a single subject. In most of the cases, the topics are academic.
Reports may be formal or informal, short or long, informational or analytical, internal or external. Reports may even be in form of academic papers which are commonly known as journal article. However, a writer has to be very careful while writing a formal report because it contains sensitive and suggestive information. There are various types of essays such as narrative essays in which one usually tells a story. There are descriptive types of essays in which a writer users words to craft an imaginary picture in readers mind. Another type of essay is Expository which are merely based on facts. Persuasive essays are used to convince readers to understand and accept writer’s point of view.
Report writing is quite tough but it is considered a significant skill because it is used in college, university and during professional career as well.On contrary to report, essay writing is easier and it is usually required by the university and colleges.
An essay may include subheadings but it is not necessary in all essays.You can divide a report into different sections through headings and subheadings.
The basic purpose of report writing is to point out a certain problem and make recommendation to solve it. The basic purpose of essay writing is to provide information to the readers.
When somebody wants to highlight practical issues in professional working environment, he would usually prefer to use a report. On contrary when someone would like to talk about something more academic, he would prefer to use an essay.
Reports are common in professional lifeWhile the essays are common in academic life.
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Major Similarities


Besides major differences, there are some similarities as well.

  • Though, a report can be formal or informal, it is usually better to use a formal writing tone. Similarly in case of essay, it is also suggested to use a formal tone.
  • No matter if you are writing a report or an essay, you must double-check formatting, grammar and spellings.
  • When it comes to the main discussion, it is better to be discussed in main body of both types of papers.
  • Introduction is always a starting section of both essay and report while the conclusion should be put after the main discussion in main body.