The Difference Between Academic Writing and Content Writing

10 Dec.2017

It is a common mistake to think all types of writings are the same. Writing a blog or an essay is completely different from writing an academic piece. Academic writings need to follow some strict rules.

What is academic writing?

Academic writing mainly involves writing reports, papers or essays focusing on research data. The purpose is not to promote or entertain the readers. But to convey scholarly information to a small group of qualified audiences.  

What is content writing?

Content writing is mainly done for the websites, blogs or other online media. The purpose of content writing is to promote a website or a business to a comparatively large set of audiences. Another aim of web contents is to help a site rank better in search results.

The differences

Here are the key differences between academic writing and content writing.

  • Citation:

    An academic writing needs to have references. It is very important to use proper citation for any data used. There are different rules on how to cite a source.

    A regular content may also use data and references. But here the data validation rules are not strict. A hyperlink is good enough to point to a reference.

  • Structure:

    An academic article has a very well defined structure. General content writing does not need to be that systematic. Depending on the topic and purpose, a content can have any shape or form.

  • Tone:

    Academic or scholarly writing is formal in nature. It is not supposed to have a personal tone. Sentences cannot be ambiguous. Each sentence should have a clear meaning and purpose. Academic articles are not a good place to express personal opinions.

    Web contents are usually informal. A personal tone is appreciated here. However, each website has its own brand voice. And the contents of the website should reflect that.  

  • Sentences:

    Short sentences are ideal for contents. It makes them easy to read and understand. But they are not always good at academic writing.

    Staying away from ambiguity is more important in scholarly works. Complex sentences are often used in that regard.  

  • Images:

    Academic writing may require images. These images complement the central idea presented in the article. No image is used for decorative purpose. And each image must be accurate.

    In content writing, images serve several purposes. One is to grab the attention of the reader. Images make the article more presentable. They help the writer illustrate their key points. Most of the articles on the web also have a feature image.

Academic writing is a completely different thing than everyday writings. You need to be a subject expert or at least need to do some deep methodical research to write an academic content.

General contents do not require that much formal research. But it never means it is easy to write high-quality web content either. Making an article readable, interesting and marketable is quite difficult. No matter what type of content you write, you need to put a lot of time and effort to succeed.

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