How to Write a University Essay

The differences between academic and creative writing

Creative writing is different to academic writing. Writing for websites is different to writing for newspaper columns. Journal entries are different to writing press releases on behalf of a brand. Writing purposes do vary. It’s important that when undertaking any writing you have a firm grasp on this concept.

Let’s look at the fundamental differences between academic and creative writing.

The Principal Difference

Style is the chief difference between academic and creative writing. Creative writing need not adhere to any specific style parameters. Academic writing is different. Academic writing needs to be structured and executed adhering to a series of guidelines. Indeed, so stringent are these guidelines that academic institutions include these guidelines as part of their curriculum.

Style Guidelines Outlined

These documents or manuals outline the rules and standards needed for successful execution of any written exercise. A quick Google search and you’ll find web pages dedicated to clearly communicating the guidelines of academic writing. However, many institutions have their own stylistic guidelines.

Common Style Guide Conventions vs. Informal Writing

Here is a look some of the differences between informal writing and conventional, academic writing.

Contractions – generally speaking contractions are acceptable in academic writing, though overuse will dilute the integrity of the writing. Studying academic writing you’ll see that the writing makes use of contractions to get points across.

Technical terminology –when writing for academic purposes it’s important that you always bear the audience in mind. If you’re writing for a niche market alone the audience will understand any jargon that may be lost on the layman. Take out technical terminology altogether if writing for a diverse audience.

Reference appropriately – good academic writing includes references for any information used to support your argument. These need to be referenced appropriately.

Colloquial expressions and clichés – creative writing, especially dialogue, will have expressions that are unique to that character. However, these should not be used in academic writing. For example, it’s unwise to describe Noam Chomsky’s contribution to linguistics as ‘awesome.’

These are just a few tips for anyone considering how to cater their writing for academic or creative purposes. Follow these are you will give yourself the best possible chance of executing a well-crafted piece of work, no matter the purpose.