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Report writing is an important skill to develop as it is a common form of writing at

university and in later employment.

It is important to read your assignment question carefully to find out the specific
requirements of a report in your subject

In general though, reports may differ from essays in a number of ways:

Reports Essays
The purpose of a report is to convey The purpose of an essay
specific information to provide the is to show how well you
reader with information. have understood the
question and are able to
answer it.
A report usually contains a description University essays
of events/results of research. Often usually require some
you need to do more than just describe form of argument in
the events or results**. You may also response to the essay
need to analyse these events or question.
results, or use them to put forward a
proposal for future action or to solve a
particular problem
A report may often contain conclusions An essay will contain a
and recommendations conclusion, but including
recommendations is

Despite these differences, in some disciplines, the distinction between an essay and a
report can be blurred; for example, an essay can be structured more like a report with
headings separating the sections of the essay.

Writing reports
The difference between essays & reports
Usually your lecturer will decide what form your writing should take and will lay it
out in the assessment criteria. However, the further you go into your academic
career, the more freedom of choice you will have. This means that you need to
engage more in the decision of what is the most appropriate form of writing.

For your university life, and for your working life beyond, its important to be able
to distinguish between a report and an essay, and to be able to
understand why you might write one rather than the other.
When choosing to write a report or an essay for your assignment you should
understand these key differences:
Reports are the presentation and analysis of findings from practical research. They
begin with an aim (to investigate, to explore) and probably a hypothesis (a
proposition that the research will test). Depending on the guidelines or purpose, a
report may make recommendations.

Essays begin with a question and seek to answer that question based on
research into existing theories and through the writers own evaluation. An essay
may include results of practical research but only in so far as it may help support
the writers conclusions.
Reports are generally descriptive, reporting sequential events (experiments or
fixed results from surveys etc). However, they involve an evaluation in either
the conclusion or recommendations sections.

Essays can be descriptive, discursive, evaluative, etc. This is dependent on the

process given in the essay question. Content usually involves a synthesis of
knowledge gained from existing texts and from the author's own opinions and
Both essays and reports use an introduction and conclusion format. The main
content, findings, analysis etc. come in between.
A report generally has a fixed structure. The choice of sections will depend on the
purpose of your report and, while at university, the preferences of your lecturer or
In an essay, the thought process taken from the question dictates the structure of
the main body of an essay.