Essay is "a short piece of writing on a particular subject." based on Oxford Dictionaries definition

However I don't know exactly what a report is. is it "information about something:"(https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/report)?

what is the difference between them especially in academia

  • 3
    The dictionaries aren't particularly informative here, but there's a bunch of information online if you search for "essay vs. report". The specifics may vary, but usually an essay is a continuous piece of prose presenting an argument, while a report presents information and can include things like bullet points, tables and charts. Mar 19, 2021 at 22:43
  • 1
    visit Wikipedia if you desire more detail en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essay and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Report
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 19, 2021 at 23:02
  • I suggest you edit the question and ask the question you really want the answer to. Should the past tense be always used in a report, and if so, why?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 19, 2021 at 23:13

2 Answers 2


Briefly, an essay is often a piece of writing where the author is discussing a statement or presenting a point of view. In schools it is usually formal and factual, but the student gets the opportunity to express their opinion as long as it is supported with valid examples and data.

On the other hand, a report is a collection of facts, data, and often involves the results of a survey or questionnaire. It should be formal and neutral and presented in such a way that the reader finds the relevant pieces of information as quickly and as easily as possible.

  • aren't both of them a collection of facts and data and formal so what is the difference?
    – pobig43001
    Mar 19, 2021 at 22:54
  • I thought I said the author can express their opinion in an essay. It is a freer piece of writing but not as free as an article.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 19, 2021 at 22:56
  • do reports always use past tense since they are collections of facts, data and often involve surveys or questionnaire?
    – pobig43001
    Mar 19, 2021 at 22:58
  • It depends on the author. If they want to represent information that is relevant to "now" by using the present tense it should be possible
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 19, 2021 at 23:00
  • I found these (answers.com/Q/Is_a_report_written_in_past_tense) (quora.com/Is-a-report-written-in-past-tense) and that they should be written in past tense and it is confusing to me to be honest
    – pobig43001
    Mar 19, 2021 at 23:07

"Report" is more general than "essay" and can have a wider range of connotations or implications, so it may need more adjectives or context around it as compared with an essay, for the listener's understanding. An essay is most often understood to be a relatively short piece of writing on a certain topic, while a report can be spoken, written, short, long, and so on. Reports have a wider range of usage than essays, which are commonly found in academic or literary contexts. Reports are common in media, institutions, scientific contexts, organizations, and so on.

  • you can also write an essay more generally? I mean I am still confused, what is the real difference since I see none.
    – pobig43001
    Mar 20, 2021 at 17:11
  • An essay can fulfil the purpose of a report and vice versa. The word essay is just more specific than a report.
    – Rubrud
    Mar 20, 2021 at 17:27
  • so they are the same thing?
    – pobig43001
    Mar 20, 2021 at 17:28
  • "Report" has multiple meanings. So they can mean the same thing if you're using "report" to describe an essay that fulfils the purpose of a report.
    – Rubrud
    Mar 20, 2021 at 17:29
  • @Ruburd but what is the difference for instance "formal report" and "essay" what is the difference ?
    – pobig43001
    Mar 20, 2021 at 17:41

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