Skip to main content

Academic vs. Non-academic Writing Styles -010


Writing style is one of the most important aspects in writing. It is the manner in which an author chooses to write to specific audience or readers. A style signifies the writer's personality and voice toward the readers. Among the different styles of writing, academic and non-academic are the most commonly used styles. Both varieties of writing are different in many ways. This essay focuses on the aspects in which academic and non-academic writing can be contrasted.

One of the differences between academic and non-academic writing can be recognized through the aim of the used style. According to Hashimoto et al (1982) the main aim of academic writing is to provide facts and information on a particular academic subject which has been collected through observation and reading ( p.1 ). In contrast, non-academic writing or as it is called the “Personal writing” tends to express the writer’s own opinion on personal topics, such as childhood, family, or personal experiences.

The audience and organization are other aspects of the differences between academic and non-academic writing styles. In relation to what has been mentioned above, specific types of audience, usually teachers and scholars are considered the audience of academic writing. Conversely, personal writing is written for non-academic purposes and audience. The structurein which ideas are organized is also a recognizable aspect of academic writing. In this style, ideas are well planned and usually put in a specific order in paragraphs and in complete and comprehensive sentences. These ideas, involved in paragraphs, are perfectly connected, whereas personal writing style is less likely to follow any specific structure, therefore no much coherence can be realized in this style.

Every writing style has its own tone which determines the choice of words and grammatical structures. Avoiding vague language such as ‘a bit‘, ‘stuff‘, or ‘thing‘ is common in academic writing while it can be used in non-academic style. Academic writing also avoids using contracted forms, personal pronouns, hesitation fillers, and using first names of people when referring to other researchers. Using the passive voice as well as complex sentences is also a common feature of academic writing style. Unlike academic writing, non-academic writing uses short simple sentences and the active voice.

The further difference between academic and non-academic writing styles is referencing. Citation and referencing of other authors’ writings is common in academic writing. A list of books or other references can be seen at the end of reports, essays, or theses, for example, referring to the place from where arguments and ideas were developed. In personal writing, writers may not need to cite any references since they express their own ideas, opinions, or life experiences.

In conclusion, academic and non-academic writing are different in purpose, audience and organization, diction, and referencing. Academic writing is serious, formal and based on investigation, while non-academic writing is a personal style which is subjective in nature.

Scroll to Continue


Massey University. (2011, January 10). What is Academic Writing? Retrieved from

University Writing Center. (n.d.). Academic versus Non-academic Writing. Retrieved from

Hashimoto,I, Kroll,B, Schafer,J. (1982 ). Strategies For Academic Writing: A guide for college students. USA: Michigan UP.

Hamp-Lyons,L. Heasly,B.(2007). Study Writing: A course in writing skills for academic purposes. UK:Cambridge UP.

Related Articles