Writing for Coursework vs. Writing for Business

Think back to your days as a Trigonometry or Calculus student. Do you recall ever thinking to yourself, “When will I ever use this?” I do. It’d be my most common refrain for skipping the most difficult practice problems or getting a slightly lower grade than I might’ve normally felt comfortable with. It’s a question we lob at (what seem like) esoteric domaines of academia, but we should acknowledge that even this blunt dagger has a bit of a point. Why do we need to memorize the quadratic formula, or know the name Socrates’s wife, or the four Latin verb conjugations?


As writers, and as students who write, we should keep questions like these in mind: do the skills I’m learning as an academic writer ‘translate’ to the writing skills I’ll need in business or my profession? In many ways, academic writing and business writing differ significantly—evidenced by nothing so much as the differences between academic essay writing services like Assignment Help Club and professional writing services—and it’s important to keep these in mind depending on your project.


Write to Learn—Learn to Write!

Academic writing is often described as “writing to learn”. You learn about a course topic in part by reading assigned materials, but just as important is the writing you do about those materials after the fact. Notes, reading responses, evaluative essays, etc. However much some of this writing may ‘make a case’ or ‘argue a point’, all of these help you understand, learn, the material.


Always Be Closing

In this respect, business writing is almost opposed to academic writing. Business writing is designed to provide information to colleagues or clients, to convince them of a business-relevant point, or to get them to buy your product. You’d almost never want to show clients or colleagues in your writing that the point of something you’d asked them to read was your mastery of the topic; that’s a waste of their time. You want your writing in some way to inform them, and so, unlike your academic writing, your business writing will never be for you.


Finding Your Voice

An academic style is almost never appropriate to business writing. In general, your professor knows your topic as well as you do, and so you don’t have as a goal informing or convincing your audience. You might aim to write a convincing paper, but your professor doesn’t need to agree with you to give you an A. You need to write in an appropriately sourced academic style, one that’s attentive to explaining the material (usual relevant course material) and that’s sensitive to arguments and counter-arguments. Moreover, many professors will praise and help develop writing that attempts to develop a student’s own voice or style.


Style Points

In business, your style points are awarded differently. For one, your firm may have a “house style”, which can range from formal rules as small as when to use the em-dash to more informal ideas about the tone of emails and memos. Learning and adhering to this style can be as important as writing arguments that are convincing to your colleague.


But of course writing convincing arguments is important—but for different reasons than writing convincing academic papers. Whereas in school you want to write a convincing paper, in business you want actually to convince your readers. You want your boss to take your recommendation, your colleague to agree with your proposal, your customer to follow your advice. Because of the importance of this category, it’s practically irrelevant that you can cite your sources in MLA 8 format or that a prominent voice in the field agrees with you. In business, even while what’s convincing may depend on, for instance, your sourcing, questions of citation and authority take a backseat to what you’ve written is convincing.

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