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What Is The Difference Between Academic Writing And Literary Writing?

Everyone agrees that there’s a difference between academic writing and literary writing, but everyone also seems to have a different opinion about what the difference actually is. In this article, we’ll break down and answer one of the most frequently asked questions in English classrooms all over the world: what is the difference between academic writing and literary writing? We’ll explore these two types of writing and show you how to utilize both in your college coursework and beyond.

How Do We Define A Genre?

A genre is a specific type of literature with its own set of conventions, standards, and expectations. Genres are often determined by the audience, the purpose for writing, or the form of the literature. For example, we can think of poetry as a genre that is written in verse and often uses rhyme.

On the other hand, we can think of fiction as a genre that tells a story through prose. So, what is the difference between academic writing and literary writing? The answer to this question has to do with both style and content.

There are many different types of genres within the academic world, such as creative nonfiction, research papers, memoirs, biographies, textbooks, textbooks on literature, and more. They all have their own structure and style requirements, but they all share one common factor: they tend to be dryer than their literary counterparts because they focus on facts rather than exploring emotions or feelings.

How Does It Influence the Style of Language?

It is important to understand the difference between academic and literary writing because the style of language used in each type of writing is different. In academic writing, the focus is on clarity and precision, while in literary writing, the focus is on beauty and artistry. The choice of words, sentence structure, and even punctuation marks are all influenced by the purpose of the writing. Understanding the difference between these two types of writing can help you make better choices in your own writing.

For example, if you want to persuade an audience with a clear argument, then you would use a very formal style in academic writing. On the other hand, if you want to create a piece of literature that is artistic and beautiful, then there would be no need for a lot of formality or precision in work.

When Should I Use a First Person Point of View?

In academic writing, the first-person point of view is usually considered inappropriate. This is because academic writing is supposed to be objective and impartial. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, you might be able to use the first-person point of view in a personal essay or letter.

In literary writing, the first-person point of view is often used to create a more intimate connection between the reader and the narrator. It can also help develop the voice of a character. If you want to use the first-person point of view in your work, it’s important that you consider why it’s being used and if it will serve your narrative effectively.

How Can I Write an Engaging Story?

There are many differences between academic and literary writing. Still, the most important one is probably this: literary writing is meant to be read for pleasure, while academic writing is meant to be read for information. The style of these two types of writing is also different.

In a book review, you might describe how the plot unfolded and your favorite scenes; in an essay about Brave New World, you might explore how Huxley’s social commentary still applies today.

You may need to use more complex vocabulary in an academic paper than in a novel, as well as make use of sources like footnotes or parenthetical citations when referring to outside sources.

Are There Any Tried and Tested Rules for This?

No, there are no tried and tested rules for this. The main difference between academic and literary writing is that literary writing is usually more creative and expressive, while academic writing is more formal. That said, there are always exceptions to the rule, and some academic writers do manage to be quite creative and expressive in their work. It really depends on the individual writer’s style.

In general, however, academics write using more complex sentence structures and less imagery than literary writers. They also tend to use more technical jargon, which may confuse readers who are not well-versed in the subject matter.

Furthermore, they may employ metaphors or analogies which will not resonate with a general audience but might be useful for academics within the field of study.

How Do I Know If My Reader Will Find This Interesting?

Differentiating between academic and literary writing can be tricky. After all, both genres can be used to express thoughts and ideas. However, the key difference lies in the purpose of the writing. Academic writing is formal and often used to share research or present findings, while literary writing is more creative and expressive.

Here are a few tips to help you tell the difference: 

  1. Purpose –While academic writing is usually focused on research and presenting findings, literary writing is meant to engage readers with creativity and emotion.
  2. Formality –In an academic paper, the language will typically be formal so that readers easily understand it without specialized knowledge. In contrast, literary texts use more informal language that’s not only easy for readers to understand but also helps convey emotions or subtle meanings.
  3. Point of View –In academia, there are strict rules about which words can be used when speaking about subjects (think: social determinants). Meanwhile, authors have much more freedom when discussing their own experiences or sharing opinions with readers in literature.
  4. Structure – Academic essays need a clear introduction, body paragraphs with evidence, and a conclusion. A literary text might take many different forms depending on the subject matter or author’s style.
  5. Style – You’ll find straightforward sentences in academic writing, while these same sentences may read like poetry in literary texts.
  6. Format –Most academic essays need to be broken down into sections and sub-sections, which should include a topic sentence at or near the beginning of each paragraph. A literary text can have a more free-flowing format with no clear beginning or end.

If you’re still unsure whether your writing falls into academic or literary territory, here’s a simple trick: ask yourself how your reader will know if they should keep reading.


In short, the main difference between academic and literary writing is that academic writing is more formal, while literary writing can be more creative and expressive. While there are some exceptions, academic writing generally uses a third-person point of view and avoids personal pronouns like I or we. It also focuses on facts and evidence to support claims, while literary writing may use emotion or personal experience to make its point. Finally, academic writing is often assigned to students to measure their understanding of a topic, while literary writing is typically written for pleasure or to express an opinion.

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