Quick Guide: Report Vs. Essay Structure

Most of the time, you may need help drawing the line between report vs. essay structure. Understanding the distinction between a report and an essay and when to write each will be beneficial in school and the workplace.

This article will guide you in this endeavor. It describes a report and an essay and identifies significant distinctions between a report and an essay.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

What Is a Report?

A report starts with a purpose to learn more or proceed on a new path, followed by a theory that the research will test. It consists of the presentation and interpretation of the findings, followed by recommendations. A report’s suggestion depends on the report’s parameters or its intended use.

What Is an Essay?

An essay is any piece of written work composed of an introduction, body, conclusion, and optionally, a section entitled “Works Cited.”

Essays pose questions and attempt to provide answers by analyzing relevant literature and offering the author’s take on the topic. Practical research findings may be used in an essay if they serve to bolster the author’s central point.

Report Vs. Essay Structure: 8 Key Differences

1. Table of Content

Reports are presented with a table of contents. An essay doesn’t contain a table of contents.

2. Sections and Sub-Sections

Using the IMRaD structure, reports are organized into titled and numbered sections and sometimes sub-sections (see below). Essays aren’t separated into sections. However, you may include appendices with separate headings.

3. Scope of Study

Reports often emerge from fields outside of academia and are employed in the workplace. Academic contexts, including practice-based disciplines, are the root of essays.

4. Data Collation

Reports include data and conclusions you have acquired yourself, such as through a survey, experiment, or case study. Some essays emphasize the application of theory to one’s field of employment.

5. Basis of Findings

Essays focus on analyzing or assessing theories, previous research, and concepts. They may involve applying theory to practice if you work in an area dependent on practice.

6. Mode of Presentation

Typically, a report incorporates tables, charts, and diagrams. Typically, essays do not contain tables, charts, or graphs.

7. Strategies Employed

Typically, reports provide descriptions of the methods employed. On the other hand, essays do not discuss the strategies you utilized to reach your findings.

8. Process and Suggestions

In the discussion section of a report, it is common to comment on how the research could be improved and expanded. It is also a norm to critique the methodologies and procedures employed.

Typically, essays do not reflect the process of researching and writing the essay. Sometimes, reports include recommendations. Essays don’t include suggestions.


An essay is very different from a report, and to do them both well requires a different mentality. This report vs essay structure is all you need to ensure their differences are apparent.

Remember that reports are more about data and analysis, while essays are about giving life to ideas and understanding the big picture.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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