Essays and articles are the two forms of assignments that are most frequent in the school curriculum. Even when you're reading something on the web, in the classroom, or a coffee shop — it's probably one of those two writings. Students frequently prepare both these assignments without consulting a college writing manual and paying attention to the key distinguishing factors of each. And, that is a wrong approach. Knowing the purposes of essay or article and their requirements is a helpful skill that you have to possess for successful surviving in academic and business worlds.
An essay is a piece of writing that can be found in the academic sphere the most frequently. But, there are many other opportunities for this type of text to be used. Popular personal essays can be found in the media. For example, they allow the author to discuss and reflect on their experiences while proving a particular statement and engaging an audience to consider an issue.
Generally, an essay is a brief, concise form of non-fiction that comprises an introduction with your thesis statement, support paragraphs, and a conclusion. Everything is as simple as that, and every student has dealt with this academic paper. An important thing to consider here is a type of essay you are working on.
As many other assignments and writings, an essay has several types that can influence its content. Here are some of them:
And, depending on the type of your essay and your intention as an author, this writing may have various purposes:
So, when you are writing an essay, consider your objective to meet the requirements if the type's specifics. This way, if preparing an argumentative, critical, or persuasive essay, you have to make sure that there is enough strong and reliable support details to prove your point. Also, provide a clear and decisive thesis statement — that is required for any essay type. Or, when writing a personal or descriptive paper, you may be less concerned with facts and think more about metaphorical content, engaging sentences, stylistic devices, images, etc. That is a short story where you can discuss a certain issue through the prism of your own viewpoints and beliefs.
With the prevalence of the internet and online communication in today's society, the definition of the article has changed, and now, it conveys a wider variety of texts. In the academic sphere, the article refers to a written composition that is usually non-fiction and prose. There, students should be more precise and logical. It's not formal writing, but its content is rather reasonable, clear, and well-grounded (frequently, it's based on previous studies or articles from the same area).
Outside of the academic context, we cannot miss the internet, blog, and newspaper articles. The majority of those are to-influence-the-audience texts or "gray zone" writings that aim to persuade the reader and change the real world.
Today, when speaking about articles, the first thing that comes to our minds is those text we find on the online-blogs and information websites, in newspapers and journal editions. What do we see there? People may merely describe their everyday life and experience, express their viewpoints and ideas, emphasize critical issues, and resonate with different events occurring around the globe. Or, if it's an academic field, there can be observations and fact about the issue that student can use for their own assignments as a reference.
Here, we have the same distinction — the type of article directly affects its content and the purpose for which you can use such text. Below, there are types you can see most frequently:
You have seen at least some of those, haven't you? So, articles are for different types of the target audience, they are more specific, and, unlike the essays, can be written without future submitting and assessment.
Speaking about essay vs article, we see that both forms of writing look pretty similar and slight differences may not seem important. But when we research and go through different materials — whether it's a magazine, encyclopedia, website, newspaper, or cookbook — we know what type of assigned writing we will encounter.
Pay attention to the overall formatting and structure of each assignment. For example, many articles are written to be straight to the point, and sometimes you can manage it without a fully developed introduction or conclusion (unless your professor or monitor require it).
This way, an article about how to make biscuits may offer "Biscuits are great for breakfast on-the-go and can be made quickly and easily with the following recipe" as an introduction whereas an essay that compares making biscuits to making bread will offer a more extensive and engaging introduction about biscuits and baking as a whole. Also, articles, especially online ones, frequently require photographs or other elements that aims to help the reader perceive the information better or to engage them with the text.
A good way to consider an article is with the term "information." An article is usually what you are looking for (online or offline) to get valuable information on a subject matter. Your aim is a clear, helpful, and relevant data on a particular topic. The wording here should still be pertinent and coherent, but you don't need the writer to support their claims or provide evidential support. Essays may also be informative and precise, but that is rather academic writing where students show their skills and analytical thinking and do their best to get a high grade. It is said that the essay opens up the minds to new ways of looking and thinking about an issue as well as provokes thoughtful questions for exploration.
Another significant difference is that essays are thesis oriented forms of writing, meaning that they are seeking to prove a point or support a claim. Essays may be described as having the main objective. There is always a clear goal expressed through the topic sentences that you, as an author, have to reach by the end of the writing. As for articles, they may be informative or expressive as well. But, the thing is that they don't necessarily offer the same type of evidential support found in most essays. However, a lot here depends on many circumstances from why do you write it (to submit and be assessed or to practice your skills and entertain your subscribers) to what the requirements are (if it's for academic purposes, always consult your professor).