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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Difference between term paper and an essay

Essay and term paper, Are they both same? 

As a student, one is familiar with the academic writing. They are usually given as assignments or may be taken up as a project. Essays and term paper may seem similar but there are few differences which make them apart.

Then what exactly are essay and term paper? 

Essay and term paper come under academic writing but not just limited to academic purpose. They have got lot more of advantages than the mere use of them to pass the exam if we focus upon their details.

An essay is a piece of writing which focuses on expressing an opinion or present facts and statistics to the readers.

Whereas a term paper is more formal in terms of writing it. More than opinions, it needs facts, statistics, and conclusions to be presented well. 

7 differences between an Essay and term paper

1.The approach:

Essays are written with an intention to present one’s opinions either using a formal language or informal language.

Term paper:
Term papers are written for an academic purpose. Though it incorporates one’s point of view, there are lesser chances of expressing opinions as only facts, statistics and scientific data must be collected and presented.


On an average when an essay is written, it can of a five paragraph format. This usually can be of 2 pages length.

Term paper:
The length of a term paper is longer than an essay as it has well-researched points which act as a proof for the arguments that are presented.

3.Research for the topic:

An essay usually can go up to 5000 words or less than that, thus less term is required to write on the given topic.

Term paper:
For writing a term paper, more focus is required for researching the topic, finding reputable sources for finding the information. This will require more time. 

4.Focus on:

When an essay is written, focus is more towards the writing skills and how well the information is represented with good use of words.

Thus whenever an essay is written, there is a demand for great writing skills.

Term paper:
The purpose of writing a term paper is to gather knowledge and an outcome of great skills that were learned during the research.Thus it is more important here to represent knowledge through words than merely writing skills. 

5.Writing style adopted

Essays are of different types; narrative, descriptive, argumentative. All being different from each other requires different writing styles to be adopted.

While narrative and descriptive essays are to be written in an informal language, argumentative essays need to be formal in nature providing strong arguments with supporting points added to it.

Term paper:
Term papers are exclusively written for the academic purpose which supports more facts and statistics. Therefore formal writing which includes references and citations to reputable sources is used while writing a term paper.

6.Critical thinking:

Critical thinking is used in an essay to determine or express perspectives. Hence more concentration should be given towards adopting the writing style that expresses more.

Term paper:
Critical thinking is required to analyze, synthesize materials and draw conclusions while a term paper is written.

7.Type of writing:

Most of the essays are opinion based and included personal views than references It need not support facts and thesis unless has researchable topics.

Term paper:
Term papers are more focused towards real facts and representation of raw data. Hence the type of writing will have information collected via surveys, interviews, and questionnaires 

These are the differences which creates a fine line between an essay and a term paper.

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