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The Difference between an Essay and an Article

Imagine opening your favorite entertainment magazine or your local newspaper and finding a collection of essays. How long, in that case, would the money you spend on magazines and newspapers be considered part of your entertainment budget?

Essay vs. Article

Articles can be informative and not all of them are entertaining. However, it's more likely to find articles in magazines that offer entertainment for readers than an essay.

Tone

The most notable difference between an essay and an article is the tone. Essays traditionally are subjective pieces of formal writing that offers an analysis of a specific topic. In other words, an essay writer studies, researches, and forms a factually-based opinion on the topic in order to inform others about their ideas.

An article is traditionally objective instead of subjective. Writing an article doesn't always require that an opinion to be formed and expressed, and there's no requirement that an analysis be offered about the information being presented.

Structure

Scroll through a copy of Cosmopolitan, National Geographic, and today's edition of your local newspaper, and you'll get a sense of how articles can be structured in numerous different ways. Some include headings and subheadings along with accompanying photos to paint a picture for the reader to form their own thoughts and opinions about the subject of an article.

Essays, however, have more strict guidelines on structure depending on which type of essay a writer has chosen. Traditionally, readers will see an introductory paragraph that presents a thesis statement, body paragraphs with topic sentences that relate back to and flesh out the thesis, and a conclusion with the author's take on the information presented.

Entertainment Factor

While narrative essays can tell entertaining stories, it is articles that are most often included in magazines and newspapers to keep their subscribers informed and reading.

It's up to the writer of an article what message they want to convey. Sometimes that message is informative and sometimes it's humorous. For an essay writer, it's all about learning as much as possible about a topic, forming an opinion, and describing how they came to that opinion and why.

You're not likely to find essays in entertainment magazines. A person seeking in-depth information on a subject is going to seek out an essay, while a person looking for an entertaining piece of writing that allows them to draw their own conclusions will be more likely to seek out an article.