Business writing is intended to further a business's interests in commerce, while academic writing is intended to teach or demonstrate knowledge. Business and academic writing are fundamentally different in purpose, audience and genre.

The purpose of business writing is to contribute to the growth of a business organization by explaining solutions to problems, reporting financial information, proposing strategies and storing information. Business writing is aimed at a diverse audience including stakeholders, employees and management. Business writers produce reports, marketing plans, proposals and brochures. In these genres, writers use a direct, succinct style written in active voice with action verbs.

The purpose of academic writing is to teach or demonstrate knowledge in a particular discipline. Often the audience of academic writing is limited to colleagues, research fellows and other people working within the same discipline. As a result, academic writers can rely on the audience to already possess background knowledge on the subject matter. Academic writing includes essays, journal articles and oral presentations written from an objective point of view with an intent to persuade the audience of a particular thesis or expound on information derived from the author's research. Academic writers typically present content in extended paragraphs with complex sentences intended to convey the nuances of complex ideas and information.