what is the difference between a diary and a journal?We often get the question, what is the difference between a diary and a journal? To the casual observer, a diary and a journal may appear to be the same thing. Indeed, many people use the two words interchangeably, unaware that there are some key differences between a diary and a journal.

So what is the difference and why does it matter to you? If you decide to keep a diary, a journal, or both, it matters a great deal and understanding the distinctions will make it easier to share your thoughts, express your opinions and expand on your ideas.

Every diary is different–as is every journal–but the key differences between the two forms of self-expression are largely the same. Here are some of the biggest factors that distinguish a diary from a journal and vice versa.

Diary vs. Journal

  • A diary is a daily report of what happened. Its reporting is fairly straightforward, and it is used to record the events of each day.
  • A journal is much different, and its information is often much deeper. People journal to examine their lives, to see where they are and to think about how they can do better.
  • Journals are often used as tools for self-improvement, while diaries rarely serve this function.
  • Both diaries and journals can be used to describe emotional states but a journal is much more useful for this purpose. When we journal, we delve deeply into our feelings and we use that information to fine-tune our future responses.
  • Diaries often have a specific format, and users often go back and edit their entries. The keepers of journals do little to no editing, although they may refer back to specific times to examine their feelings.
  • Those who keep diaries generally update them on a daily basis, but journal keepers are not tied to any specific schedule. They can update their journals several times a day, daily, weekly or whenever the mood strikes them.
  • Most diaries are solely text-based, while journals often include additional elements, like drawings, favorite quotations, pictures and even poetry.
  • Journaling can be done anywhere and in any format. From online journals and shared platforms to traditional journal books and other text-based options, journals are much more flexible than diaries, which tend to take the form of a simple locked book.

As you can see, diaries and journals do share a lot in common. Both are used to record events, feelings, and basic information. Both are designed as a form of self-expression and self-improvement, and both are highly personal and confidential in nature.

Those similarities are very important, but the distinctions can be even more critical. If you are seeking self-improvement along with your self-expression, keeping a journal could give you additional depth and make your writing more effective. If you simply want to record the events of your daily life, a simple diary may be all you need.

No matter which option you choose, expressing your feelings in written form is good for the soul. Whether you keep a journal, record your daily adventures in a diary or do a little bit of both, you will be the better for it.

What do you think is the difference between a diary and a journal? Do you use these words interchangeably? Let us know in the comments.

  • wolfusvi

    I see more easily a hybrid that draws on both definitions.

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