Journal vs Diary: Difference and Comparison

Maintaining a journal or diary has been a New Year’s resolution for every human at least a couple of times in their lifetime.

However, the exact difference between the two terms is often disregarded and they end up being used in place of each other. Both diaries and journals recount the writer’s life events, but in a vastly different way.

Key Takeaways

  1. A journal focuses on recording thoughts, feelings, and reflections, while a diary is a daily log of events and experiences.
  2. Journals can be structured or unstructured, while diaries follow a chronological format.
  3. A journal may include sketches, notes, and quotes, while a diary generally contains personal accounts of daily activities.

Journal vs Diary

The difference between a journal and a diary is the level of personal intimacy that they offer or provide to the ones maintaining them. Journals are considered much more personal than diaries, this is because journals contains the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and moods experienced by the individual whereas diaries are used to catalog the daily activities of the person writing them.

Journal vs Diary

A journal refers to a collection of thoughts, ideas, moods, events, sketches, rough drafts, experiences, doodles, lists, etc… that a person notes down.

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It can be summarized as a recounting random collection of thoughts or feelings that the person stores in his or her journal. They do not follow a given pattern or order, as they tend to be a collection of things that the writer deems necessary to note down.

A diary catalogs the daily activities or events that a person experiences or attends in chronological order. A diary also contains content in a more organized format that clearly lists down the day-to-day activities of the person in question.

It essentially is a timeline to the activities experienced by the person.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonJournalDiary
MeaningA journal is an informal collection of thoughts, ideas, musings, feelings, expressions, sketches, or doodles noted down by an individual.A diary can be defined as a medium in which a person keeps a daily log of events and experiences.
OrderA journal does not follow any particular order or pattern. Therefore, it is not chronologically dated.A diary notes down the list of activities, events, feelings that a person experiences each day; therefore chronological in nature.
Personal NatureContains detailed descriptions of feelings or experiences the individual experiences, therefore is of a more personal nature.Diaries contain logs from everyday events of the person. It therefore, does not contain several personal or detailed experiences. 
PopularityAs journals do not follow strict rules, they are increasingly popular, with the term gaining due recognition.People mistake journals for diaries. The term “diary” is popular, but in practice maintaining diaries is comparatively less popular.
TypesApart from its random appeal, journals are also maintained for specific purposes such as dream journals, food journal, etc.Diaries used personally contain happenings of an individual’s life while formal organizations include business’ daily trade, meetings, schedules, appointments, etc…

What is a Journal?

Journal refers to an informal recounting of an individual’s feelings, thoughts, ideas, moods, events, sketches, rough drafts, experiences, doodles, lists, etc… in a notebook. This process of maintaining a journal is known as journaling.

Journals contain experiences, events, feelings, and emotions that an individual deems important enough to note down.

This does not mean that journals necessarily only contain events of importance, as they can also contain random musings or even song lyrics that an individual wishes to write down.

There is no chronological order to the contents of a journal. Journals do not follow any rules, formal, or given set of patterns. It is unique to each individual. And therefore, popular in its use.

Journals can be aptly summarized as recounting a random collection of thoughts or feelings experienced by an individual that the person stores in his or her journal.

Although the term “journal” is often substituted by the word “diary”, it has been observed that more individuals incorrectly label their habit of writing journals with maintaining diaries.

Journals contain personal opinions of thoughts of people and therefore considered to be sensitive and intimate. People who maintain journals do not wish to disclose its contents to others.

The art of journal keeping is popular and can be of great help and relief to individuals practicing it.

journal

What is a Diary?

Diaries are a record of entries that describe your life over a period of time, on a daily basis. A diary can be defined as a medium in which a person keeps a daily log of events and experiences, in a formal way.

This can include catalogs of daily activities or events that the individual experiences, a list of people, appointments, or commitments of the individual in chronological order. The chronological record of entries is a salient feature of keeping diaries.

It is also observed that diaries contain content in a more organized format that clearly lists down the day-to-day activities of the person in question.

It essentially is a timeline to the activities experienced by the person as it contains most of the events experienced on any given day.

This is heavily helpful to people who lead a busy life that contains important events on a daily basis and they might come across the need to refer to the happenings of their days later.

It is popularly used by businessmen, managers, and sales representatives in a formal organization in order to keep track of trading activities, transactions, client meetings, and conferences that the individuals may attend.

Diaries are also maintained in several informal instances where people love writing and find the act of recollecting their day soothing.

diary

Main Differences Between Journal and Diary

  1. All diaries can be considered journals, but all journals cannot be considered diaries. This is an important distinction between the two terms as it conveys that the chronological order of events is necessary to call a recording of events a diary but the same is not applicable to journals.
  2. Diaries are catalogs in strictly chronological order, whereas journals do not do so. A journal does not follow any particular order or pattern. Therefore, it is not chronologically dated.
  3. Diaries are used in maintaining track or record of the events and happenings in a day, while journals contain random thoughts, feelings, events, doodles, etc.
  4. Diaries are more popular in a formal setting, while journals are preferred by individuals who wish to write about events or things of a more personal nature.
  5. Diaries and journals can be of various types depending on their purpose. These can include travel diaries, dream journals, etc.
Difference Between Journal and Diary
References
  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1995-21244-001
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=1cEe98nd5iYC&oi=fnd&pg=PP11&dq=journal+keeping&ots=e2AoQC4CRf&sig=W0L5y16bPkyOLpErIQnbRRQ1s50

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