Report writing is common in a number of disciplines. A report is a specific form of writing, written concisely and clearly and typically organised around identifying and examining issues, events, or findings from a research investigation.
Reports often involve investigating and analysing a problem and coming up with a solution. This means that you need to take a position or provide a solution and you need clear reasons for your solution.
A key, central message is a vital part of the report and will help to make it clear and persuasive.
A report might involve
- an analysis of existing data and literature
- conducting analysis and problem solving
- results of an investigation
Whatever the type of report, they are expected to be well written, clearly structured and expressed in a way that suits the particular audience. Results and analysis should be accurate, clear and objective. Report structures can vary between disciplines and audiences but the structure needs to support the key message.
Reports differ from essays in a number of ways. Consider the following:
Report writing process
It can be helpful to think of writing your report as a process and to break it down into the various tasks that you need to complete.
What goes on when you are writing a report? What are the various tasks you need to do to complete it?
There are three main phases:
The preparation phase where you analyse exactly what you are being asked to do and if you are working in a group, agree on the group communication plan.
The analysis phase where you gather all your evidence, conduct research, undertake investigations, complete coding, calculations etc
The analysis phase will enable you to come up with your key message - your answer to the question/solution to the problem. This key message will then determine the structure of your report and enable you to complete the writing phase of the report.
A note on group work
Reports are often written in groups, which present both rewards and challenges. The key to effective group work is effective communication and good planning. See our advice on group work for useful strategies to ensure a productive and fair group project.
Understanding the task >>
Understanding the task
Analysis and research
Writing the report
- Engineering and computer science report writing workshop slides (PDF, 3.18 MB)
- OWeek slides, Business Report writing (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Use contact details to request an alternative file format.
- ANU Library Academic Skills
- +61 2 6125 2972
- WRITING SKILLS
- Business Writing
How to Write a Report
- A - Z List of Writing Skills
The Essentials of Writing
- Common Mistakes in Writing
- Improving Your Grammar
- Active and Passive Voice
- Using Plain English
- Writing in UK and US English
- Clarity in Writing
- Writing Concisely
- Coherence in Writing
- The Importance of Structure
- Know Your Audience
- Know Your Medium
- Business Writing Tips
- How to Write a To-Do List
- How to Write a Business Case
- How to Write a Press Release
- Writing a Marketing Strategy
- Writing Marketing Copy
- How to Write an Executive Summary
- Taking Minutes and the Role of the Secretary
- How to Write a Letter
- Writing Effective Emails
- Good Email Etiquette
- Write Emails that Convince, Influence and Persuade
- Storytelling in Business
- Using LinkedIn Effectively
Subscribe to our FREE newsletter and start improving your life in just 5 minutes a day.
You'll get our 5 free 'One Minute Life Skills' and our weekly newsletter.
We'll never share your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Some academic assignments ask for a ‘report’, rather than an essay, and students are often confused about what that really means.
Likewise, in business, confronted with a request for a ‘report’ to a senior manager, many people struggle to know what to write.
Confusion often arises about the writing style, what to include, the language to use, the length of the document and other factors.
This page aims to disentangle some of these elements, and provide you with some advice designed to help you to write a good report.
What is a Report?
In academia there is some overlap between reports and essays, and the two words are sometimes used interchangeably, but reports are more likely to be needed for business, scientific and technical subjects, and in the workplace.
Whereas an essay presents arguments and reasoning, a report concentrates on facts.
Essentially, a report is a short, sharp, concise document which is written for a particular purpose and audience. It generally sets outs and analyses a situation or problem, often making recommendations for future action. It is a factual paper, and needs to be clear and well-structured.
Requirements for the precise form and content of a report will vary between organisation and departments and in study between courses, from tutor to tutor, as well as between subjects, so it’s worth finding out if there are any specific guidelines before you start.
Reports may contain some or all of the following elements:
- A description of a sequence of events or a situation;
- Some interpretation of the significance of these events or situation, whether solely your own analysis or informed by the views of others, always carefully referenced of course (see our page on Academic Referencing for more information);
- An evaluation of the facts or the results of your research;
- Discussion of the likely outcomes of future courses of action;
- Your recommendations as to a course of action; and
Not all of these elements will be essential in every report.
If you’re writing a report in the workplace, check whether there are any standard guidelines or structure that you need to use.
For example, in the UK many government departments have outline structures for reports to ministers that must be followed exactly.
Sections and Numbering
A report is designed to lead people through the information in a structured way, but also to enable them to find the information that they want quickly and easily.
Reports usually, therefore, have numbered sections and subsections, and a clear and full contents page listing each heading. It follows that page numbering is important.
Modern word processors have features to add tables of contents (ToC) and page numbers as well as styled headings; you should take advantage of these as they update automatically as you edit your report, moving, adding or deleting sections.
Getting started: prior preparation and planning.
The structure of a report is very important to lead the reader through your thinking to a course of action and/or decision. It’s worth taking a bit of time to plan it out beforehand.
Step 1: Know your brief
You will usually receive a clear brief for a report, including what you are studying and for whom the report should be prepared.
First of all, consider your brief very carefully and make sure that you are clear who the report is for (if you're a student then not just your tutor, but who it is supposed to be written for), and why you are writing it, as well as what you want the reader to do at the end of reading: make a decision or agree a recommendation, perhaps.
Step 2: Keep your brief in mind at all times
During your planning and writing, make sure that you keep your brief in mind: who are you writing for, and why are you writing?
All your thinking needs to be focused on that, which may require you to be ruthless in your reading and thinking. Anything irrelevant should be discarded.
As you read and research, try to organise your work into sections by theme, a bit like writing a Literature Review .
Make sure that you keep track of your references, especially for academic work. Although referencing is perhaps less important in the workplace, it’s also important that you can substantiate any assertions that you make so it’s helpful to keep track of your sources of information.
The Structure of a Report
Like the precise content, requirements for structure vary, so do check what’s set out in any guidance.
However, as a rough guide, you should plan to include at the very least an executive summary, introduction, the main body of your report, and a section containing your conclusions and any recommendations.
The executive summary or abstract , for a scientific report, is a brief summary of the contents. It’s worth writing this last, when you know the key points to draw out. It should be no more than half a page to a page in length.
Remember the executive summary is designed to give busy 'executives' a quick summary of the contents of the report.
The introduction sets out what you plan to say and provides a brief summary of the problem under discussion. It should also touch briefly on your conclusions.
Report Main Body
The main body of the report should be carefully structured in a way that leads the reader through the issue.
You should split it into sections using numbered sub-headings relating to themes or areas for consideration. For each theme, you should aim to set out clearly and concisely the main issue under discussion and any areas of difficulty or disagreement. It may also include experimental results. All the information that you present should be related back to the brief and the precise subject under discussion.
If it’s not relevant, leave it out.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The conclusion sets out what inferences you draw from the information, including any experimental results. It may include recommendations, or these may be included in a separate section.
Recommendations suggest how you think the situation could be improved, and should be specific, achievable and measurable. If your recommendations have financial implications, you should set these out clearly, with estimated costs if possible.
A Word on Writing Style
When writing a report, your aim should be to be absolutely clear. Above all, it should be easy to read and understand, even to someone with little knowledge of the subject area.
You should therefore aim for crisp, precise text, using plain English, and shorter words rather than longer, with short sentences.
You should also avoid jargon. If you have to use specialist language, you should explain each word as you use it. If you find that you’ve had to explain more than about five words, you’re probably using too much jargon, and need to replace some of it with simpler words.
Consider your audience. If the report is designed to be written for a particular person, check whether you should be writing it to ‘you’ or perhaps in the third person to a job role: ‘The Chief Executive may like to consider…’, or ‘The minister is recommended to agree…’, for example.
A Final Warning
As with any academic assignment or formal piece of writing, your work will benefit from being read over again and edited ruthlessly for sense and style.
Pay particular attention to whether all the information that you have included is relevant. Also remember to check tenses, which person you have written in, grammar and spelling. It’s also worth one last check against any requirements on structure.
For an academic assignment, make sure that you have referenced fully and correctly. As always, check that you have not inadvertently or deliberately plagiarised or copied anything without acknowledging it.
Finally, ask yourself:
“Does my report fulfil its purpose?”
Only if the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ should you send it off to its intended recipient.
Continue to: How to Write a Business Case Planning an Essay
See also: Business Writing Tips Study Skills Writing a Dissertation or Thesis
Report writing: overview.
- Scientific Reports
- Business Reports
Reports are typical workplace writing. Writing reports as coursework can help you prepare to write better reports in your work life.
Reports are always written for a specific purpose and audience. They can present findings of a research; development of a project; analysis of a situation; proposals or solutions for a problem. They should inlcude referenced data or facts.
Reports should be structured in headings and sub-headings, and easy to navigate. They should be written in a very clear and concise language.
What makes a good report?
Following the instructions
You may have been given a report brief that provides you with instructions and guidelines. The report brief may outline the purpose, audience and problem or issue that your report must address, together with any specific requirements for format or structure. Thus, always check the report guidelines before starting your assignment.
An effective report presents and analyses evidence that is relevant to the specific problem or issue you have been instructed to address. Always think of the audience and purpose of your report.
All sources used should be acknowledged and referenced throughout. You can accompany your writing with necessary diagrams, graphs or tables of gathered data.
The data and information presented should be analysed. The type of analysis will depend on your subject. For example, business reports may use SWOT or PESTLE analytical frameworks. A lab report may require to analyse and interpret the data originated from an experiment you performed in light of current theories.
A good report has a clear and accurately organised structure, divided in headings and sub-headings. The paragraphs are the fundamental unit of reports. (See boxes below.)
The language of reports is formal, clear, succinct, and to the point. (See box below.)
The language of reports should be:
Formal – avoid contractions and colloquial expressions.
Direct – avoid jargon and complicated sentences. Explain any technical terms.
Precise – avoid vague language e.g. 'almost' and avoid generalisations e.g. 'many people'
Concise – avoid repetition and redundant phrases. Examples of redundant phrases:
- contributing factor = factor
- general consensus = consensus
- smooth to the touch = smooth
Paragraphs, and namely strong paragraphs, are an essential device to keep your writing organised and logical.
A paragraph is a group of sentences that are linked coherently around one central topic/idea. Paragraphs should be the building blocks of academic writing. Each paragraph should be doing a job, moving the argument forward and guiding your reading through your thought process.
Paragraphs should be 10-12 lines long, but variations are acceptable. Do not write one-sentence long paragraphs; this is journalistic style, not academic.
You need to write so-called strong paragraphs wherein you present a topic, discuss it and conclude it, as afar as reasonably possible. Strong paragraphs may not always be feasible, especially in introductions and conclusions, but should be the staple of the body of your written work.
Topic sentence : Introduces the topic and states what your paragraph will be about
Development : Expand on the point you are making: explain, analyse, support with examples and/or evidence.
Concluding sentence : Summarise how your evidence backs up your point. You can also introduce what will come next.
This is a strategy to write strong paragraphs. In each paragraph you should include the following:
P oint : what do you want to talk about?
E vidence : show me!
E valuation : tell me!
L ink : what's coming next?
Example of a strong paragraph, with PEEL technique:
Paragraphs may be linked to each other through "paragraph bridges". One simple way of doing this is by repeating a word or phrase.
Check the tabs of this guide for more information on writing business reports and scientific reports.
Generally, a report will include some of the following sections: Title Page, Terms of Reference, Summary, Table of Contents, Introduction, Methods, Results, Main body, Conclusion, Recommendations, Appendices, and Bibliography. This structure may vary according to the type of report you are writing, which will be based on your department or subject field requirements. Therefore, it is always best to check your departmental guidelines or module/assignment instructions first.
You should follow any guidelines specified by your module handbook or assignment brief in case these differ, however usually the title page will include the title of the report, your number, student ID and module details.
Terms of Reference
You may be asked to include this section to give clear, but brief, explanations for the reasons and purpose of the report, which may also include who the intended audience is and how the methods for the report were undertaken.
It is often best to write this last as it is harder to summarise a piece of work that you have not written yet. An executive summary is a shorter replica of the entire report. Its length should be about 10% of the length of the report,
Contents (Table of Contents)
Please follow any specific style or formatting requirements specified by the module handbook or assignment brief. The contents page contains a list of the different chapters or headings and sub-headings along with the page number so that each section can be easily located within the report. Keep in mind that whatever numbering system you decide to use for your headings, they need to remain clear and consistent throughout.
This is where you set the scene for your report. The introduction should clearly articulate the purpose and aim (and, possibly, objectives) of the report, along with providing the background context for the report's topic and area of research. A scientific report may have an hypothesis in addition or in stead of aims and objectives. It may also provide any definitions or explanations for the terms used in the report or theoretical underpinnings of the research so that the reader has a clear understanding of what the research is based upon. It may be useful to also indicate any limitations to the scope of the report and identify the parameters of the research.
The methods section includes any information on the methods, tools and equipment used to get the data and evidence for your report. You should justify your method (that is, explain why your method was chosen), acknowledge possible problems encountered during the research, and present the limitations of your methodology.
If you are required to have a separate results and discussion section, then the results section should only include a summary of the findings, rather than an analysis of them - leave the critical analysis of the results for the discussion section. Presenting your results may take the form of graphs, tables, or any necessary diagrams of the gathered data. It is best to present your results in a logical order, making them as clear and understandable as possible through concise titles, brief summaries of the findings, and what the diagrams/charts/graphs or tables are showing to the reader.
This section is where the data gathered and your results are truly put to work. It is the main body of your report in which you should critically analyse what the results mean in relation to the aims and objectives (and/or, in scientific writing, hypotheses) put forth at the beginning of the report. You should follow a logical order, and can structure this section in sub-headings.
The conclusion should not include any new material but instead show a summary of your main arguments and findings. It is a chance to remind the reader of the key points within your report, the significance of the findings and the most central issues or arguments raised from the research. The conclusion may also include recommendations for further research, or how the present research may be carried out more effectively in future.
You can have a separate section on recommendations, presenting the action you recommend be taken, drawing from the conclusion. These actions should be concrete and specific.
The appendices may include all the supporting evidence and material used for your research, such as interview transcripts, surveys, questionnaires, tables, graphs, or other charts and images that you may not wish to include in the main body of the report, but may be referred to throughout your discussion or results sections.
Similar to your essays, a report still requires a bibliography of all the published resources you have referenced within your report. Check your module handbook for the referencing style you should use as there are different styles depending on your degree. If it is the standard Westminster Harvard Referencing style, then follow these guidelines and remember to be consistent.
You can format your document using the outline and table of contents functions in Word
- Next: Scientific Reports >>
- Last Updated: Jan 19, 2023 10:14 AM
- URL: https://libguides.westminster.ac.uk/report-writing
CONNECT WITH US
- PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
- EDIT Edit this Article
- EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
- Browse Articles
- Learn Something New
- Quizzes Hot
- This Or That Game New
- Train Your Brain
- Explore More
- Support wikiHow
- About wikiHow
- Log in / Sign up
- Education and Communications
- Official Writing
- Report Writing
How to Write a Report
Last Updated: August 25, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Amy Bobinger . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 8,630,112 times.
When you’re assigned to write a report, it can seem like an intimidating process. Fortunately, if you pay close attention to the report prompt, choose a subject you like, and give yourself plenty of time to research your topic, you might actually find that it’s not so bad. After you gather your research and organize it into an outline, all that’s left is to write out your paragraphs and proofread your paper before you hand it in!
Selecting Your Topic
- The guidelines will also typically tell you the requirements for the structure and format of your report.
- If you have any questions about the assignment, speak up as soon as possible. That way, you don’t start working on the report, only to find out you have to start over because you misunderstood the report prompt.
- For instance, if your report is supposed to be on a historical figure, you might choose someone you find really interesting, like the first woman to be governor of a state in the U.S., or the man who invented Silly Putty.
- If your report is about information technology , you could gather information about the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data or information.
- Even if you don’t have the option to choose your topic, you can often find something in your research that you find interesting. If your assignment is to give a report on the historical events of the 1960s in America, for example, you could focus your report on the way popular music reflected the events that occurred during that time.
Tip: Always get approval from your teacher or boss on the topic you choose before you start working on the report!
- If you’re not sure what to write about at first, pick a larger topic, then narrow it down as you start researching.
- For instance, if you wanted to do your report on World Fairs, then you realize that there are way too many of them to talk about, you might choose one specific world fair, such as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, to focus on.
- However, you wouldn’t necessarily want to narrow it down to something too specific, like “Food at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” since it could be hard to find sources on the subject without just listing a lot of recipes.
Researching the Report
- If you don’t have guidelines on how many sources to use, try to find 1-2 reputable sources for each page of the report.
- Sources can be divided into primary sources, like original written works, court records, and interviews, and secondary sources, like reference books and reviews.
- Databases, abstracts, and indexes are considered tertiary sources, and can be used to help you find primary and secondary sources for your report.  X Research source
- If you’re writing a business report , you may be given some supplementary materials, such as market research or sales reports, or you may need to compile this information yourself.  X Research source
- Librarians are an excellent resource when you're working on a report. They can help you find books, articles, and other credible sources.
- Often, a teacher will limit how many online sources you can use. If you find most of the information you need in the library, you can then use your online sources for details that you couldn’t find anywhere else.
Tip: Writing a report can take longer than you think! Don't put off your research until the last minute , or it will be obvious that you didn't put much effort into the assignment.
- Examples of authoritative online sources include government websites, articles written by known experts, and publications in peer-reviewed journals that have been published online.
- If you’re using a book as one of your sources, check the very back few pages. That’s often where an author will list the sources they used for their book.
- Remember to number each page of your notes, so you don’t get confused later about what information came from which source!
- Remember, you’ll need to cite any information that you use in your report; however, exactly how you do this will depend on the format that was assigned to you.
- For most reports, your thesis statement should not contain your own opinions. However, if you're writing a persuasive report, the thesis should contain an argument that you will have to prove in the body of the essay.
- An example of a straightforward report thesis (Thesis 1) would be: “The three main halls of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.”
- A thesis for a persuasive report (Thesis 2) might say: “The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was intended as a celebration of the Progressive spirit, but actually harbored a deep racism and principle of white supremacy that most visitors chose to ignore or celebrate.”
- The purpose of an outline is to help you to visualize how your essay will look. You can create a straightforward list or make a concept map , depending on what makes the most sense to you.
- Try to organize the information from your notes so it flows together logically. For instance, it can be helpful to try to group together related items, like important events from a person’s childhood, education, and career, if you’re writing a biographical report.
- Example main ideas for Thesis 1: Exhibits at the Court of the Universe, Exhibits at the Court of the Four Seasons, Exhibits at the Court of Abundance.
Tip: It can help to create your outline on a computer in case you change your mind as you’re moving information around.
Writing the First Draft
- Try to follow any formatting instructions to the letter. If there aren't any, opt for something classic, like 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font, double-spaced lines, and 1 in (2.5 cm) margins all around.
- You'll usually need to include a bibliography at the end of the report that lists any sources you used. You may also need a title page , which should include the title of the report, your name, the date, and the person who requested the report.
- For some types of reports, you may also need to include a table of contents and an abstract or summary that briefly sums up what you’ve written. It’s typically easier to write these after you’ve finished your first draft.  X Research source
- Example Intro for Thesis 1: “The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915 was intended to celebrate both the creation of the Panama Canal, and the technological advancements achieved at the turn of the century. The three main halls of the PPIE were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.”
- Typically, you should present the most important or compelling information first.
- Example topic sentence for Thesis 1: At the PPIE, the Court of the Universe was the heart of the exposition and represented the greatest achievements of man, as well as the meeting of the East and the West.
Tip: Assume that your reader knows little to nothing about the subject. Support your facts with plenty of details and include definitions if you use technical terms or jargon in the paper.
- Paraphrasing means restating the original author's ideas in your own words. On the other hand, a direct quote means using the exact words from the original source in quotation marks, with the author cited.
- For the topic sentence listed above about the Court of the Universe, the body paragraph should go on to list the different exhibits found at the exhibit, as well as proving how the Court represented the meeting of the East and West.
- Use your sources to support your topic, but don't plagiarize . Always restate the information in your own words. In most cases, you'll get in serious trouble if you just copy from your sources word-for-word. Also, be sure to cite each source as you use it, according to the formatting guidelines you were given.  X Research source
- Your commentary needs to be at least 1-2 sentences long. For a longer report, you may write more sentences for each piece of commentary.
- Avoid presenting any new information in the conclusion. You don’t want this to be a “Gotcha!” moment. Instead, it should be a strong summary of everything you’ve already told the reader.
Revising Your Report
- A good question to ask yourself is, “If I were someone reading this report for the first time, would I feel like I understood the topic after I finished reading?
Tip: If you have time before the deadline, set the report aside for a few days . Then, come back and read it again. This can help you catch errors you might otherwise have missed.
- Try reading the report to yourself out loud. Hearing the words can help you catch awkward language or run-on sentences you might not catch by reading it silently.
- This is a great trick to find spelling errors or grammatical mistakes that your eye would otherwise just scan over.
- Ask your helper questions like, “Do you understand what I am saying in my report?” “Is there anything you think I should take out or add?” And “Is there anything you would change?”
- If you have any questions about the assignment requirements, ask your instructor. It's important to know how they'll be grading your assignment.
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reports/writing-up
- ↑ https://emory.libanswers.com/faq/44525
- ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-7-sources-choosing-the-right-ones/
- ↑ https://libguides.merrimack.edu/research_help/Sources
- ↑ https://www.victoria.ac.nz/vbs/teaching/resources/VBS-Report-Writing-Guide-2017.pdf
- ↑ https://www.library.illinois.edu/hpnl/tutorials/primary-sources/
- ↑ https://libguides.scu.edu.au/harvard/secondary-sources
- ↑ https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/taking-notes-while-reading/
- ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement.html
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/outline
- ↑ https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/engl250oer/chapter/10-4-table-of-contents/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
- ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/report-writing-format
- ↑ https://www.monash.edu/rlo/assignment-samples/assignment-types/writing-an-essay/writing-body-paragraphs
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/5-most-effective-methods-for-avoiding-plagiarism/
- ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/using-evidence.html
- ↑ https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/writing-report
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
- ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/grammarpunct/proofreading/
- ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-12-peer-review-and-final-revisions/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
About This Article
It can seem really hard to write a report, but it will be easier if you choose an original topic that you're passionate about. Once you've got your topic, do some research on it at the library and online, using reputable sources like encyclopedias, scholarly journals, and government websites. Use your research write a thesis statement that sums up the focus of your paper, then organize your notes into an outline that supports that thesis statement. Finally, expand that outline into paragraph form. Read on for tips from our Education co-author on how to format your report! Did this summary help you? Yes No
- Send fan mail to authors
Reader Success Stories
Mar 10, 2018
Did this article help you?
Nov 27, 2018
Apr 16, 2017
Sep 17, 2017
- Do Not Sell or Share My Info
- Not Selling Info
wikiHow Tech Help Pro:
Develop the tech skills you need for work and life
- Steps in Report Writing: Report Writing Format
Report writing is a formal style of writing elaborately on a topic. The tone of a report and report writing format is always formal. The important section to focus on is the target audience. For example – report writing about a school event, report writing about a business case, etc.
All your facts and information presented in the report not only have to be bias-free, but they also have to be a 100% correct. Proof-reading and fact-checking is always what you do as a thumb rule before submitting a report.
One needs to write reports with much analysis. The purpose of report writing is essential to inform the reader about a topic, minus one’s opinion on the topic.
It’s simply a portrayal of facts, as it is. Even if one gives inferences , solid analysis, charts, tables and data is provided. Mostly, it is specified by the person who’s asked for the report whether they would like your take or not if that is the case.
In many cases, you need to be clear about your own suggestions too for a specific case after a factual report. That depends on why are you writing the report and who you are writing it for in the first place. Knowing your audience’s motive for asking for that report is very important as it sets the course of the facts focused in your report .
These different kinds of reports are also covered in our previous chapter in reports writing. We recommend you to read our chapter on kinds of reports before diving into the report format. Now that we have some idea about report-writing, let’s get straight into our report writing format.
Report Writing Format
Following are the parts of a report format that is most common..
- Executive summary – highlights of the main report
- Table of Contents – index page
- Introduction – origin, essentials of the main subject
- Body – main report
- Conclusion – inferences, measures taken, projections
- Reference – sources of information
Let us understand each one of them in detail.
You summarize the main points of the report, such as the report topic, the data obtained, the data analysis methods, and recommendations based on the data. The summary could be as short as a paragraph or as long as five pages, depending on the length of the full report.
Usually, the recipient of the report doesn’t always have the time to read through the entire report. This summary gives the reader a gist of the important points.
Remember that although attached as the first page, this summary is always putting a perspective for the entire report, meaning that effort-wise, the writer always needs to include it at the end.
Most importantly, the summary should contain:
- the purpose of the report
- what you did (analysis) and what you found (results)
- your recommendations; these recommendations should be short and not go beyond a page
Table of Contents
The report should begin with a table of contents. This explains the audience, author, and basic purpose of the attached report. It should be short and to the point.
This section is the beginning of your report. It highlights the major topics that are covered and provides background information on why the data in the report was collected. It also contains a top view of what’s covered in the report.
The body of the report describes the problem, the data that was collected, sometimes in the form of table or charts , and discusses with reasons. The body is usually broken into subsections, with subheadings that highlight the further breakdown of a point. Report writing format is very specific that way about clear and crisp headings and subheadings.
This just structures out readers clarity in understanding and further enhances the logical flow that can get hard to follow. Since a report has no personal bias or opinions, you can imagine that reading through a report can be a bit boring and people may find it hard to follow through. In such a case, it’s always best to create pointers and lay out the points in short and simple methods .
Note: Tables and figures must all be labeled
At the end of our main body lies the tying of ends together in the much-awaited conclusion . The conclusion explains how the data described in the body of the document may be interpreted or what conclusions may be drawn. The conclusion often suggests how to use the data to improve some aspect of the business or recommends additional research.
This solution then may be implemented to solve a given problem the report was made for in the first place. Big consultancies or service providers prepare reports in the form of Microsoft Powerpoint or the Keynote in Mac to present to the stakeholders. At the end of which lies the conclusive suggestion section.
If you used other sources of information to help write your report, such as a government database, you would include that in the references . The references section lists the resources used to research or collect the data for the report. References provide proof for your points. Also, this provides solid reasoning for the readers so that they can review the original data sources themselves. Also, credit must be given where credit is due.
Lastly, comes the appendix. Although this one is not necessary, more like an optional element. This may include additional technical information that is not necessary to the explanation provided in the body and conclusion but further supports the findings, such as tables or charts or pictures, or additional research not cited in the body but relevant to the discussion. Note: Tables and figures must all be labelled.
In case you want to closely look at report writing format example or take a look at the report writing sample, our next chapter will have a clear example of the same. Stay tuned.
- Tips and Conventions with Sample Reports
- Kinds of Reports
- Introduction and Essential Elements of Report Writing
Which class are you in?
Download the App