Unlike an essay that sets out and defends a writer’s view about a topic and doesn’t have to feature headings, the report discusses a topic in a structured, easy-to-follow format and should be divided into sections, headings, and subheadings.
Reports can be academic, technical or business-related, and feature recommendations for specific actions.
Reports can also be written to present facts about a situation, project or process and define and analyze the issue at hand.
Reports often relay observation to a specific audience in a clear and concise style.
1. Identify Your Audience.
Before you start writing, identify the audience. Your report should be written and tailored to the reader’s needs and expectations. When planning, ask yourself several questions to better understand the goal of the report. Some questions to consider include:
- Who is the reader?
- What is the purpose of the report and why is it needed?
- What important information has to be in the report?
2. Organize Your Information.
Once you identify the audience of your report, you can begin to collect your information and put it together in an outline.
To keep your report organized and easy to understand, you should follow this format of organization.
The Title Section.
If the report is short, the front cover can include any information that you feel is necessary including the author(s) and the date prepared. In a longer report, you may want to include a table of contents and a definition of terms.
The summary consists of the major points, conclusions, and recommendations. It needs to be short as it is a general overview of the report. Some people will read the summary and only skim the report, so make sure you include all of the relevant information. It would be best to write this when the report is finished so you will include everything, even points that might be added at the last minute.
The first page of the report needs to have an introduction. Here you will explain the problem and inform the reader why the report is being made. You need to give a definition of terms if you didn’t include these in the title section and explain how the details of the report are arranged.
This is the main section of the report which can include technical terms. These should be several sections; each clearly labeled with a subtitle. Information in a report is usually arranged in order of importance with the most important information coming first.
This is where everything comes together. Keep this section free of jargon as many people will just read the summary and conclusion.
This is where you discuss any actions that need to be taken. In plain English, explain your recommendations, putting them in order of priority.
This includes information that the experts in the field will read. It has all the technical details that support your conclusions.
3. Format Your Report.
You should use a simple format and a concise style to present your report to be easy-to-read and navigate. Readers want to be able to look through a report and get to the information they need as quickly as possible. Use the following simple format and style throughout your report so that it will make it easy-to-read and look organized and presentable.
Use just one font in your report. The easy-to-read and the best for reports is Arial or Times New Roman.
Use lists whenever possible to break information into easy-to-understand points. Lists can either be numbered or bulleted.
Headings and Subheadings.
You can use headings and subheadings throughout your report to identify the various topics and break the text into manageable chunks. These will help keep the report organized and can be listed in the table of contents so they can be found quickly.
Final Tips on Report Writing.
- Keep it simple.
- Don’t try to impress, rather try to communicate.
- Keep sentences short and to the point.
- Don’t go into a lot of details unless it is needed.
- Make sure every word needs to be there, that it contributes to the purpose of the report.
- Use an active voice as it makes the writing move smoothly and easily.
- Good grammar and punctuation are very important.
- Read the report aloud and have someone proofread it for you.
You can also download:
It’s a valuable guide including useful methods and techniques of effective note-taking for university students. Download It Now for FREE.