How to Write a Report: A Guide
A report is a nonfiction account that presents and/or summarizes the facts about a particular event, topic, or issue. The idea is that people who are unfamiliar with the subject can find everything they need to know from a good report.
Reports make it easy to catch someone up to speed on a subject, but actually writing a report is anything but easy. So to help you understand what to do, below we present a little report of our own, all about report writing.
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What is a report?
In technical terms, the definition of a report is pretty vague: any account, spoken or written, of the matters concerning a particular topic. This could refer to anything from a courtroom testimony to a grade schooler’s book report .
Really, when people talk about “reports,” they’re usually referring to official documents outlining the facts of a topic, typically written by an expert on the subject or someone assigned to investigate it. There are different types of reports, explained in the next section, but they mostly fit this description.
What kind of information is shared in reports? Although all facts are welcome, reports, in particular, tend to feature these types of content:
- Details of an event or situation
- The consequences or ongoing effect of an event or situation
- Evaluation of statistical data or analytics
- Interpretations from the information in the report
- Predictions or recommendations based on the information in the report
- How the information relates to other events or reports
Reports are closely related to essay writing , although there are some clear distinctions. While both rely on facts, essays add the personal opinions and arguments of the authors. Reports typically stick only to the facts, although they may include some of the author’s interpretation of these facts, most likely in the conclusion.
Moreover, reports are heavily organized, commonly with tables of contents and copious headings and subheadings. This makes it easier for readers to scan reports for the information they’re looking for. Essays, on the other hand, are meant to be read start to finish, not browsed for specific insights.
Types of reports
There are a few different types of reports, depending on the purpose and to whom you present your report. Here’s a quick list of the common types of reports:
- Academic report: Tests a student’s comprehension of the subject matter, such as book reports, reports on historical events, and biographies
- Business reports: Identifies information useful in business strategy, such as marketing reports, internal memos, SWOT analysis, and feasibility reports
- Scientific reports: Shares research findings, such as research papers and case studies, typically in science journals
Reports can be further divided into categories based on how they are written. For example, a report could be formal or informal, short or long, and internal or external. In business, a vertical report shares information with people on different levels of the hierarchy (i.e., people who work above you and below you), while a lateral report is for people on the author’s same level, but in different departments.
There are as many types of reports as there are writing styles, but in this guide, we focus on academic reports, which tend to be formal and informational.
>>Read More: What Is Academic Writing?
What is the structure of a report?
The structure of a report depends on the type of report and the requirements of the assignment. While reports can use their own unique structure, most follow this basic template:
- Executive summary: Just like an abstract in an academic paper, an executive summary is a standalone section that summarizes the findings in your report so readers know what to expect. These are mostly for official reports and less so for school reports.
- Introduction: Setting up the body of the report, your introduction explains the overall topic that you’re about to discuss, with your thesis statement and any need-to-know background information before you get into your own findings.
- Body: The body of the report explains all your major discoveries, broken up into headings and subheadings. The body makes up the majority of the entire report; whereas the introduction and conclusion are just a few paragraphs each, the body can go on for pages.
- Conclusion: The conclusion is where you bring together all the information in your report and come to a definitive interpretation or judgment. This is usually where the author inputs their own personal opinions or inferences.
If you’re familiar with how to write a research paper , you’ll notice that report writing follows the same introduction-body-conclusion structure, sometimes adding an executive summary. Reports usually have their own additional requirements as well, such as title pages and tables of content, which we explain in the next section.
What should be included in a report?
There are no firm requirements for what’s included in a report. Every school, company, laboratory, task manager, and teacher can make their own format, depending on their unique needs. In general, though, be on the lookout for these particular requirements—they tend to crop up a lot:
- Title page: Official reports often use a title page to keep things organized; if a person has to read multiple reports, title pages make them easier to keep track of.
- Table of contents: Just like in books, the table of contents helps readers go directly to the section they’re interested in, allowing for faster browsing.
- Page numbering: A common courtesy if you’re writing a longer report, page numbering makes sure the pages are in order in the case of mix-ups or misprints.
- Headings and subheadings: Reports are typically broken up into sections, divided by headings and subheadings, to facilitate browsing and scanning.
- Citations: If you’re citing information from another source, the citations guidelines tell you the recommended format.
- Works cited page: A bibliography at the end of the report lists credits and the legal information for the other sources you got information from.
As always, refer to the assignment for the specific guidelines on each of these. The people who read the report should tell you which style guides or formatting they require.
How to write a report in 7 steps
Now let’s get into the specifics of how to write a report. Follow the seven steps on report writing below to take you from an idea to a completed paper.
1 Choose a topic based on the assignment
Before you start writing, you need to pick the topic of your report. Often, the topic is assigned for you, as with most business reports, or predetermined by the nature of your work, as with scientific reports. If that’s the case, you can ignore this step and move on.
If you’re in charge of choosing your own topic, as with a lot of academic reports, then this is one of the most important steps in the whole writing process. Try to pick a topic that fits these two criteria:
- There’s adequate information: Choose a topic that’s not too general but not too specific, with enough information to fill your report without padding, but not too much that you can’t cover everything.
- It’s something you’re interested in: Although this isn’t a strict requirement, it does help the quality of a report if you’re engaged by the subject matter.
Of course, don’t forget the instructions of the assignment, including length, so keep those in the back of your head when deciding.
2 Conduct research
With business and scientific reports, the research is usually your own or provided by the company—although there’s still plenty of digging for external sources in both.
For academic papers, you’re largely on your own for research, unless you’re required to use class materials. That’s one of the reasons why choosing the right topic is so crucial; you won’t go far if the topic you picked doesn’t have enough available research.
The key is to search only for reputable sources: official documents, other reports, research papers, case studies, books from respected authors, etc. Feel free to use research cited in other similar reports. You can often find a lot of information online through search engines, but a quick trip to the library can also help in a pinch.
3 Write a thesis statement
Before you go any further, write a thesis statement to help you conceptualize the main theme of your report. Just like the topic sentence of a paragraph, the thesis statement summarizes the main point of your writing, in this case, the report.
Once you’ve collected enough research, you should notice some trends and patterns in the information. If these patterns all infer or lead up to a bigger, overarching point, that’s your thesis statement.
For example, if you were writing a report on the wages of fast-food employees, your thesis might be something like, “Although wages used to be commensurate with living expenses, after years of stagnation they are no longer adequate.” From there, the rest of your report will elaborate on that thesis, with ample evidence and supporting arguments.
It’s good to include your thesis statement in both the executive summary and introduction of your report, but you still want to figure it out early so you know which direction to go when you work on your outline next.
4 Prepare an outline
Writing an outline is recommended for all kinds of writing, but it’s especially useful for reports given their emphasis on organization. Because reports are often separated by headings and subheadings, a solid outline makes sure you stay on track while writing without missing anything.
Really, you should start thinking about your outline during the research phase, when you start to notice patterns and trends. If you’re stuck, try making a list of all the key points, details, and evidence you want to mention. See if you can fit them into general and specific categories, which you can turn into headings and subheadings respectively.
5 Write a rough draft
Actually writing the rough draft , or first draft, is usually the most time-consuming step. Here’s where you take all the information from your research and put it into words. To avoid getting overwhelmed, simply follow your outline step by step to make sure you don’t accidentally leave out anything.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; that’s the number one rule for writing a rough draft. Expecting your first draft to be perfect adds a lot of pressure. Instead, write in a natural and relaxed way, and worry about the specific details like word choice and correcting mistakes later. That’s what the last two steps are for, anyway.
6 Revise and edit your report
Once your rough draft is finished, it’s time to go back and start fixing the mistakes you ignored the first time around. (Before you dive right back in, though, it helps to sleep on it to start editing fresh, or at least take a small break to unwind from writing the rough draft.)
We recommend first rereading your report for any major issues, such as cutting or moving around entire sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes you’ll find your data doesn’t line up, or that you misinterpreted a key piece of evidence. This is the right time to fix the “big picture” mistakes and rewrite any longer sections as needed.
If you’re unfamiliar with what to look for when editing, you can read our previous guide with some more advanced self-editing tips .
7 Proofread and check for mistakes
Last, it pays to go over your report one final time, just to optimize your wording and check for grammatical or spelling mistakes. In the previous step you checked for “big picture” mistakes, but here you’re looking for specific, even nitpicky problems.
A writing assistant like Grammarly flags those issues for you. Grammarly’s free version points out any spelling and grammatical mistakes while you write, with suggestions to improve your writing that you can apply with just one click. The Premium version offers even more advanced features, such as tone adjustments and word choice recommendations for taking your writing to the next level.
10 Tips for Perfect Report Writing
Report writing is an essential skill for many jobs and educational courses. This page shows you correct report writing formats, and gives you 10 top tips to help you write a report.
Report Writing – An Introduction
You might have to write a report at university (an academic report) or as part of your job (a business or technical report).
There are also different reasons for report writing: to present information (such as a lab report or financial report); to present research findings; or to analyse a problem and then recommend a particular action or strategy.
A report can be long or short, formal or informal. The style and vocabulary choice will depend on who is going to read your report, and their level of understanding or expertise.
Reports should be clear and concise, with the information presented logically in sections, with headings and (if necessary) sub-headings.
Report Writing Formats
Reports don’t always follow the same formats or include all the possible, different sections. If you’re unsure about the correct report writing format to use, check with your tutor (at university) or find out the preferred layout that your company uses.
In it you’ll address a particular situation (saying why it’s worthy of research and referencing other studies on the subject); describe your research methods and evaluate the results of your research; then finally make conclusions or recommendations.
What are the report sections?
Title page – the title of your report, your name, the date, academic information (your course and tutor’s name).
Acknowledgements – if you’ve received help (ie from experts, academics, libraries).
Terms of reference (optional) This gives the scope and limitations of your report – your objective in writing and who it’s for.
Summary / Abstract – in brief, the most important points of your report: your objectives (if you don’t include a terms of reference section), main findings, conclusions and recommendations.
Table of Contents All the sections and sub-sections of your report with page references, plus a list of diagrams or illustrations and appendices.
Introduction Why you’re researching the topic, the background and goals of your research, your research methods, plus your conclusion in brief.
Methods / Methodology / Procedure (optional – if not included in the introduction) How you carried out your research, techniques, equipment or procedures you used.
Main body / Discussion (the longest part of your report) Contains an analysis and interpretation of your findings (often linked to current theory or previous research) divided into headings and sub-headings for clarity. You can also include visual information, such as diagrams, illustrations, charts, etc.
Results (can also go before the main body of the report) The findings of your research (also presented in tables, etc) but without any discussion or interpretation of them.
Conclusion What you can say about the results – your deductions, and the most important findings from your research.
Recommendations (can also be part of the conclusion section) Number these if you have more than one.
Appendices Extra information which is too long for the main body of your report, such as tables, questionnaires, etc.
References All the sources you refer to in your report.
Bibliography (optional) Books, journals, etc which you read or used during your research.
Glossary (optional) Technical or jargon words which your reader might not understand.
Or you might just need to write a shorter, information-type report.
Title page The report title, your name, the date, the name of the person commissioning the report, the objective of the report.
Management / Executive Summary You can give this to people instead of the whole report. It’s often less than one page and contains the main information – the summary, conclusions and recommendations.
Table of Contents For longer reports, including sections and page references.
Introduction The background of the report, what is included, methods and procedures for getting the information, acknowledgements of help.
Main Body / Discussion This is the longest part of your report, including all the details organised into headings and sub-headings. For example, a description of the current situation / problems.
Summary and Conclusions (can also go before the main body) Summarise the reason for your report, and your conclusions, such as the potential solutions to a problem.
Recommendations (can also go before the main body) Identify your preferred course of action. Number your recommendations if you have more than one.
Appendices Any extra information, such as illustrations, questionnaires used in preparing the report, or a bibliography.
For shorter reports, or information-type reports (such as financial reports or sales reports) the report sections may be:
Title Introduction Main Body / Discussion Recommendations (optional)
10 Report Writing Tips
These report writing tips will save you time and make sure that what you write is relevant. There are five writing tips followed by five language tips.
1. Write your executive summary and table of contents at the end
This means that the section headings and page numbers will be consistent. The executive summary is much easier to write if you have already written the rest.
2. Focus on the objective
Make sure you understand the purpose of your report and who you’re writing it for. If you’re writing a report as part of your university course, read the brief carefully and refer back to it so that everything you write and include is relevant.
If you’re writing a business report, write an objective statement first. This helps you decide what’s going to be relevant and important for the reader. You can use the objective as the title of the report, or put it in the introduction. For example:
[su_quote]To identify new market segments and analyse the competition[/su_quote] [su_quote]To evaluate current HR policies and present new recruitment methods[/su_quote] [su_quote]To examine our R&D strategy and suggest new product development ideas[/su_quote]
3. Plan before you start writing
Gather all your research and relevant information. You might need to interview people, do some background reading or carry out experiments.
Decide on a structure for your report. How are you going to organise the information you have into sections? How can you divide these sections into headings and sub-headings?
Plan your structure by writing all your points on a piece of paper, then grouping these ideas into sections and headings. Alternatively, try a “mind map”. Write a subject word in a box, and then write ideas around this subject word, drawing lines to connect them to the subject word. Doing this can help you see where information is related and where it can be grouped.
Make sure you keep a note of all your references so you can write the references section afterwards. As you plan out the structure of your report, think about how it’s linked to the objective of your report. What conclusions or recommendations can you make? Is there anything unusual that you might need to explain?
4. Use a clear layout
Make your report look more readable and inviting. Here are some ways to help you do this:
Use headings and sub-headings to break up the text. Remember to number these consistently. Here are two alternatives:
Section 1 Sub-section 1(a), 1(b) Sub-sub-section 1 (a) (i), 1 (a) (ii); 1 (b) (i), 1 (b), (ii) Or: Section 1 Sub-section 1.1, 1.2 Sub-sub-section 1.1.1, 1.1.2; 1.2.1, 1.2.2
Include adequate spacing and margins to make the text look less dense
Write well-structured paragraphs. Paragraphs shouldn’t be more than five sentences long. For example, your first sentence is the topic sentence – the main idea of the paragraph. The second to fourth sentences expand on this idea, giving supporting or additional information, commenting on the points raised, or referring to other data. The final sentence concludes the ideas presented, or leads on to the following paragraph.
5. Edit and proof read!
Here’s a check list of what you should ask yourself before submitting your report:
– Is it free of grammatical mistakes, concise and easy to read? – Do the sections follow on logically from each other? – Is each point supported with evidence or data? – Are the conclusions and recommendations persuasive? – Are all the sources correctly referenced?
And finally – have you kept to the report objective or brief?
Report Writing – Language Tips
Aim to write clearly and concisely. Here are five ways to help you do this:
6. Keep sentences short and simple
Include only one main idea in each sentence, with extra information in following sentences, introduced by a appropriate linking word (see below). Avoid writing long sentences with lots of sub-clauses which will make it difficult for your reader to follow you. Aim for sentences which are no longer than 15-20 words.
7. Use linking words
Words and phrases like “Therefore”, “However”, “For this reason”, etc help your reader follow your ideas. For a complete list of linking words (and examples of their use) check out our page on linking words .
8. Use everyday English
Explain jargon or technical language (if you’re writing for a non-technical audience) and include these terms in a glossary.
9. Avoid passive forms where possible
Scientific and technical reports often include passive forms instead of subject pronouns like “I” and “you”, but for business reports you can write more simply and directly.
To make your business report sound more objective, you can use the “third person”. For example, “This report outlines the advantages and disadvantages of company pension schemes.” Other verbs you can use in the “third person” are:
analyze (analyse BrE) “This section analyzes the differences between the two markets.”
describe “This report describes the procedures commonly used in assessing insurance claims.”
discuss “This report discusses the implications of the new building regulations.”
examine “This report examines the impact of natural disasters on our production facilities.”
explain “This section explains the decisions to suspend investment in Europe.”
identify “This report identifies the advantages and disadvantages of relocating our head office.”
illustrate “This report illustrates the main difficulties in opening new branches in Asia.”
outline “This section outlines our R&D priorities.”
review “This report reviews our franchising operations.”
summarize (summarise BrE) “This report summarizes the main points raised at the Shareholders Meeting.”
10. Keep an eye on punctuation
Correct punctuation helps your reader move more easily through your report. If you’re not sure on when to use commas or semi-colons (for example), check out our punctuation guide .
For more help with writing skills, take a look at Business Writing Essentials: How to Write Letters, Reports and Emails .
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The goal of writing a report is to offer as accurately as possible the full sense of the original book or research , but in a more
condensed form. When writing a report remember that it should be accurate, objective, concise and clear.
You must remember the following:
- 4 paragraphs minimum (1 introduction, 2 body paragraphs and 1 conclusion)
- Each paragraph must have a heading (explaining what it is about)
- You must address the report to someone
- You must have a heading for the report: a subject (a title that clearly describes what the report is about)
- Adding a date to the report is not mandatory
- You must use formal language (so no contracted forms or slang)
Useful Expressions to use when writing a report in English
Subject: A report on: ……………………………………………….
Introduction: The objectives of this report are to ……………………………………………………..
(Subject of paragraph 1) Title: …………………………………………………….
Paragraph 1: (findings and methodology) The method / procedure used was …..
(Subject of paragraph 2) Title: …………………………………………………….
(Paragraph 2): (findings and methodology)
The main findings were that ……………………………………………………………………………………….…
Conclusion or recommendation(s): The main conclusion that can be drawn is that ……………………………………………………….…………………………………………………………………………………….
I therefore recommend ……………………………………………………………………………………………………
Have any doubts or questions about writing a report? Please post them below! We look forward to hearing from you.
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- WRITING SKILLS
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How to Write a Report
- A - Z List of Writing Skills
The Essentials of Writing
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- The Importance of Structure
- Know Your Audience
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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
Look at the report and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
Do the preparation exercise first. Then read the text and do the other exercises.
Check your understanding: true or false
Check your writing: matching - useful language, check your writing: gap fill - making recommendations, worksheets and downloads.
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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 8,636,973 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
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16 Easy and Simple Tips To Write Your Report In English
On certain occasions, you might be required to submit a report as part of doing your coursework or your job. Hence, report writing is an essential skill for anyone who is working or even studying. Reports are used for presenting factual information and observations about a situation, process, or events to a particular audience. It may also be used to document projects completed, present research findings, or to define and analyze problems and recommend solutions or strategy. Reports are written with a definite purpose, ergo to meet its requirements and target, it has to be written in a report style writing. To write an easy to understand report while maintaining clarity and professionalism, here’s a guide you can use when writing it.
1. Write your report in the English language
English is an international business language, hence often the preferred language to be used when presenting formal writing. As reports are meant to be read by different people involved in a certain project, it must be written in a language where all its readers will understand it. English can serve as your bridge language to readers who speak in a different language to yours.
2. Use simple language
Since your report includes a lot of details, it should be written in a manner that is easy to understand. To achieve this, use plain English. Refrain from using jargon, or specialist words to allow readers with a little background about the subject understand it easily as well. If you opt to use industry or profession-specific words, explain it as you use them. Your vocabulary choice must be suitable for your audience, their expertise, and level of knowledge on the subject. Using hifalutin or highly technical words to impress will not make your report better but only more confusing. A well-written report intended to communicate better is more preferred and useful.
3. Strive for clarity
People agree with what is presented to them when they understand its points clearly. This also applies to report writing. To strive for clarity in your report, use precise terms, and avoid words that are vague and don’t give any exact details. Moreover, if you are going to use names, consistently use the same name throughout your report. Meanwhile, for special characters, define it the first time you use it. Also, you can avoid being ambiguous by ensuring that each word included in the report is relevant and contributes to the development of your main point.
4. Use formal language
Reports should be written in a formal language. It must not include flowery, colloquial, or slang terms. Fillers and unnecessary words must also be eliminated. Aim to express your writing in a professional sounding manner. Do this by using easy to understand formal words.
5. Avoid using emotive words
Reports are expected to be presented and interpreted objectively. Using emotive words to describe facts creates a personal tone in the text. Although it appeals to emotions, it may diminish the credibility of your report of being evidently sound. Also, using it is being discouraged as it can prevent an objective analysis on a subject. As it includes emotion in the report, it may be perceived that you are attempting to incite an emotional reaction from your target readers.
6. Refrain from using judgmental words
Another way to achieve an objective tone in your report is by avoiding the use of judgemental words. This kind of words reveals that you are making a personal judgment as you express your personal stand and opinions. Readers may perceive that instead of allowing evidence to be the support for your report, you base your conclusions on previously-held beliefs and values. To make your writing credibly sound and objective focus on presenting what the evidence suggests instead of referring to what you think and avoid judgemental language.
7. Stick to the facts
When writing a report always stick to facts and what the evidence tells you. Avoiding opinions and unsupported conclusions will make your report bias-free. Keep in mind the purpose of your report and target readers while writing it to determine the details you need to include in the report.
8. Write concisely
To improve readability, simplify your sentences. Avoid complex sentence structures and use short sentences instead. Some sentences are longer because they are too wordy. Also, some include redundant words, repetitive points, and multiple punctuations. Keep your sentence on point to avoid being wordy and lengthy. Omit anything unnecessary and make sure that it’s not exceedingly detailed nor has insufficient descriptions. If the sentences are longer than it should be, break it up and create multiple sentences out of it. Do this by limiting your sentences to a single idea per sentence.
9. Use linking words for coherence
Your report should be coherent and clearly shows the relationship between details. This can be made possible by using connectors, reference words, and signal words or phrases within and between your paragraphs. This will enable your reader to easily follow your points and see the connections of the details you included.
10. Use appropriate pronouns
There are differing opinions on whether to use personal pronouns or not in report writing. Some claim that not using personal pronouns will keep the objectivity of a report, while others suggest otherwise. To determine whether to use personal pronouns or not, it is best to consider your target readers. The type of report you are doing whether it is formal or semi-formal will also help you to figure out the appropriate pronoun to use. If you want to keep your report independent from your presence as a writer, avoid using first-person pronouns such as ‘I’, and ‘we’. Meanwhile, if you want to make your report impersonal and formal, refrain from using ‘you’. The pronoun ‘you’ directly addresses the reader, ergo makes the report sound more conversational and less formal.
11. Use correct tenses and be consistent
Follow the general rules when writing your report. Use past tense if you are writing the method and results section or anything that was done and happened in the past. Meanwhile, if it is a fact use the present tense. Also, for introduction, conclusion and summary use present tense. Make sure that you remain consistent with the tenses that you use throughout paragraphs.
12. Use the right voice of the verb
There are also different opinions on whether to use passive or active voice in report writing. To identify which one should you use, it is better to consider the purpose, content, readers, and level of formality you intend your report to sound. Also, determine the significant elements you wanted to be highlighted in your report. Passive voice is used when you want to emphasize events and processes. It is also utilized to show the effect of an action on a person or thing. This is good to use when the ‘doer’ is unknown, irrelevant on the report or it is already obvious thus not need to be mentioned. Another reason why some prefer to use this is because writing in the passive voice makes your report sound more formal. Meanwhile, others support the use of active voice because it is easier to understand. Plus active voice uses fewer words thus simpler to write. This is good to use if you want to emphasize the person or thing responsible for the action.
13. Use the right punctuation
Writing sentences with correct punctuation marks enhances the readability of your report. It guides your reader to understand your report better by giving them the right cues. Hence it is imperative not to forget including punctuation marks, neither making your sentences overly punctuated nor using punctuation interchangeably.
14. Avoid contractions
In report writing words in full form is preferred. Contractions made of combined two abbreviated words are avoided as it sounds conversational and less formal. If you need to use abbreviations, it is important to briefly explain it. Writing your words in full form enables your readers to understand the text clearly as it spelled in its original form.
15. Write numbers correctly
Part of writing reports is also including numbers to show results or estimates. It gives significant details and shows sequence, hence must be presented properly to be interpreted appropriately. When writing numbers, spell out one to nine. Hundred, thousand and million are also written in words. Meanwhile, if the number follows a unit of measurement, it should be written in numerals.
Even if you have carefully written your report, it is still best to edit and proofread your text to check if it’s easy to comprehend. Check any typographical errors, grammar lapses, and inconsistencies, punctuation errors, and omit redundant and unnecessary words. Also check if there are missing, or irrelevant details and whether its organization is illogical. By going through your work again, you will be able to see if there are any flaws in your work before it will be read by your target readers.
Regardless of your report’s length, the content will depend on what you are writing about and who you are writing it for. By following the guidelines above you’ll be able to follow the general standard in report style writing. It will help you to achieve a clear, concise, and easy to understand report.
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- 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
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