Module 6: Reports
Body sections of a report, learning outcomes.
- Describe various sections that may be used in the body of a report
The body of a report is what comes to mind when most people think of a report; it’s the primary content. In this page, we will discuss several sections that are frequently used in formal reports:
- Purpose (or problem statement)
- Research (or methods)
- Recommendation (or solution)
- Overview of alternative options
- Methods of operation
This list may look intimidating, so it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a Table of Contents for every formal report. Remember, as the writer, you should use what best suits the material’s and organization’s requirements. There may be additional sections needed in unique cases.
An introduction sets up the structure of a report. Essentially, the introduction tells the reader what is to come and in what order, and it reminds the reader of the key criteria that instigated the report’s creation. This section is key to the reader following and retaining key points of the report.
Introductions are used in both informational and analytical reports. In an informational report, this helps segment the data that follows. In an analytical report, the introduction helps the reader come to the conclusion the author expects. An introduction is used in all informal reports as well. In an informal report, there may or may not be a separate header with this label, but an introduction must always be present.
Depending upon readers’ expected reception of the content, the introduction may foreshadow the conclusion. With receptive audiences, the outcome is clear in the introduction. With less receptive audiences, it is important to present all the facts and research prior to declaring a conclusion; thus, for less respective audiences, it may be better to foreshadow the conclusion than to fully declare it. This allows the reader to end up at the same conclusion as the author as details develop.
The introduction may also include the problem statement or purpose of the report. However, in longer reports, these may end up either in the background or as their own sections.
The background section of a report explains the circumstances that led to the report’s creation. In some situations, this section may be labeled as criteria or constraints , or the topic may be briefly addressed in the transmittal letter or introduction. This section can appear in both informational and analytical reports.
The background provides a baseline of the current situation and any potential constrictions such as budget, time, human resources, etc. This section explains why the investigation or work was completed. It may introduce how the information is thorough, even if 100 percent certainty is not possible.
Purpose or Problem Statement
As mentioned, the purpose or problem statement section may be part of the background, or it can stand separately, depending upon the complexity of the report. The purpose or problem statement should be worded like this example:
The purpose of this report is to address [the problem or question that the requester needs addressed]. This report will accomplish this by investigating [whatever you researched or developed for the report].
While the example shows the proper phrasing for an analytical report, it could be reworded to fit an informational report: for example, “details from three solutions are listed.”
Research or Methods
The research section (also sometimes called methods ) is where authors establish their credibility as they show how their perspective is supported by outside experts.This section provides background on where data used in the report was found: it is not a section where data is listed .
By telling your audience how you came to know what you have found out, you are demonstrating to them that your results are trustworthy and that they truly hold significance. With strong methods for finding out your facts, your readers will feel comfortable and confident in making the changes your report recommends. Your data will appear later in the evaluation, so that the data is in the same place as the reader is learning about its meaning. Additionally, the data can be presented in full in the appendix .
Completing and sharing research comes with a set of legal issues. Pay special attention Module 4: Research and follow the guidelines and rules you learn there. You’ll always need to provide credit, or citation, for the information you gather from others. Lack of appropriate citation or attribution can cause legal and credibility problems.
Recommendation or Solution
This section may stand on its own, or it may have several subsections depending upon the complexity of the report. Additionally, depending upon the receptivity of the audience to your solution, this section may come earlier or later in the report. In some reports the recommendation is used in lieu of the conclusion . This section is found only in analytical reports.
In this section, you will report your recommendations, beginning with your first choice. Explain why you prioritized each choice by elaborating on different facets the solution’s feasibility: economical, structural, and operational. Emphasize the solution’s benefits. Remember you can suggest that you do not recommend a particular alternative solution. However, you need to explain why you do not recommend the solution, according to the economical, structural, and operational feasibility.
Overview of Alternative Options
In this section, you must underline the key features of each possible option. Make sure they are easy to understand and presented in a friendly layout. Keep in mind that the goal is to allow your audience to make the best decision. This section is typically used in informational reports, where no recommendation is made.
This should be the bulk of your report; you must evaluate the options using the criteria you created. Add graphs, charts, etc. to show that you have studied your options, and have come up with statistics that back up your reasons why your alternative beats the competition. If your audience is likely to be resistant to your recommendation, the evaluation should appear before you make the recommendation. This section is found only in analytical reports.
This section should state the end results of your research and detail how you got there: how you evaluated the alternatives and, from there, you would decided which alternative best fit your organization.
This section explains the benefits of the solution. There is little reason why your proposal should be accepted if there are not meaningful benefits. Thus, be sure to show that your solution will result in substantial benefits for the organization, company, etc. Some may think to omit this section when the report was requested; however, it is always helpful to have comprehensive listing of why something is being proposed and to document all the items the solution addresses.
This section is found in analytical reports, especially in proposals. In informational reports, this section may provide a detailed “how-to” not associated with some type of comparison.
This section may stand alone or be part of the benefits section . A qualifications section is a good place to explain the talent and experience of yourself and your team members. Depending on your readers, this section may be small or large. As with all business documents, you need to be honest when you write your qualifications.
This section may stand alone or be part of the benefits section. In some cases, the resumes of the proposed team for the project are requested or provided. In those situations, this section is found as part of the back matter . A project’s success depends on its management team, and readers are impressed if you can describe your project management structure in your proposal. By identifying each person on your team and explaining what their tasks and responsibilities are, you can coordinate your work efficiently. It is very helpful for each person to know what they will be doing beforehand so there won’t be many problems concerning leadership and time management further into the project.
This section details when, why, and how the solution will be used for the first time. The implementation period is usually a trial period to see if the solution is feasible as planned. Thus, you will pick a time that does not impact the normal operation of existing programs, patterns of operation, etc. In addition, you will describe the location of implementation, who will be involved, costs of implementation, what is expected to happen, the date and time of implementation, the duration of implementation, etc. You should also explain why you chose this time for implementing the solution. State that during this time you will note what works and what needs to be changed.
This section is found in analytical reports, especially in proposals. In informational reports, this may provide a detailed “how-to” not associated with some type of comparison.
A schedule section may be found separately if the product or project is complex. In other instances, it is combined with the implementation section. In some situations, the schedule is part of the back matter and exists more as a list or table of dates and accomplishments.
Schedules help provide readers with three things:
- Schedules give readers a deadline, so they know when to expect a final result.
- Schedules can be critiqued by readers to make sure they are feasible.
- Schedules are a good way to keep track of how a project is proceeding.
In addition to project deadlines, schedules should also include due dates for drafts, resources, and other information that is needed to assist you with your project goal.
Methods of Operation
This section describes how the solution will fit into and be used as a functional part of the day-to-day operation of the company, business, etc. Detail the date you expect to launch the solution into the operation of the company, the place from where the solution will operate, how it will operate, and who will be involved (identify their responsibilities, duties, and any titles, certifications, degrees, etc.).
This section tells how much the solution will cost in dollar amounts. This section is gene rally presented after all the explanation of implementation, benefits, etc. That way the reader is fully appreciative of what the costs cover. It is expected that numbers presented are accurate to the penny, unless otherwise specified by whatever margin of error is appropriate to the situation. In informal reports and some formal reports, this section is part of the body (or evaluation) detail. For some formal reports, there is extensive line by line detail of parts, services, and/or supplies. When this is the case, the costs section may be part of the appendices and will only be referenced from the body.
Numbers in costs are generally presented using tables, tabs, or spreadsheet inserts to align decimal points directly above one another. Text aligns left and numbers align right as in the following table. If all numbers end with zero cents as in $24.00, omit the decimal and following zeros. Ensure any column of information has a heading. Most software offers attractive templates to set apart information and data. The best advice is to use the simplest formatting. These tables should work to aid the reader in understanding and retention, rather than distracting the reader with colors and shapes.
This section is found in analytical reports, especially in proposals. In informational reports, this will be used when the purpose of the reports was to research costs of some item.
The conclusion , as the header says, finishes the body of the report: it provides a summary of the major ideas of the report. While not as long as an executive summary , it may have a similar feel in order to provide a comprehensive reminder of the key components of either an analytical or informational report. The closing of a report should never introduce a fact or idea not presented earlier in the report.
In sales or persuasive reports, include in your conclusion how you’re going to go implement your ideas for the company and how it will enrich the company; explain why the company should choose your course of action. Compare statistics and data and help the readers understand the logical choice and the course of action that would aid in selecting one option over the other. Refer back to your expertise on the subject matter and help them realize that your idea is the choice they are looking for. Based on your experiences, they will most likely take your side if you present the argument efficiently.
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How To Write A Report Introduction: An Academic Guide
By Laura Brown on 27th July 2023
You are definitely here to learn how to write an introduction to a report. So let’s answer it directly!
Well, an effective introduction of a report should succinctly introduce the topic, state the purpose and scope of the report, and provide a brief overview of the key points to be discussed . A report introduction should capture the reader’s interest and set the tone for the rest of the document.
This could be the summary of what should be included in a report introduction and how you can write it. But this summary is not enough to understand completely how you are going to start your report.
Since you are here, you must have got an academic report to tackle. Well, let’s start by talking about something that’s often overlooked but absolutely crucial – the introduction! Trust us, nailing the introduction can make a world of difference to your entire report.
Your report introduction is like the friendly handshake you offer to your readers. It sets the tone, gives an overview of what’s to come, and entices them to stick around for the good stuff. A well-crafted intro not only impresses your readers but also shows off your writing chops and analytical skills.
So, let’s dive into the world of introductions and make your reports shine right from the very start! Get ready to captivate your audience and make your mark in the educational realm. Let’s go!
1. First, Understand The Purpose Of Your Report
To embark on successful academic writing , it’s crucial to grasp the essence of your report’s purpose. Reports come in various types, including essays, research papers, case studies, and many more! Each type requires a tailored approach to crafting a report introduction that captivates your readers.
Once you have identified the type of report you have got to prepare, the second most important thing is to understand why you have been given this report. What is the purpose, and what could be the possible outcome of completing this report.
2. Analyse The Target Audience
Audience engagement is a critical aspect of your report! Let’s shine a spotlight on your readers, who are the real heroes, and explore the art of tailoring your report introduction to captivate them.
It is really essential to consider the readers’ background and knowledge. Are they seasoned professors, fellow students, or professionals in a specific field? Understanding their perspectives helps you strike the perfect balance of technicality and simplicity in your introduction.
Crafting an introduction that speaks directly to your audience is the key. Inject enthusiasm, sprinkle relatable examples, and address their pain points . Use audience-savvy techniques, ensuring your introduction resonates with readers and leaves them eager to explore your entire report.
So, let’s dive in and charm your audience with an introduction they won’t forget! Let’s get started with how to write a report introduction!
3. Elements of a Strong Introduction
Before we head directly into how to start a report introduction, we need to understand some basic elements of the introduction of a report. A well-crafted introduction not only piques the interest of the readers but also sets the tone for the entire document. To achieve this, it should incorporate the following essential elements:
• Opening Hook or Attention-Grabber
The first few sentences of your introduction should captivate the reader’s attention and compel them to delve further into your report. An opening hook can take various forms, such as a thought-provoking question, a compelling statistic, a vivid anecdote, or a relevant and surprising fact.
• Contextualising the Report’s Topic
Following the attention-grabber, it is essential to provide the necessary context for your report’s topic. This contextualisation allows readers to grasp the background, relevance, and significance of the subject under investigation. Incorporate relevant historical, theoretical, or practical information to situate the report within its broader academic or real-world context.
• Thesis Statement or Main Objective
The thesis statement, often positioned at the end of the opening paragraph of the report introduction, concisely articulates the main objective or central argument of your report. It should be clear, specific, and focused, guiding readers on what they can expect to explore further in the document. A strong thesis statement sets the direction for the entire report, providing a roadmap for readers to navigate the subsequent sections with a clear understanding of the primary purpose.
• Overview of Report Structure and Sections
To facilitate navigation and comprehension, it is crucial to provide readers with an overview of the report’s structure and its key sections. This section-by-section outline acts as a guide, giving readers a glimpse of the organisation and flow of the report.
By skillfully incorporating these elements, your introduction will establish a strong groundwork for your report, fostering engagement and understanding throughout its entirety. Now we can move on with your actual question, how to write an introduction for an academic report! After reading this guide, if you still find anything difficult, you can always contact our report writing service for 24/7 assistance.
4. Crafting the Opening Hook
The art of crafting an engaging opening hook lies in its ability to seize the reader’s attention from the outset. Anecdotes and real-life examples breathe life into the report , making complex topics relatable and captivating for your readers. As you go on to illustrate the practical implications of the subject matter, your readers can immediately connect with the content. It will allow you to foster a sense of curiosity to explore further.
In addition to anecdotes, you should incorporate relevant statistics or data. It infuses credibility and significance into the introduction. Numbers possess a persuasive power, shedding light on the magnitude of an issue and underscoring the urgency of the report’s focus. Thought-provoking questions, on the other hand, spark introspection and stimulate critical thinking. Coupled with compelling quotes, they entice readers to contemplate the broader implications of the subject matter.
An effective opening hook in the report introduction, whether through anecdotes, statistics, or questions, sets the stage for an intellectually stimulating journey through the report’s core ideas. By capturing your reader’s imagination, the introduction paves the way for a rewarding exploration of the report’s findings and insights.
Since, students often search for how to write an introduction for a report example, here is one for you. The opening of the introduction could be like this:
In the age of digital interconnectedness, social media platforms have revolutionised the way we communicate, share information, and interact with others. The allure of virtual networks, however, comes hand in hand with growing concerns about their impact on mental health. As these platforms become an integral part of our daily lives, it is crucial to examine the intricate relationship between social media usage and its potential consequences on individuals’ psychological well-being, a pressing issue that forms the focal point of this academic report.
5. Providing Context for the Report
A well-contextualised introduction is paramount to the comprehension of the matter of the report. You should first delve into the background and history of the topic to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of its evolution over time. This historical perspective lays the groundwork for appreciating the report’s relevance in the present context.
Moreover, describing the current relevance and significance of the topic bridges the gap between theory and practice. It highlights the practical implications and real-world applications, enticing readers to explore further. In addition to how to write a report introduction, it is essential to address the previous research or related studies to showcase the existing body of knowledge and identify gaps that the current report aims to fill.
By combining historical context, present-day relevance, and existing research, the introduction forges a clear pathway for readers to navigate through the report’s findings, enriching their understanding and appreciation of the subject matter.
Let’s have a look at an example from the sample report introduction:
The exponential rise of social media has transformed the dynamics of social interactions, communication, and information dissemination, transcending geographical boundaries. With billions of users actively engaging on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, the implications on mental health have garnered significant attention from researchers, health professionals, and society at large. This report endeavours to delve into the multifaceted impacts of social media on mental health, analysing its effects on emotional well-being, self-esteem, and psychological distress.
6. Formulating a Clear Thesis Statement
As we go on to learn how to write an introduction of a report, we should know about the thesis statement. A strong thesis statement is like the backbone of your whole work. It’s the core purpose and focus of what you are doing. When you define the main objective and scope in your thesis, it gives your readers a sneak peek into what you are trying to achieve.
To make it effective, keep the thesis concise and specific. Avoid any vagueness or ambiguity . This will help sharpen the direction of the report and guide your readers to understand the main argument better.
When your thesis aligns with the objectives of your report, everything flows more smoothly. It acts as a navigational tool, guiding you and your readers through all the details and helping everyone grasp the subject matter better. So, get ready to make your report shine with a killer thesis statement!
Let’s have an example of a thesis statement from the introduction of a report:
This report aims to explore the complexities of the relationship between social media usage and mental health, considering both positive and negative aspects. By synthesising existing research, psychological theories, and empirical evidence, we seek to shed light on the various mechanisms through which social media can influence mental health outcomes. Ultimately, this examination underscores the importance of promoting digital well-being and fostering responsible social media use for individuals of all ages.
7. Outlining the Report Structure
An effectively outlined report structure serves as a roadmap for readers. It gives readers a clear and organised overview of what’s inside. First off, listing the major sections or points give them a quick glimpse of how it’s all laid out.
And here’s the trick: a brief description of each section helps readers know what to expect. That way, they can read with focus and easily find what they need later.
When you highlight the logical progression of the report, it keeps everything flowing smoothly. Each section builds upon the previous ones, creating a cohesive narrative. This way, readers can get a comprehensive understanding of the topic.
Putting it all together, a well-structured report becomes a valuable guide for your readers. It leads them through all the details and ensures a rewarding and informed reading experience.
Do’s & Don’ts of How to Make a Report Introduction
Concluding on how to write a good introduction for a report.
A strong introduction forms the backbone of your report, as it plays a pivotal role in engaging readers and guiding their journey through the study’s contents. By recapitulating the significance of a well-crafted introduction, we underscore how it captivates readers from the outset, fostering their interest and curiosity.
The introduction sets the tone for the entire report, shaping readers’ perceptions and expectations. As this guide highlights the key elements for creating an effective introduction and how to start writing a report introduction, we encourage students to apply these principles to their own reports. By doing so, they can elevate the impact of their work, leaving a lasting impression on their readers.
We hope that this guide will help you through the introduction process. You can further go on to read how to write a conclusion for a report , so that you can create an excellent report for you.
Laura Brown, a senior content writer who writes actionable blogs at Crowd Writer.
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Structure of reports Report sections and what goes in them
Reports are a common academic genre at university. Although the exact nature will vary according to the discipline you are studying, the general structure is broadly similar for all disciplines. The typical structure of a report, as shown on this page, is often referred to as IMRAD, which is short for Introduction, Method , Results And Discussion . As reports often begin with an Abstract , the structure may also be referred to as AIMRAD.
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There are several parts which go at the beginning of the report, before the main content. These are the title page , abstract and contents page .
Your report should have a title page. Information which could be included on this page are:
- the title of the report
- the name(s) of the author(s)
- your student number(s)
- name of the lecturer the report is for
- date of submission
Many longer reports will contain an abstract. This is like a summary of the whole report, and should contain details on the key areas, in other words the purpose, the methodology, the main findings and the conclusions. An abstract is not usually needed for shorter reports such as science lab reports.
Many reports will contain a contents page. This should list all the headings and sub-headings in the report, together with the page numbers. Most word processing software can build a table of contents automatically.
The first section of your report will be the introduction. This will often contain several sub-sections, as outlined below.
There should be some background information on the topic area. This could be in the form of a literature review. It is likely that this section will contain material from other sources, in which case appropriate citations will be needed. You will also need to summarise or paraphrase any information which comes from your text books or other sources.
Many reports, especially science reports, will contain essential theory, such as equations which will be used later. You may need to give definitions of key terms and classify information. As with the background section, correct in-text citations will be needed for any information which comes from your text books or other sources.
This part of the report explains why you are writing the report. The tense you use will depend on whether the subject of the sentence is the report (which still exists) or the experiment (which has finished). See the language for reports section for more information.
Also called Methodology or Procedure, this section outlines how you gathered information, where from and how much. For example, if you used a survey:
- how was the survey carried out?
- how did you decide on the target group?
- how many people were surveyed?
- were they surveyed by interview or questionnaire?
If it is a science lab report, you will need to answer these questions:
- what apparatus was used?
- how did you conduct the experiment?
- how many times did you repeat the procedure?
- what precautions did you take to increase accuracy?
This section, also called Findings, gives the data that has been collected (for example from the survey or experiment). This section will often present data in tables and charts. This section is primarily concerned with description. In other words, it does not analyse or draw conclusions.
The Discussion section, also called Analysis, is the main body of the report, where you develop your ideas. It draws together the background information or theory from the Introduction with the data from the Findings section . Sub-sections (with sub-headings) may be needed to ensure the readers can find information quickly. Although the sub-headings help to clarify, you should still use well constructed paragraphs, with clear topic sentences . This section will often include graphs or other visual material, as this will help the readers to understand the main points. This section should fulfil the aims in the introduction, and should contain sufficient information to justify the conclusions and recommendations which come later in the report.
The conclusions come from the analysis in the Discussion section and should be clear and concise. The conclusions should relate directly to the aims of the report, and state whether these have been fulfilled. At this stage in the report, no new information should be included.
The report should conclude with recommendations. These should be specific. As with the conclusion, the recommendations should derive from the main body of the report and again, no new information should be included.
Any sources cited in the text should be included in full in the reference section. For more information, see the reference section page of the writing section.
Appendices are used to provide any detailed information which your readers may need for reference, but which do not contain key information and which you therefore do not want to include in the body of the report. Examples are a questionnaire used in a survey or a letter of consent for interview participants. Appendices must be relevant and should be numbered so they can be referred to in the main body. They should be labelled Appendix 1, Appendix 2, etc. ('appendices' is the plural form of 'appendix').
The diagram below summarises the sections of a report outlined above.
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There is a downloadable checklist for reports (structure and language ) in the writing resources section.
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Read the previous article about writing reports .
Author: Sheldon Smith ‖ Last modified: 22 January 2022.
Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .
Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.
Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).
Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.
Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).
Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.
Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.
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What is the Background of a Study and How Should it be Written?
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The background of a study is one of the most important components of a research paper. The quality of the background determines whether the reader will be interested in the rest of the study. Thus, to ensure that the audience is invested in reading the entire research paper, it is important to write an appealing and effective background. So, what constitutes the background of a study, and how must it be written?
What is the background of a study?
The background of a study is the first section of the paper and establishes the context underlying the research. It contains the rationale, the key problem statement, and a brief overview of research questions that are addressed in the rest of the paper. The background forms the crux of the study because it introduces an unaware audience to the research and its importance in a clear and logical manner. At times, the background may even explore whether the study builds on or refutes findings from previous studies. Any relevant information that the readers need to know before delving into the paper should be made available to them in the background.
How is a background different from the introduction?
The introduction of your research paper is presented before the background. Let’s find out what factors differentiate the background from the introduction.
- The introduction only contains preliminary data about the research topic and does not state the purpose of the study. On the contrary, the background clarifies the importance of the study in detail.
- The introduction provides an overview of the research topic from a broader perspective, while the background provides a detailed understanding of the topic.
- The introduction should end with the mention of the research questions, aims, and objectives of the study. In contrast, the background follows no such format and only provides essential context to the study.
How should one write the background of a research paper?
The length and detail presented in the background varies for different research papers, depending on the complexity and novelty of the research topic. At times, a simple background suffices, even if the study is complex. Before writing and adding details in the background, take a note of these additional points:
- Start with a strong beginning: Begin the background by defining the research topic and then identify the target audience.
- Cover key components: Explain all theories, concepts, terms, and ideas that may feel unfamiliar to the target audience thoroughly.
- Take note of important prerequisites: Go through the relevant literature in detail. Take notes while reading and cite the sources.
- Maintain a balance: Make sure that the background is focused on important details, but also appeals to a broader audience.
- Include historical data: Current issues largely originate from historical events or findings. If the research borrows information from a historical context, add relevant data in the background.
- Explain novelty: If the research study or methodology is unique or novel, provide an explanation that helps to understand the research better.
- Increase engagement: To make the background engaging, build a story around the central theme of the research
Avoid these mistakes while writing the background:
- Ambiguity: Don’t be ambiguous. While writing, assume that the reader does not understand any intricate detail about your research.
- Unrelated themes: Steer clear from topics that are not related to the key aspects of your research topic.
- Poor organization: Do not place information without a structure. Make sure that the background reads in a chronological manner and organize the sub-sections so that it flows well.
Writing the background for a research paper should not be a daunting task. But directions to go about it can always help. At Elsevier Author Services we provide essential insights on how to write a high quality, appealing, and logically structured paper for publication, beginning with a robust background. For further queries, contact our experts now!
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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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