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.
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.
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.
- 1 Choose a topic based on the assignment. Before you start writing, you need to pick the topic of your report. …
- 2 Conduct research. …
- 3 Write a thesis statement. …
- 4 Prepare an outline. …
- 5 Write a rough draft. …
- 6 Revise and edit your report. …
- 7 Proofread and check for mistakes.
How to Write an Information Report | EasyTeaching
How to write a report
Knowing how to write a successful report can make you a valuable asset in your current workplace or an appealing candidate for new employers. Here are some steps to follow when writing a report:
1. Decide on terms of reference
Many formal reports include a section that details the documents “terms of reference”. These terms include:
Setting these terms helps both the writer and their readers to understand why the report is important and what it hopes to accomplish. The terms of reference are usually explained in the first paragraph so that the reader can determine their relevance without having to read the entire document. Setting concrete terms early on will help you create the reports outline and keep your discussions on track throughout the writing process.
2. Conduct your research
Most reports will require you to collect a store of data that directly relates to your topic. You may already have access to this information if, for example, you are a doctor who has copies of a patients medical charts. However, if you are tasked with analyzing an issue or investigating an event, you will likely need to spend some time requesting, finding and organizing data.
Interpreting data and formatting it in a way that your readers will understand is an important part of writing a report. You may need to create charts, graphs or timelines that make your raw information easier to comprehend. You will also need to carefully cite your sources and keep track of where and how you found your data to present it professionally.
3. Write an outline
The next step is to construct your reports outline. This typically looks like a bulleted or numbered list of all the different sections in the document. Your reports outline might look similar to this:
The order of these sections—and whether you decide to include them all—depends on the specific type of report, how long it is and how formal it needs to be. The most important thing to do when writing your outline is to include all the necessary sections and eliminate anything that does not directly contribute to the reports purpose.
4. Write the first draft
Writing the first draft is one of the most important stages of constructing a successful report. The purpose of the first draft is not to write a perfect document, but rather to get all the main elements of your information out of your head and onto the page. You will have time to add to and edit this first attempt, so your primary goal is just to organize your data and analysis into a rough draft that will eventually become a final product.
While writing your first draft, you will likely find gaps in your data or holes in your analysis. Make note of these, but do not try to address every issue as you write. Instead, finish the draft, and save the problem-solving for when you begin the editing process.
5. Analyze data and record findings
The focus of every report is the “findings” section or the part where you present your interpretation of the data. For an accountant, the findings could involve an explanation as to why a companys stock drooped during the previous quarter. For an environmental scientist, it could include a summary of an experiment on biodegradable plastics and how the results could affect waste management methods.
The findings section of your report should always provide valuable information related to the topic or issue you are addressing, even if the results are less than ideal. If you conclude that the data was insufficient or the research method was flawed, you will need to explain this professionally and accurately.
6. Recommend a course of action
The final section of your reports body is your recommendation. After examining the data and analyzing any outcomes, you are qualified to present an idea as to what actions should be taken in response to your findings. For example, after reviewing the number of overtime hours that their team has been working, a project manager may recommend that an additional employee be added to the team. A surgeon might recommend that the hospital introduce new sterilization methods into the operating room after noting an increase in preventable infections in the previous six months.
If you have presented your data well and shown your expertise, your reader is likely to trust your judgment.
7. Edit and distribute
The final stage of writing a report is editing it thoroughly and distributing it to your audience. You will need to edit for grammar mistakes, spelling errors and typing mistakes. You will also need to double-check your data, make sure your citations are correct and read over the entire document to make sure it presents a cohesive narrative. If the report is going to be read by a wide audience, you may decide to ask someone else to proofread it or give you their opinion on the readability of the content.
Distributing the report can take different forms depending on your particular occupation. You might email it to your supervisor, present it verbally during a staff meeting or publish it in a professional journal. Regardless of how or where it is read, your goal is always to create a concise, informative and effective document that will contribute to increased productivity in your workplace.
What is a report?
A report is a document that presents the results of an investigation, project or initiative. It can also be an in-depth analysis of a particular issue or data set. The purpose of a report is to inform, educate and present options and recommendations for future action. Reports are an integral element of dozens of industries, including science, health care, criminal justice, business and academia. Reports typically consist of several key elements, including:
Many occupations involve writing reports as a primary responsibility. Doctors must write medical reports that present their analyses of certain patients or cases. Police officers write reports that outline the details of interrogations and confrontations. Project managers write regular reports that keep their supervisors updated on how a particular project is developing. All of these reports must be well-written, accurate and efficient.
Tips for writing successful reports
Here are some final suggestions to guide you when writing reports:
How do you write a report give examples?
What are the 5 steps in report writing?
What is report example?
- 5 Step Guide to Report Writing.
- Read the brief/terms of reference carefully. The brief should tell you: …
- Plan each section. …
- Relate findings to background research. …
- Put yourself in the position of the reader. …
- Edit ruthlessly and proofread.