Report writing is not always easy as this academic task involves an in-depth analysis of some issue, with recommendations for further action or proposals to remedy the situation. When thinking about how to write a report, you should always prioritize your target audience as they are the primary stakeholders. To sound persuasive, ensure that you use clear and concise language, cite accurate facts, and use a local, easy-to-follow format. In this guide, we present detailed information on how to write a report type assignment to help you hone this writing skill.
Types of reports
First, you need to note that not all reports are created equal. Thus, depending on your report type, you’ll need to follow different structures and requirements. To date, the most common types of reports are:
- project reports,
- reports on scientific research/investigation or descriptive,
- informational reports.
We understand that you may have many questions at this stage already. How to write a case report? How to write a project report?
When you focus on some cases or projects, you should describe their background and context, delineate your report’s focus, and outline the key facts of interest. When thinking about writing a scientific report, you might be interested in analyzing the researchers’ objective of the study, target population, methods they used, and their key findings. Thinking over how to write a research report? The answer is simple – follow the same structure as with a scientific report.
Now, coming to the report structure, we should note that reports typically have a rigid structure to adhere to, though the structure may vary slightly depending on the report type. Most frequently, the structure of your report would look as follows:
|Executive Summary (Abstract)||This section summarizes the essential findings and facts, outlining the author’s recommendations and conclusions.|
|Table of Contents||It makes the report navigable and gives the complete picture to the readers.|
|Terms of Reference||It introduces the report’s object and clarifies its purpose. Besides, the person or organization authorizing the investigation for this report should also be mentioned here.|
|Procedure section||Your methodology shows how you approached the topic, where and how you collected data, and what methods you applied to data collection and analysis.|
|Findings||This is the most critical part of the report containing significant findings of your research or investigation.|
|Conclusions||Don’t consider any net material here, as the conclusion should only interpret what you’ve found.|
|Recommendations||This section finalizes your report by showing the practical value of your investigation.|
|References||This section comes at the end and includes all external sources you referred to in the text.|
|Appendices||This is optional. But it is recommended to move all tables, figures, and other massive visuals to the Appendices to improve the report’s readability.|
With these major components of a report in mind, please don’t forget that the ultimate structure depends on the report’s type and size (you can either unify the sections to save space or break them down into sub-parts if you need to conduct a more detailed investigation). Always consult your tutor or supervisor for details if you’re unsure about the structure of the report you’ve been assigned to.
Why does structure matter?
How to write a report-type assignment? – First of all, adhere to the structure. Otherwise, work has all chances of getting an unsatisfactory grade. Outline, creating clear headings and subheadings. After finishing, try to take them out of context and evaluate how complete they look separately. Titles should fully express the essence of the section without the main body.
Formal style is compulsory
Since reports are most commonly used in technical or scientific material presentations, the choice of proper writing style usually affects the quality of the overall report. Interested in how to write a good report? Follow these style tips from our pros:
- Stick to the formal yet not sophisticated language. Reports need to communicate information effectively. So, you’ll achieve the aim if you keep sentences short and simple, without too much detail. When you check the final report, think carefully about whether all sections contribute to its general purpose. If something looks redundant or repetitive, don’t hesitate to delete it.
- Avoid passive voice. Passive voice constructions suit specific contexts, but in most cases, they make the doer fuzzy and ambiguous. That’s not what we need in a report, as the latter should clearly state who is responsible for particular events or actions. So, strive to present data directly and concisely.
- Double-check your text. Even if you use grammar checking software, make sure to go through the text manually as computers can’t capture all errors. It’s ideal to give yourself a pause before checking the text; a good night’s sleep will help you take a fresh look at the report and find all minor textual issues.
- Avoid emotionally charged judgments. Be impartial and even question your position at times. Here you can safely assert only proven facts. In this case, be sure to add data that will strengthen your argument.
How to write text succinctly?
First of all, filter all the incoming information and select the most important one. After writing the report, re-read it several times, preferably aloud. You will notice which sentences are too complex. It is enough for you to cross out superfluous words which do not carry semantic loading.
Let’s consider how to reduce the number of words in a sentence in practice.
We recommend that you draw up a report from correct clear sentences that convey the essence of your thoughts and do not need additional explanation. (26 words)
We recommend drawing up a report from clear sentences conveying the essence of thoughts. (14 words)
Draw up a report from clear sentences conveying the sense. (10 words)
Pay attention to the words in bold in the first sentence. They are redundant. Agree the third sentence keeps the meaning and is easier to read.
Let’s try to shorten the following piece of text.
Long version. Digital transformation is one of the main strategic goals of any business. It is a time-consuming and costly process that many call the philosophy of business behavior. It requires first-rate software supporting IoT, AI, Cloud, and 5G technology. The well-known 5G coverage makes a particular impact on the speed of work. It is arduous to implement, and not every local telco service provider can afford it. Does this mean that small companies in the telecommunications domain will never reach the ultimate transformation goal? (83 words)
Short version. Digital transformation is a laborious and costly process performed by enterprises. For success, they apply IoT, AI, Cloud, and 5G technology. The last one directly impacts service provision speed. Anyway, it’s not available for every local telecom operator. Does it mean those small telco companies will never reach the transformation goal? (51 words)
As you can see, the shortening of the text does not damage its meaning. Many copywriters even teach students this art specifically.
Whatever report you’re writing, there’s always a need to conduct a double-check at the end. It would be best to follow all assignment requirements correctly and that your structure and content are up to the standard.
Here is a simple yet comprehensive checklist to use for report evaluation:
- Did you consider your target audience when composing the report?
- Did you cover all main points related to the subject, adding substantial evidence from credible sources to support those points?
- Have you made the purpose and focus clear for the readers?
- Are all sections relevant to the primary purpose?
- Does the report flow well?
- Do all figures fit the report’s content and support the key points?
- Can any parts be removed without losing the overall sense of the content?
- Did you use clear, understandable language?
- What tone and style did you use? Is it consistent with the image of the target audience?
- Did you double-check the text’s mechanics?
- Did you make relevant conclusions and recommendations?
Why are references needed?
They are an obligatory part of the report. But during formation, students tend to make the most mistakes. In any work, the author’s opinion is core. But it cannot be called strong without the appropriate base. Research results, various scientific materials, or articles from authoritative publications can boost your arguments. So, feel free to back up your ideas with facts and opinions. Let’s take a look at how to use references in the right way.
Where to get sources?
Think about where you can find supporting information after receiving the report’s topic. Make your list of sources (books, magazines, online seminars, etc.) that will help you do your paper. You can also take advantage of the tutor’s recommended reading list. So, be sure to get familiar with it.
What makes reference list creation easier?
Working with information sources, you will find something useful. We suggest you write down the quotes along with the source details. The latter include a title, the name of an author, the year of publication, etc. As a result, you will get a list of quotes and coordinates from where you borrowed them. It will facilitate the penultimate report’s section design.
Don’t be limited by academic materials. Pay attention to different reputable sources of information (videos, reports, interviews). Using them enriches your paper. The principle of working with them is identical to the above one. You should write down the source details in advance so as not to lose them.
Practical tips on reference usage
Outline. Compare the structure of your report with the list of quotes you have put together. Analyze them. How would you combine them into one harmonious text? Write your vision for each section in general terms. Define accents. Think about what exactly it is worth strengthening your answers.
Always check. After writing a report, you should check if each reference corresponds to its piece of text. You may have lost something. Then create the reference list in alphabetical order and arrange it according to the tutor’s requirements
Logically, evenly and correctly. Writing a report, you should gradually introduce references there. Also, make sure that this tool performs its function flawlessly. And now about the design. Using the author’s name, you must write the date after it in brackets.
In case you are writing about the ideas of other authors, write their names and dates in brackets at the end of the idea description.
Think about a bibliography as soon as you start writing a paper. Otherwise, its formation will be time-consuming.
Let’s take a look at a few examples
|Outlining other authors’ opinions, you should write the following way:||K. Abbasi (2020) said that true democracy positively impacts citizens’ health.|
|Describing someone’s idea, you should write like this:||Mental and physical health decline provoked by COVID-19 affects researchers. (W. L. Filho, 2020)|
|If you want to compare the opposite authors’ opinions or focus on their similarities, write like the following:||Descartes’s (1641) views in “Meditations on First Philosophy” are so similar to Kant’s (1781) described in “Critique of Pure Reason.”|
|If you want to combine your idea with the idea of other authors, you should pay attention to the following example:||It seems that today a person can keep a work-life balance effortlessly. Meanwhile, Muammar al-Qaddafi (1975) explained that employees, no matter how great their earnings, are the same slaves.|
|If you want to show some situation or opinion as an example, look right:||KMart’s fail (Forbes, 2002) has shown how principal accurate budgeting is for software development.|
|But what if you decide to use a copyrighted image? In this case, number all objects, describe them in a nutshell, indicate the year. Below you must write the creator’s name, year, brief description, link to the source, and access date.||Pic.1 Veil Nebula by NASA (2021)NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (2021), downloaded from https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/index.html Accessed|