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How to write a report


Do you desire to know how to write a report? If yes, then it’s good to first define what a report is. A report is a document written to enhance clarity on a particular subject matter, and it is targeted at a particular set of people. Also, a report is used to reveal evidence and specific information; these details become analyzed and are engaged in bringing a solution to a particular challenge.

Details supplied in a report are presented according to a format and style, which includes headings and sections for easy accessibility of the details. Reports are usually accompanied by a set of dos and don’ts (structure). It states the challenges to be addressed, the aim of the research, and the targeted audience.

However, these documents are employed as a tool for assessment because it helps to know what students have grabbed during the process of their research work and to know the level of their skills and competence.

How do I structure a report?

The following are the basic guiding features of how to write a report, and it should be used in agreement with the laid down instructions from the department. Remember that formatting a report will enable the audience to get what they are looking for easily. Also, every segment should be in English; however, technical terms can be used in the body of the report.

Here are the basic sections in a standard report:

Title

In short reports, the front cover can also have information like the names of authors and the date, while the longer report will often carry the table of content. The title page could also contain the audience for which the report is meant and the definition of terms. 

Abstract (Summary)

This needs to be short and brief; it contains major points, conclusions, and recommendations of the document. The abstract should not contain more than half a page. Since it is the first thing accessed by the reader, it must give readers a clear overview of what the write-up entails. It is recommended that this section should be written after the completion of the write-up so that it can contain all the necessary findings in the body of the document.

Table of Content

The table of content contains different chapters and headings with the right page numbers. This helps the audience to quickly go through and find a particular area of interest, as outlined in the write-up. It is strongly advised that the system of numbering in the table of content is clear, simple, and consistent.

Introduction

This is the first page of the write-up. It is under the introduction that the aims and objectives of the work are explained, the challenges and limitations encountered are highlighted, the research method is described, and other necessary parameters are included. However, if terms have not been defined at the title page section, it can be done in the introduction section.

Methods

This is where equipment listing is done, the type of procedure used, the materials used for the research work with their sources, and how they are prepared. Also, the writer should refer to challenges encountered, and if there are changes to the procedures, it should be highlighted.

Results

It’s at this point that the outcome of the work is enumerated. It often comes with appropriate diagrams, tables, and graphs of data collected. All these are presented to support the outcome. The result should be without any form of comment or explanation. However, the results are enumerated in the discussion section.

In science reports, the Methods and Results heading come before the discussion section.

Discussion

It’s in this section that the facts are highlighted and due analysis carried out. It is advisable to break the discussion phase with headings if it is too lengthy. The points raised should be logically presented and easy to comprehend. The use of headings can be used to improve the clarity of the report. Also, the use of bullet points is encouraged at this point.

Conclusion

Here, the audience's attention is called to the main points addressed in the research. Besides, the points considered as central are highlighted. It is recommended that new materials or information are not introduced, and it should be free of jargon.

Recommendations

These are your thoughts in suggesting solutions or a way-out to the challenges encountered during the research work.
This should be in the order of priority, making use of bullets to highlight your thoughts while you are also making sure that it is written in a language that the readers can best understand (English Language preferable).

Appendices

This section is where the unpublished materials used in the course of the research are presented. These unpublished materials include graphs, surveys, questionnaires, and tables. So, these materials have all the technical details that back up the concluding chapter.

Bibliography

The bibliography is usually done alphabetically, and it must be listed in line with the guidelines stated by the department. Other materials used but not directly cited in the article are stated in the bibliography.

Acknowledgment

At this point, the help, assistance, and advice offered by organizations and other individuals are appreciated and cited.

Guide on how to write a report

Terms of reference

Writers need to go through details and instructions as laid down by the tutor or the panel, and also examine the purpose of the research work. Answering the questions below would help to be able to come up with the terms of reference:

  • What’s the research about? 
  • What’s the importance of the work?
  • Why is it good to embark on the work?
  • Is there any timeline for the write-up?
  • Who’s the target audience?

What procedure would be followed?

This involves adequate planning, research, and investigation of the research. Also, giving answers to the questions below will assist:

  • What is the level of information at my disposal?
  • What materials do I need?
  • Do I need to make use of the library?
  • Will interview or personal observation help?
  • Do I need to document my findings?
  • In what ways will we achieve all these?

Locating the necessary details needed

It is necessary to have the right information for the report. These details can be acquired from articles and carried out observations. However, the information must be appropriate for the research work. It is good to research relevant information as it is the building block for the report.

What would be the structure of the report?

The structure does not differ for all reports; however, some information might be written using a different format. The difference in the structure of the writing is usually based on the following; is it a business, research, investigative, or other forms of report writing? Is it a lengthy or formal type of report writing?

Therefore, the form which the write-up would follow can be streamlined into the formats below:

  • The title page
  • Summary 
  • Executive summary
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Procedure
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations 
  • Appendices
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgment

Initial Draft

You are ready for your draft once you have decided on the structure to adopt. Supply all the details gathered under the appropriate headings and subheadings. At this juncture, the terms of reference, the methods, and the outcomes should be ready.

Outcomes

These are the discoveries, according to research, reading, and other investigative findings. The outcome may also include graphs, photos, and tables to enumerate the report and make it easier to comprehend.

Appendices

Choose the details to be included in the appendices. This information is usually too large to be included in the main report. Examples include large tables, brochures, spreadsheets, etc.

Result Analysis and Conclusion

At this level, you interpret and analyze results. Go through the body of the report to determine what you have found out, the importance of the outcome, and recommendations from the findings. Discoveries should not be introduced at this point.

What are the Recommendations?

Recommendations are your thoughts on the way out of the challenges encountered. The following will assist the writer in knowing what to recommend:

  • You must go through the outcomes and conclusions again.
  • It must be workable, and it should agree with the conclusions.
  • Recommendations should be a pointer to what needs to be done or not to be done.
  • Suggestions must be presented as a bullet or numbering list moving from the most important points to the least important points.

The executive summary and table of contents

Some reports are incomplete without the executive summary and the table of contents. Writing these two sections is usually made after the whole document has been completed, and the suggestions, structures, and other sections of the write-up are ready.

Reference list

This contains the list of all the materials referred to in the body of the research. It should, therefore, be according to the APA formatting style.

Revisit the initial draft

  • To confirm that every information provided is correct and without errors;
  • To check if the important sections are all added to the report and in the right orders;
  • For clarity and easy readability;
  • To ensure all images, terms, and other abbreviations have been well enumerated;
  • To ensure all graphs, illustrations, diagrams, and tables are well presented (numbering and labeling);
  • To verify whether the information used is in agreement with recommendations and the conclusions.

Presentation of Report

The following are styles that can be used to format the writing for easy readability by the audience

Headings and Subheadings

In making the write-up organized and presentable, it is necessary to use headings and subheadings so that the audience can easily get the details they are looking out for. These headings and subheadings can be highlighted under the table of content for easy tracking and identification.

Reference Lists

Bullet points and numbers can be used where necessary to highlight and manage a chunk of information.

Font

It is recommended that the same font be employed in writing. Writers might want to make use of the Times New Roman or Ariel (these two are regarded as the best for writing). However, the writer can decide to use a different font for a heading and another font for the report itself.

Forms of Report

Reports can come in different types, but the fundamental elements of any type of report are the same. So, in knowing how to write a report, one must know the forms in which reports can be presented.

Technical Report 

This report places emphasis on how things are done. It describes the way things are carried out. Also, the writers of the technical report might cite quote statistics and facts to support their argument and assertions. So, these reports usually follow a guiding principle that is logically arranged.

Business Report 

The business report is a formal type of report. Writing a business report is for the sake of revealing new and fresh ideas and initiatives. The business report supports the use of data and images to support the ideas.

Academic Report 

This is a formal type of writing a report. Here, there is no use of slang or other contractions. It is recommended to report the third person and not according to the use of pronouns like “we” and “I”.

Other types of reports are: formal reports, informal reports, analytical reports, informational reports, long, short, proposal, periodic, internal, lateral, functional reports.

The organization of the report is important, as well as clarity in readability. This can only be achieved following the right structure and format as this does not only leave a lasting impression but also makes the writer credible.

Use a quality paper in printing the report, bind, or put in a folder before the submission. The way and manner in which the report is submitted leaves an impression that counts for a long time.

So, do you want to have it easy with your next report writing? If yes, go through all the recommendations and submit the best report.

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