Reports are used by business, government and other institutions for a number of purposes. Reports may:
At university some faculties require you to present your assignments in report form. Reports are written in formal (sometimes technical) language. Like an essay, they are presented in third person. Factual evidence and factually-based analysis are highly valued in the report writing.
The format that a report takes varies according to the purpose for which the report is intended. Although they vary, reports share a common structure which is very different from the structure of an essay. This material will provide you with the opportunity to examine the main features of a basic report and practise writing various components.
Following is an outline of the sections found most frequently in reports.
The letter of transmittal is a formal record of the delivery of the report. It transmits the report from the report-writer to the person who commissioned the report.
The title page should include the following information: the title of the report, the name of the person (or organisation) who commissioned the report, the date of the submission, and the name of the author of the report.
The executive summary provides an overview of the report’s purpose, the methods used to compile the report, its findings and its recommendations. It should be a concise, self-contained document that covers all the important points in the report it summarises.
The Table of contents lists the sections of the report in the order in which they appear. Each section is numbered consecutively and corresponding page numbers are indicated. A list of figures and tables provided in the report is added at the end of the Table of contents.
The introduction describes the background, purpose and scope of the report. It also indicates who commissioned or authorised the report and why the report was produced.
The body of the report contains data, discussion and analysis. It is presented in a logical sequence. Headings and sub-headings are used to identify each section and sub-section. As in an essay, paragraphing is used to separate and develop ideas. Unlike an essay, the body of a report often contains tables and figures. Dot points can also be used where appropriate. The body of a report is a discussion or description of the material under investigation. The judgements about the material are left to the conclusions.
The conclusion summarises the major points or findings of the assignment. This is the section that analyses and evaluates. It contains no new information. It should indicate if the purpose of the report was fulfilled, what type of data was used, and what conclusions were reached.
Recommendations are often included in a report. They suggest a specific course of action based on the findings of the report. They should be based on the conclusions drawn from the report.
The list of references is an alphabetical listing of all the material used in the preparation of the report.
Appendices generally contain material that is relevant to the report but not suitable for the body of the report. All appendices have a title and are appropriately numbered. Materials suitable for inclusion in an appendix include maps, large amounts of data or copies of important documents. Material included in appendices must be correctly referenced.
You are required to write a report in this course. To assist you in this task, there follows a sample report and a set of exercises. Once you have completed these activities you will be ready to write your own report in the appropriate style.
The title of your report is…………….…Lecturer to insert.
Now you are ready to write your own report. Return to the information you have just read and produced to ensure you are on track with each section.