If you are immersed in academic, research, or the business world, it is likely that sooner or later (or even right now), you will have to face the task of report writing. Therefore, knowing how to write a report can save your life.
Here you can find a practical guide which will help you know the appropriate techniques needed in writing a report so that it will comply with standards. If you follow these steps to the letter, you will not only learn the art of making a report, but you will be the best at it.
What Is Report Writing?
Before getting into a subject and teaching you how to write a good paper, you need to know clearly what you are facing. Therefore, the first thing is to delve a bit into the concept and define it.
A formal report or report essay is a text written in prose form, exposing the results of an investigation, a business process, or the analysis of a particular topic.
This type of report is used as an expository tool in different areas such as business, scientific, literary, or even in the legal field.
A report paper aims to present the reader with an analysis of results in the framework of an investigation, with special emphasis on the conclusions and processes that led to a certain result.
In the business area, brief reports are used to account for progress in different processes within the company or to disclose timely information requested by external entities.
Types Of Reports
There are various types of reports from projects or business to lab reports, let’s take a look at these two generic types.
Business Or Project Report
Business report writing is an assignment which the writer or researcher is required to analyze a situation while using standard management theories to arrive at some recommendations for an improved result.
An example, within a business organization, can be when workers are evaluated or when another company is studied. In essence, we can have a report as a tool used in a research study or in a scientific field.
Another general type is an academic report. These could be book reports, movie reviews, research, and even lab reports.
Academic reports are different from other types with one of the reasons being that they must be written and structured according to a recommended style format such as APA or MLA. Also, it’s easier and cheaper to buy book reports than buy business reports of a specific organization.
Report Writing Format And Style
If your teacher or instructor doesn’t state otherwise, APA or AP is the best formatting style for writing academic and business reports or other journalistic writings.
Also, the best type of writing style used for producing reports is the formal type. To achieve this, you may want to steer clear of the active voice and use the passive voice more. The active voice sound subjective. Meanwhile, report writing is supposed to be objective and devoid of personal opinions and views.
To write an effective report, you must choose and maintain a certain structure. Check out the correct way to structure your paper.
Executive summaries are frequently used more in business reports than academic ones. They are used in situations where the entire report is voluminous. Like a newspaper news article, the writer or researcher seeks to capture the entire gist in a few paragraphs before presenting the full paper.
The introduction is the presentation of your report where you must explain in brief words what the work is about. To make an effective introduction, you must answer these questions: what, how, where, and why. If you answer each of these questions and join them with logical connectors, you will surely have a great introduction.
In developing the body paragraphs, you have to expose the subject in the most accurate way possible, explaining the results found through the use of clear arguments.
The body is dedicated to the analysis of the facts. Then, you move on to the synthesis, that is, to the phase which you interpret what happened and get the useful indications for the future.
Finally, you must finalize the text of the document with the conclusions. You take stock of all your work. The conclusion, as the name implies, is the synthesis of what is addressed in your report. Try to write brief conclusions that summarize the most relevant points of the topic addressed
The appendix cannot be mistaken for references, citations, or the bibliography. Appendices, in short, are added text which necessarily aren’t the main idea raised in the article, but are important in the making of the written report.
In principle, to write a report, you can use this standard structure:
- Presentation of the subject treated
- Motivations for choosing the topic
- Purpose of the work
- Phases and hours of work
- People involved in the work and their role
- Body paragraphs
- Presentation of the aspects examined
- Methods followed
- Used tools
- Work evaluation
- Possible difficulties encountered
- Final reflections on the evidence that emerged from the document
- Proposals for the future
Important Report Writing Tips
Before you begin a report, there are some talking points, tips and report writing skills such as fact gathering, persuasive writing technique, theoretical knowledge, etc. which you must observe or put into practice even before getting the report prompt. Check them out:
- Choose your goal well
It will seem trivial to start from here, but the result you want to obtain from your report is really the axis of everything. So, before writing a single line of the report, you should ask yourself: “What is the goal I want to achieve? What is the message I want to convey?
- Put yourself in the role of the recipient
This suggestion is not only valid when a report is written. More generally, it’s worth it for every time you sit down and write any kind of document. Putting yourself in the shoes of your recipient is essential: it helps you process the information contained in your report, to make it more understandable.
- Make a list of the things you need to write
Before writing your report, you should know what issues to touch. In summary: writing a report does not make sense if you do not know where you want to go and how. Take a sheet and write on it what are the topics of the project and the order it touches them. It is about choosing the topic to start from, the central topics and the concepts on which to build the end of the report.
- Search authorized sources
Writing a report means being as objective as possible. In fact, this type of document is an analysis of fact and not a creative history. Therefore, your sources must be reliable and objective. You must mention them in the text of your report: they should be based on truth.
- Be simple, clear and concrete
For your reader, you have an obligation to be extremely clear. Here are some tips on how to be more understandable and, consequently, on how to write a report that is more effective:
- Write short sentences
- Use simple language
- Avoid subordinates: force the reader and eliminate concentration
- Be clear, precise, concrete: avoid whirling words full of smoke
- Avoid a baroque or presumptuous style
- Avoid any technical jargon, unless the report is read by those who understand it
- Use tables and charts
Writing a report means exposing facts in a concrete way. And what is better to support facts than a graph or table? Therefore, use these elements to clarify and give even more concreteness to the things you write in your report.
- Insert photos and images
Images and photographs are much more intuitive than words. This also applies when you need to write a report. Therefore, in your reports, insert photographs or images to document, clarify, and exemplify.
- Format the report text
Writing a report also needs giving it a nice look. This means formatting your text appropriately. For example:
- Choose the most appropriate format for maximum readability, both in case the document is printed or read on a monitor.
- Highlight the most important words and concepts in bold.
- Use numbered and bulleted lists for item lists.
- Divide the text into blocks to avoid an unpleasant effect that makes the text look like a single wall.
- Choose an effective title: A very important point of writing a report is what title to give the document. The title must be absolutely clear, you must say what the report contains. You must not be lazy or use word games. Probably, the best time to choose the title is at the end of the report, when the work is finished, and everything is clear.
- Use summaries
If your report is long, it should be divided into chapters. In this case, the use of abstracts is recommended. A summary is a short text, a hundred or two hundred words maximum, which is placed at the beginning of each chapter and explains to the reader what you will find in that part of the report.
- Read the document carefully
Re-reading what is written is an important phase of writing a report. Verify especially that there are no errors in spelling, grammar, or syntax in the report. Also, verify that the sentences are logically linked to each other. In addition, the topic of each sentence should always be clearly expressed.
- Take care of your spelling. Any text loses its seriousness if it has spelling errors.
- Before you start writing your report, you can make summaries to find your main ideas.
- Create a template where you put in words and the things you should say. This will help you at the time of writing to develop your ideas.
- In case you include specific data of an investigation, book, press release, or other documents that have a copyright, you must quote properly and include a bibliography.
To be a successful report writer, you must to know the concept and the various types. Report writing has a definitive structure and style to follow, as already revealed in this article. Try to follow them correctly, and you’d be assured of a great report paper.