Have you ever written a report before? If you have, then you might be familiar with the amount of time and effort it takes to complete a single report. Report writing requires a special set of skills, research, and details to fulfill. This is done to provide an audience with a better understanding of a specific topic using a series of data and facts. But to do so, you must first learn how to write a report from scratch with the help of a few pointers and examples.
A formal report discusses a particular topic in a structured and detailed format. This is often broken down into a series of headings and subheadings to explain various concepts that support an overall idea. Reports can involve academics, technical or business ideas, and feature recommendations for certain actions.
Report writing allows us to present factual data about a situation, project, or process in such a way that will define and examine the issue at hand. This is done to relay vital information to an audience in a clear and concise manner. you may also see free writing examples.
Reports cover a wide range of topics, whether it’s in the fields of business or academics. They are accurate, objective, and complete documents that convey a thought about a specific topic for an audience to grasp.
Many people create these reports to properly analyze an issue and record the results that have been gathered from the research. The scope and style of these reports vary depending on three primary factors: the report’s target audience, the author’s purpose for formal writing, and the type of information to be communicated.
For instance, technical reports relay technical information that only industry-specific individuals can fully comprehend. The document is therefore tailored according to the reader’s familiarity and understanding of technical concepts.
In many cases, report writing is taught to us at a young age. Teachers and professors often instruct their students to create a comprehensive report about a book in literature, or an experiment conducted in chemistry. This was quite simple to do, especially when we were merely taught to follow a required report format, while also writing clearly and concisely.
But then again, just because reports are easy to read, this doesn’t really mean they’re easy to write.
Constructing a good report takes time, effort, and most of all, practice. You need to work out what your audience is looking for, what they could do with the information they received, and how both parties (the writer and the audience) can learn from what is found in the general report. But since every report contains a particular content and caters to a specific audience, then it’s safe to say that every report is different.
There is no set formula that must be memorized, rather, the key to making a good report is to understand its intended purpose.
Although there isn’t a recognized general agreement regarding the universal classifications of a report, the following categories of a report are in common use among different branches of business, engineering, science and technology, and academics.
Formal reports are most common in business and technical settings. These reports are carefully structured, in which objectivity and organization are emphasized.
The process of writing a formal report requires immense research, examination, references, links, lists, and other forms of data to make the main point of the topic clear enough for readers to comprehend. This type of report writing is vital in presenting data concerning important incidents, issues, or matters that occur within an organization. This is generally lengthy in form and quite expensive to produce.
Informal reports, on the other hand, is comparatively easier and less time-consuming to write. The guidelines in writing an informal report aren’t as strict as opposed to that of a formal report due to the lesser amount of components and information needed to complete the report. Relaying information is also a lot easier, as this gives you the opportunity to use natural, casual language through the document. You may also see management report examples.
This is a classification that can be pretty difficult to determine. One-page reports are obviously classified as a short report, while a twenty-page report may be identified as a long report. But where is the dividing line between the two?
In most cases, formal reports carry a larger amount of data making the report a lot lengthy in form. We can then consider it as a long report due to its number of pages. Short reports are more common among book reports and lab reports because of how it communicates a specific thought with only a limited scope.
Informational reports are documents that carry objective information from one division of an organization to another. Some examples of an informational report include annual reports, weekly status reports, monthly financial reports, and employee attendance reports.
As for analytical reports, these are a type of report that are based on scientific research about a topic. Some organizations also produce analytical reports to study the behavior and attitude of their target market in an attempt to solve an existing problem. Other examples of analytical reports include feasibility reports and real-estate appraisals.
A proposal document is another variation of a problem-solving report. This is prepared to relay information regarding how one entity can meet the needs of another entity.
Say for example, living in a fast-changing industry, a business would need to adapt to modernized approaches in manufacturing using different types of machinery and devices. However, they don’t fully recognize this problem until another organization calls them out for it. If the proposal is good enough to convince the management to invest on the given solution, then both entities can possibly benefit from the deal. You may also see business report examples.
Most agencies even advertise their needs to invite promising businesses to step up by issuing Requests for Proposal or RFPs. The RFP specifies the need that potential suppliers must meet through their proposed solutions.
This classification of reports refers to the direction to which it travels. Report documents that move upward or downward the hierarchy are known as vertical reports. The data presented in the report usually contributes to management control, while lateral reports help in coordination within the organization. A lateral report travels between sectors of the same organization level such as that of the production and finance departments. You may also like project report examples.
An internal report covers the different departments and operations within an organization. These reports allow managers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of its workforce, along with the issues that need to be addressed immediately. This is an essential document for the organization to study its human and material resources effectively for better corporate outcomes. You may also check out memo writing examples.
On the contrary, external reports are prepared for distribution outside the organization for clients and other stakeholders to examine.
This type of report is issued according to a scheduled date, such as that of a daily and monthly report. These reports are produced on a regular basis for proper management control. Printed template forms and other computer-generated data help contribute to the uniformity of these documents.
Report writing is a time-consuming process that requires commitment and dedication. And like any other document, it’s always important to prepare and plan your report before beginning with the actual writing.
The first thing you need to do is to identify your audience. Who are intended to read the report? Clients? Managers? Employees? Your simple report should be written and tailored according to the expectations of your target readers. Apart from your desired audience, you also need to identify what the purpose of your report is and why it is needed, along with the key information that has to be included in the report.
Once you have established the basics of your report, you can then proceed to collecting data.
Books, surveys, interviews, and other related sources can help you gather significant data for your short report. After sorting through these sources, you must then evaluate the data and determine whether or not it adds value to your report. By doing so, you can easily organize the acquired data and put together a well-defined report outline. Proper planning will make it easier for you to write the report and stay organized.
Most reports have a specific structure to follow. The main components of a standard are the following:
The title section of the report informs the reader what the document is about. For a short report, the front cover may contain any necessary information that an audience must know about, including the topic discussed, the date prepared, and the author(s) behind the report. But for lengthy, formal reports, you may want to add a definition of terms and a table of content to guide your audience.
A summary, also referred to as an executive summary in some instances, consists of the primary points emphasized in the report, along with the conclusion and the recommendation. Since this section presents a general overview of the report, you need to keep it as simple and concise as possible. Try not to expound certain ideas too much, otherwise this takes away the thrill of reading the actual document.
You also need to make it engaging enough to prompt an audience to continue reading. Keep in mind that some people would rather read the summary and only skim the rest of the basic report. Since first impressions matter even in report writing, you need to make sure your summary leaves a memorable impact.
It’s best to write this part of the report once you have finished writing the rest of the document to ensure that every detail is recorded correctly, especially when there are certain points added at the last minute.
Every report must have an introduction. This is where the problem tackled in the report is introduced and the reason for writing the report is explained. If you didn’t include the definition of terms in the title section, then you can include it in your introduction. You must keep it intriguing yet comprehensible enough for all types of readers to understand.
As the main section of the report, this is where you begin your discussion. Though the previous sections are written in simple English, the body of your report may contain technical terms or jargon relevant in your industry. There should be several sections each labeled with a subtitle that defines its content. You may also see application writing examples.
Let’s say for instance, scientific research reports generally contain a series of chapters such as the scope and limitations, the significance of the study, the review of related literature (or studies), and the objectives of the report. This is usually arranged in order of importance, with the most significant information coming first.
If you wish, you can even add a “Discussions” section at the very end of your main body to analyze your findings and their significance.
After the data analysis section of your report, you must then end your discussion with a conclusion. This is where everything stated in the report comes together. Make sure you keep this portion free of jargon, as similar to your general executive summary, most people scan through the document and skip to the conclusion to see what they can gain from the report.
Your recommendations should point to the suggested actions that need to be taken in regards to what has been discussed in the report. Explain your recommendations in a brief and structured manner, specifically in order of priority.
Some appendices consist of further studies, survey results, charts and graphs presenting quantitative data, and other relevant resources that support your conclusion. The technical details that were merely mentioned and not properly conveyed in the report may be added to your appendices for visual interpretation. You may also check out script writing examples.
The report writing format above is one of the most common structures applied across different fields. Following the given format will make it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for in your document.
Remember to use simple language throughout the document, except for the body, which can be as technical as you need it to be. Be sure to stick to the main topic of your report, and arrange your thoughts in a logical manner for better understanding. You might be interested in summary writing examples.
The way you present your data and analysis to readers matters greatly when writing a report. You need to present your discussions in such a way that is easy to read and navigate through.
Keep in mind that your audience may comprise of a diverse group of individuals, who are likely running on a tight schedule, so you want to make sure that they could look through your standard report and get the information they need as quickly as possible. That way, you can make a positive impression and leave a greater impact on readers.
There are various formatting styles that can be used for your report. Here are some examples to guide you:
It’s best to choose a single font for your entire report. Easy-to-read font styles such as Arial and Times New Roman serve as the ideal options for such. If you decide to use a font besides the ones suggested, then you need to make sure that they’re neat and readable enough for your report. Otherwise, it might be difficult for people to understand the exact words printed on the report. You may also see recruitment report examples.
Sometimes, expounding your thoughts in paragraphs can be difficult to comprehend. Not only do you need to stick to the central point, but you also need to worry about making the proper transitions for each thought to avoid confusion. So rather than writing a lengthy simple statement for a single concept, you can use lists whenever possible. This will help you break complex ideas into multiple points that are easier to understand. You can either use numbered lists or bullet lists whenever applicable.
We all know how books are divided into different chapters to portray a given thought in an organized manner. Similarly, you can use headings and subheadings throughout your report depending on the topic it focuses on. Dividing your report into manageable chunks allows you to keep the document organized, and it can be located quickly through the table of contents. You may also like status report examples.
Report writing can be a huge challenge for many beginners. It’s a daunting process to carry out, so you can’t expect yourself to perfect the craft overnight. Fortunately, your writing skills may improve overtime with a little practice. To help widen your knowledge and enhance your skills in report writing, here are few tips that you can follow:
Reports are generally composed of paragraphs of sentences that convey a variety of thoughts. But with the amount of information being communicated in a single document, you might want to use short, straightforward sentences that are easy to read and understand. You may also see service report examples.
This will save you and your audience a good amount of time to take in the different sections of your report, especially when you need to review the said report before an urgent meeting with your boss. Also, you don’t want to make room for ambiguity with longer sentences. You may also like quality report examples.
But in case you do need to use a longer sentence to properly relay an idea, then try to limit yourself to a maximum of three commas per sentence. Anything more than that may cause complications in your sentence structure and grammar.
Vague language can be confusing, as they open the door to sentence errors and misinterpretations. For example, “residence” can refer to several things. Is it a house, apartment, dormitory, or mobile home? Keep in mind that clarity in communication should be one of your main professional goals in report writing. If you want your readers to understand your message correctly, then you need to be as clear and specific as possible with your choice of words and delivery.
Although fancy, sophisticated words can often seem classy and formal when you want to make a good impression, it’s not always the case when you’re trying to make a valid point. If there’s a plain and universally understood alternative to these words, then always go for the simple option. You may also check out investigation report samples and examples.
Focus on communicating rather than impressing. That way, you can ensure that every word written in the report plays an important role there, and that it contributes to the overall purpose of the report.
Additionally, refrain from going into too much detail unless it’s completely necessary. You don’t want to waste time and space on words that may easily be taken out of the report without changing its central idea.
Theories, hunches, guesses, and other thoughts drawn from mere assumptions do not belong in a report. Not only are they inaccurate, but they also leave space for criticism. A basic statement like “He seemed aggressive” is questionable, and it also shows how unsure you are about what is written in your report. Instead, you need to be more detailed with your statements.
Effective writing “Kyle clenched his fist and slammed the door” presents observable facts that are easier to analyze. If you want to prove a point, then you need to make sure that the information you have gathered come from reliable sources. Otherwise, your readers may question your credibility, along with your ability to write an effective report.
Some writers make the mistake of writing their thoughts in blocks of words. This can be very confusing for most readers, especially when a single topic has to be divided into different subtopics to make sense.
The best you could do is to organize information into groups. This will help keep your report logical, and since it’s arranged in a proper order, then it will be easier to read and understand later on.
Notice how general checklists use a bullet style to arrange each item on the list in such a way that is easy to comprehend? Like how your mother has been writing her shopping list whenever she asks you to run to the store for errands. When writing a report, you can use the same format to record several pieces of related information together, such as:
James Jackson told me:
Based from the example above, a group of observable facts are listed in a structured manner. It also follows a logical order of events based from what initially happened down to how it ended.
When you write statements that refer to you or other at the scene, then it’s best to use names or pronouns (I, we, he, her) for accuracy.
Think of it this way: if you were asked to testify in court and swore to tell the truth, you would use everyday language with proper pronouns in your testimony. This is to prove that you have witnessed the scene, or that you were present when a particular event took place. Knowing this, you’d want to avoid outdated expressions such as “this officer” and “the person shown in the picture.” You may also check out what is writing used for?
One of the vital steps of writing a report is proofreading your draft. Good grammar and punctuation is extremely important when writing a report, as a few minor mistakes may already affect one’s perception toward the document. Be sure to check for any spelling or grammar errors, along with common sentence structure mistakes such as comma splices and sentence fragments. You might be interested in marketing report examples.
Double-check or even check the document for any errors that might have been missed. You can also ask a friend or a colleague review your report for further analysis. Having a new set of eyes proofread the report prepares you for any criticisms or opinions about your work. You may also check out writing examples in pdf.
Report writing is a hefty task that both students and professionals consider equally difficult. But at some point in your life, you’d be asked to prepare a report for the sake of a grade in school or a job in a company. This is a challenge that you can overcome with a little practice and commitment. With these guidelines and examples, you’re sure to improve your writing skills to complete a well-written report in no time.