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    How to Write a Report

    In this Article: Article Summary Sample Reports Selecting your Topic Researching Your Topic Prewriting for Your Report Writing Your Report Finalizing Your Report Community Q&A 10 References

    Writing a report can be a long, daunting process. Fortunately, if you take it one step at a time and plan as you go, writing a report can be an enjoyable learning experience.

    Steps

    Sample Reports

    Part 1

    Selecting your Topic

    1. Image titled Write a Report Step 1

      1
      Understand the assignment. If your teacher, professor, or boss gave your guidelines for your report, make sure you read them (and reread them). What is the assignment asking of you? Are you supposed to inform your audience about a topic? Generally if you are writing a report for an elementary, middle or high school class, you will be asked to present a topic without inserting your opinion. Other assignments might ask you to persuade your audience about a certain way of perceiving your topic, or analyze a topic. Ask your teacher about any questions you might have as soon as possible. [1]

      • Keep in mind that if your purpose is only to inform your audience, you should not put your own opinion into your report or add any persuasive elements.
    2. Image titled Write a Report Step 2

      2
      Choose a good topic that you love. Feeling passionate about a topic will drive you to do your best work possible. Of course, sometimes you will not have the option to choose your topic. If this is the case, try to find something about the assigned topic that you can get passionate about. Always make sure to run your ideas by your teacher to make sure that it is okay that you approach the report in this way. [2]

      • If your assignment is to give a report on a particular event of the 1960s in America, and you don’t like history but you do like music, focus your report on the way the music in the 1960s tied into the event that occurred during that time. But make sure to include lots of details about other things based on the topic too.
    3. Image titled Write a Report Step 3

      3
      Pick an original topic. If you are giving a report to your classmates, try to pick a topic that is original and engaging. If you are the third person to give a report on Disneyland that day, chances are you probably won’t have your classmates attention. To avoid repetition, ask your teacher what topics have already been picked.

      • If the topic you want has been chosen, try to find a different angle to present it in. For instance, if you wanted to do your report on Disneyland, but somebody already chose that topic, you could focus your report on one specific section of Disneyland, like Adventureland. You could discuss what inspired its creation, the different rides you find in that section, and any major changes that have happened to Adventureland recently. [3]
    4. Image titled Write a Report Step 4

      4
      Keep in mind that you can change your topic. If you begin to research the topic you have chosen and realize that you can’t find any information on the topic, or that your topic is too broad, you can always change your topic, so long as you are not starting your project the day before its due.

      • If you find that your topic is too broad, try to pick a specific part of the topic to focus on. For instance, if you wanted to do your report on World Fairs, but realized there are way too many of the them to talk about, and they are all too varied to discuss as a whole, choose one specific world fair, such as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, to focus on.

    Part 2

    Researching Your Topic

    1. Image titled Write a Report Step 5

      1
      Research your topic. Make sure you have the correct number of sources for your paper (your guidelines should cover how many sources your teacher expects you to have). [4] If you are writing a report about a time in history, make sure to add a time line.

      • If you are giving a report on a specific person, research his/her life–what was his/her childhood like? What did he/she do that was important? What was his/her family life like?I
      • If you are writing a report on an event, find out what other events led to your event, what actually happened during the event, and what the aftermath of the event was.
    2. Image titled Write a Report Step 6

      2
      Visit the library. Libraries are an excellent place to find information. Search the library’s database for any books or materials related to your article. If you are having trouble, ask a librarian for help.

      • If you find a great book that covers your topic well, look at the sources the author used (these will generally be listed in the back of the book.) These sources can often lead to even more useful information and websites.
    3. Image titled Write a Report Step 7

      3
      Make sure your online sources are reputable. If you are using the internet to find information about your topic, always make sure to double check any facts you find. Stick with information gathered by known experts in the field you are researching, government agency websites, and scholarly journals. Try to avoid forums and other sources that have no credible backing. [5]

      • If you are writing a report about a specific person, company, or place, try to find their own website. For instance, if you are writing a report on Jane Goodall, a great source would be using the Jane Goodall Institute website.
    4. Image titled Write a Report Step 8

      4
      Keep track of all of the information you find. Write each source you use down on a flashcard. Write down all of the information you can find on the source (such as the author, publication date, publisher/website, city in which it was published, page number for where you found the information, and so on) so that you can easily create your bibliography later.

    Part 3

    Prewriting for Your Report

    1. Image titled Write a Report Step 9

      1
      Come up with a thesis statement . Thesis statements are the main idea of your report. A thesis statement summarizes what you want to prove in your report for your reader. All of your subsequent topic sentences of body paragraphs should tie back into this thesis, so make sure that it is general enough to stand throughout your essay. If you are simply reporting on a topic, create a thesis statement that does not contain any opinion-based information. If you are creating a thesis that is meant to persuade someone about a topic, or that is meant to deeply analyze a topic, the thesis should contain an argument that you intend to prove in your essay. [6]

      • Example of straightforward report thesis (Thesis 1): The three main halls of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.
      • Example of a persuasive or analytic report thesis (Thesis 2): The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was intended as a celebration of the Progressive spirit, but actually harbored a deep racism and principle of white supremacy that most visitors chose to ignore or celebrate.
    2. Image titled Write a Report Step 10

      2
      Create an outline. Outlines help you to visualize how your essay will look. Outlines can be straightforward lists, idea webs or concept maps. Begin with your thesis statement and then pick the three major ideas related to your thesis statement that you will want to cover in your essay. Write down details about each main idea.

      • Your main ideas should support your thesis. They should be the evidence that provides support to your argument.
      • Example main ideas for Thesis 1: Exhibits at the Court of the Universe, Exhibits at the Court of the Four Seasons, Exhibits at the Court of Abundance.
      • Example main ideas for Thesis 2: Racism in the ‘Joy Zone’, the statue of ‘The End of the Trail’, and the presence of ‘Race Betterment’ lectures at the fair.
    3. Image titled Write a Report Step 11

      3
      Decide how you will format your report. The structure of your paper depends on your topic. If you are writing a report on a person, it would make the most sense to structure your report in chronological order.

      • For Thesis 1, the report would be structured as a spatial guide to the fair–the report would discuss the main exhibits in each of the major buildings at the fair (the Court of the Universe, the Court of the Four Seasons, and the Court of Abundance.)

    Part 4

    Writing Your Report

    1. Image titled Write a Report Step 12

      1
      Write your introduction. Your intro is where you introduce your topic and state your thesis. Your intro should be engaging but not corny–the goal should be to hook the reader so that they want to read the rest of your report. You should provide some background information on your topic and then state your thesis so that the reader knows what the report is going to be about. When you are revising make sure you look at the first word in every sentence and try not to let any of them be repetitive.

      • Example Intro for Thesis 1: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915 was intended to celebrate both the creation of the Panama Canal, and the technological advancements achieved at the turn of the century. The three main halls of the PPIE were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era. [7]
    2. Image titled Write a Report Step 13

      2
      Write your body paragraphs. The body paragraphs are where you state your evidence that supports your thesis. Each body paragraph consists of a topic sentence and evidence supporting the topic sentence. The topic sentence introduces the main idea of the body paragraph and links the paragraph back to the thesis. [8]

      • Example topic sentence for Thesis 1: At the PPIE, the Court of the Universe was the heart of the exposition and represented the greatest achievements of man, as well as the meeting of the East and the West.
      • For a report that is about a person, a topic sentence might be something like, “John Doe had a rough childhood that shaped who he became.” Obviously you would put in more specific information relevant to the person you are reporting about.
    3. Image titled Write a Report Step 14

      3
      Support your topic sentence. After you write your topic sentence in the body paragraph, provide evidence found in your research that supports your topic sentence. This evidence can be descriptions of things mentioned in your topic sentence, quotes from experts on the subjects, or more information about the topic listed.

      • For the topic sentence listed above about the Court of the Universe, the body paragraph should go on to list the different exhibits found at the exhibit, as well as proving how the Court represented the meeting of the East and West.
      • For a report about a person, you would provide evidence that proved John Doe had a hard childhood and that his experiences led him to become the famous person he was.
    4. Image titled Write a Report Step 15

      4
      Write your conclusion. This paragraph both summarizes your thesis again, and provides your final thoughts on your topic. It should reiterate to the reader what the reader should be taking away from your report. [9]
    5. Image titled Write a Report Step 16

      5
      Cite your sources. Your teacher or professor should tell you whether to use MLA, APA or Chicago style when writing your essay. Format any quotes you use, as well as your bibliography accordingly.

    6. Image titled Write a Report Step 17

      6
      Format your report. Try to follow your teacher’s formatting instructions to the letter. If he or she made no formatting instructions, go with something clean and classic. Standard format for academic reports in the United States is 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font, double-spaced lines, and 1-inch margins all around.

    Part 5

    Finalizing Your Report

    1. Image titled Write a Report Step 18

      1
      Read through your report from an outsider’s perspective. Does the point you are trying to make come across clearly? Does all of your evidence support your thesis? If you were someone reading your report for the first time, would you feel like you understood the topic after reading the report?

    2. Image titled Write a Report Step 19

      2
      Get someone else to read your report. Having a second pair of eyes can be helpful to make sure your point is clear and your writing doesn’t sound awkward. Ask your helper, do you understand what I am saying in my report? Is there anything you think I should take out or add? Is there anything you would change?

    3. Image titled Write a Report Step 20

      3
      Proofread your report. Check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Are there any awkward sentences that you can rewrite? [10]
    4. Image titled Write a Report Step 21

      4
      Read your report out loud. Reading out loud will help you to identify any sections of the report that might sound awkward (like if there are run-on sentences.)

    5. Image titled Write a Report Step 22

      5
      Put your paper aside for a few days. If you have time to put the paper away and clear your head before proofreading, it is a good thing to do. Taking a break from your paper will help you to spot more errors and parts that don’t make sense when you come back to it.

    Community Q&A

    Search

    Add New Question

    • Question
      How do I write a police report?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Your organization should clearly communicate its requirements. Typically, a police report should lead with a description of the event being described, then provide a thorough, factual, first-person account of everything that happened.
      Thanks!

      Yes
      No
      Not Helpful 59
      Helpful 204

    • Question
      How many pages should my report be?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Your report should be long enough to get the point across. Most teachers will write the page or word count limit on the assignment sheet. Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to reports, it is the quality that matters, not the quantity.
      Thanks!

      Yes
      No
      Not Helpful 54
      Helpful 185

    • Question
      What tense should I write my report in?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      If you are reporting on past events, use the past tense. If you are reporting on the current situation, use the present tense.
      Thanks!

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      Not Helpful 77
      Helpful 247

    • Question
      What voice should I use while writing a report?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      It depends on what type of report you are writing. In general, however, it’s best to use active voice.
      Thanks!

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      Not Helpful 60
      Helpful 176

    • Question
      How do I write a report of an organization meeting?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Meeting notes are referred to as minutes, and typically restrict themselves to the names of those in attendance and what motions were passed or defeated. You can find out more from this article .
      Thanks!

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    • Question
      Should I write my report in the first person?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Most reports are neutral, factual accounts written in the third person. However, you should use the first person when describing something you witnessed personally, or when you are admitting blame.
      Thanks!

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    • Question
      Can I use idioms in my report?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      It’s best to avoid idioms and write as clearly as possible.
      Thanks!

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    • Question
      How do I write a legal report?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      A legal report typically presents a neutral assesment of the relevant facts. Include an executive summary at the top, and conclude with recommendations for further action if necessary. Back up these recommendations with facts, not opinion.
      Thanks!

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    • Question
      How do I create a report title?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      See if you teacher has specific guidelines for formatting your title. If not, center the title at the top of the page and put the text in bold or underline it.
      Thanks!

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    • Question
      Where do I put supplemental documents in my report?
      wikiHow Contributor
      Community Answer

      Attach them to the end of the report and title each one Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.
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      Tips

      • While writing, assume that your reader knows little to nothing about the subject. Add details and definitions to topics in the paper.
      • Focus on the main idea you want to convey. Make sure the idea has been established well right from the start.
      • Don’t copy anyone’s work. Not only is it saying you’re lazy, its called plagiarizing, which is illegal.
      • Be sure to rely on more than one source for your information.
      • Don’t delay your research until the last minute. Report creation takes longer than you might think, especially when you start fiddling with color, photos, borders, headings etc. and that’s only after the information has been written up properly.
      • Pick a topic you know more about.

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      References

      1. http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-i-write-a-report-for-school.htm
      2. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/658/
      3. http://traveltips.usatoday.com/eight-themes-disneyland-22045.html
      4. http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/PlanResearchPaper.html
      5. http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-i-write-a-report-for-school.htm
      6. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/658/
      7. http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist9/ppietxt1.html
      8. http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-i-write-a-report-for-school.htm
      9. http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-i-write-a-report-for-school.htm
      10. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/658/

      Article Summary X

      To write a report, choose an original topic that you’re passionate about. Once you’ve got your topic, do some research on it at the library or online. Use reputable sources like encyclopedias, scholarly journals, and government websites. When you feel like you know a lot about your topic, make an outline for your report that includes what you plan on writing about.

      Did this summary help you?

      Article Info

      Categories: Report Writing

      In other languages:

      Italiano:  Fare una Relazione , Español:  hacer un informe , Deutsch:  Eine Erörterung schreiben , Português:  Fazer um Relatório , Русский:  написать доклад , 中文:  撰写报告 , Français:  rédiger un rapport de recherche , Čeština:  Jak napsat referát , Bahasa Indonesia:  Menulis Laporan , العربية:  كتابة تقرير , हिन्दी:  रिपोर्ट लिखें , ไทย:  เขียนรายงาน , Tiếng Việt:  Viết một Báo cáo , 日本語:  レポートを書く , 한국어:  보고서 쓰는 법

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      How to write a report

      Reports generally involve presenting your investigation and analysis of information or an issue, recommending actions and making proposals.

      There are many different types of reports, including business, scientific and research reports, but the basic steps for writing them are the same. These are outlined below.

      Step 1: Decide on the ‘Terms of reference’

      Step 2: Decide on the procedure

      Step 3: Find the information

      Step 4: Decide on the structure

      Step 5: Draft the first part of your report

      Step 6: Analyse your findings and draw conclusions

      Step 7: Make recommendations

      Step 8: Draft the executive summary and table of contents

      Step 9: Compile a reference list

      Step 10: Revise your draft report

      You can also check our information on assignment writing for tips on planning, finding information, writing and reviewing your work.

      Step-by-step guide to writing an assignment

      Step 1: Decide on the ‘Terms of reference’

      To decide on the terms of reference for your report, read your instructions and any other information you’ve been given about the report, and think about the purpose of the report:

      • What is it about? 
      • What exactly is needed?
      • Why is it needed? 
      • When do I need to do it? 
      • Who is it for, or who is it aimed at?

      This will help you draft your Terms of reference.

      Step 2: Decide on the procedure

      This means planning your investigation or research, and how you’ll write the report. Ask yourself:

      • What information do I need?
      • Do I need to do any background reading?
      • What articles or documents do I need?
      • Do I need to contact the library for assistance?
      • Do I need to interview or observe people?
      • Do I have to record data?
      • How will I go about this?

      Answering these questions will help you draft the procedure section of your report, which outlines the steps you’ve taken to carry out the investigation.

      Step 3: Find the information

      The next step is to find the information you need for your report. To do this you may need to read written material, observe people or activities, and/or talk to people.

      Make sure the information you find is relevant and appropriate. Check the assessment requirements and guidelines and the marking schedule to make sure you’re on the right track. If you’re not sure how the marks will be assigned contact your lecturer.

      What you find out will form the basis, or main body, of your report – the findings.

      For more on finding information:

      Research and reading

      Steps for writing an assignment

      Step 4: Decide on the structure

      Reports generally have a similar structure, but some details may differ. How they differ usually depends on:

      • The type of report – if it is a research report, laboratory report, business report, investigative report, etc.
      • How formal the report has to be.
      • The length of the report.

      Depending on the type of report, the structure can include:

      • A title page.
      • Executive summary.
      • Contents.
      • An introduction.
      • Terms of reference.
      • Procedure.
      • Findings.
      • Conclusions.
      • Recommendations.
      • References/Bibliography.
      • Appendices.
      • The sections, of a report usually have headings and subheadings, which are usually numbered

      The basic structure of a report (PDF 262 KB; opens in a new window)

      Step 5: Draft the first part of your report

      Once you have your structure, write down the headings and start to fill these in with the information you have gathered so far. By now you should be able to draft the terms of reference, procedure and findings, and start to work out what will go in the report’s appendix.

      Findings

      The findings are result of your reading, observations, interviews and investigation. They form the basis of your report. Depending on the type of report you are writing, you may also wish to include photos, tables or graphs to make your report more readable and/or easier to follow.

      Graphs – BBC Skillwise website  (opens in a new window)

       

      Appendices

      As you are writing your draft decide what information will go in the appendix. These are used for information that:

      • is too long to include in the body of the report, or
      • supplements or complements the information in the report. For example, brochures, spreadsheets or large tables.

      Formatting and presenting your assignment

      Step 6: Analyse your findings and draw conclusions

      The conclusion is where you analyse your findings and interpret what you have found. To do this, read through your findings and ask yourself:

      • What have I found?
      • What’s significant or important about my findings?
      • What do my findings suggest?

      For example, your conclusion may describe how the information you collected explains why the situation occurred, what this means for the organisation, and what will happen if the situation continues (or doesn’t continue).

      Don’t include any new information in the conclusion.

      Step 7: Make recommendations

      Recommendations are what you think the solution to the problem is and/or what you think should happen next. To help you decide what to recommend:

      • Reread your findings and conclusions.
      • Think about what you want the person who asked for the report should to do or not do; what actions should they carry out?
      • Check that your recommendations are practical and are based logically on your conclusions.
      • Ensure you include enough detail for the reader to know what needs to be done and who should do it.

      Your recommendations should be written as a numbered list, and ordered from most to least important.

      Step 8: Draft the executive summary and table of contents

      Some reports require an executive summary and/or list of contents. Even though these two sections come near the beginning of the report you won’t be able to do them until you have finished it, and have your structure and recommendations finalised.

      An executive summary is usually about 100 words long. It tells the readers what the report is about, and summarise the recommendations.

      Step 9: Compile a reference list

      This is a list of all the sources you’ve referred to in the report and uses APA referencing.

      APA referencing

      Step 10: Revise your draft report

      It is always important to revise your work. Things you need to check include:

      • If you have done what you were asked to do. Check the assignment question, the instructions/guidelines and the marking schedule to make sure.
      • That the required sections are included, and are in the correct order. 
      • That your information is accurate, with no gaps.
      • If your argument is logical. Does the information you present support your conclusions and recommendations?
      • That all terms, symbols and abbreviations used have been explained.
      • That any diagrams, tables, graphs and illustrations are numbered and labelled.
      • That the formatting is correct, including your numbering, headings, are consistent throughout the report.
      • That the report reads well, and your writing is as clear and effective as possible.

      You might need to prepare several drafts before you are satisfied. If possible, get someone else to check your report.

      Formatting and presenting your assignment

      Sample report (PDF 278 KB; opens in a new window)

      Related information

      Step-by-step guide to writing an assignment

      What lecturers want in an assignment

      How to improve your writing

       

       

       

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