how to write a report on an essay

Ultimate Guide on How to Write a Report Tips and Sample

how to write a report on an essay

Defining a Report

A report is a type of writing that represents information, data, and research findings on a specific topic. The writer is expected to deliver a well-structured, credible, and informative text that dives into the small details of a certain topic, discussing its benefits and challenges.

Reports serve many important purposes. They provide recorded facts and findings. They are used to analyze data and draw insights that can be used for decision-making. Some reports serve as compliance checks to ensure that organizations meet certain standards and requirements. Also, reports are a formal way to communicate valuable information to decision-makers and stakeholders.

A report paper can be academic or about sales, science, business, etc. But unlike other texts, report writing takes much more than getting acquainted with the subject and forming an opinion about it. Report preparation is the most important stage of the writing process. Whether you are assigned to write an academic or a sales paper, before you start writing, you must do thorough research on the topic and ensure that every source of information is trustworthy.

Report writing has its rules. In this article, we will cover everything from how to start a report to how to format one. Below you will find a student research report sample. Check our paper writer service if you want one designed specifically for your requirements.

Student Research Report Sample

Before you read our article on how to write an act essay , see what an informative and well-structured report looks like. Below you will find a sample report that follows the format and tips we suggested in the article.

Explore and learn more about comprehensive but concise reports.

What are the Report Types

As mentioned, there are plenty of different types of report papers. Even though they are very formal, academic reports are only one of many people will come across in their lifetime. Some reports concentrate on the annual performance of a company, some on a project's progress, and others on scientific findings.

Next, we will elaborate more on different sorts of reports, their contents, and their purpose. Don't forget to also check out our report example that you can find below.

report types

Academic Reports

An academic report represents supported data and information about a particular subject. This could be a historical event, a book, or a scientific finding. The credibility of such academic writing is very important as it, in the future, could be used as a backup for dissertations, essays, and other academic work.

Students are often assigned to write reports to test their understanding of a topic. They also provide evidence of the student's ability to critically analyze and synthesize information. It also demonstrates the student's writing skills and ability to simply convey complex findings and ideas.

Remember that the report outline will affect your final grade when writing an academic report. If you want to learn about the correct report writing format, keep reading the article. If you want to save time, you can always buy essays online .

Project Reports

Every project has numerous stakeholders who like to keep an eye on how things are going. This can be challenging if the number of people who need to be kept in the loop is high. One way to ensure everyone is updated and on the same page is periodic project reports.

Project managers are often assigned to make a report for people that affect the project's fate. It is a detailed document that summarizes the work done during the project and the work that needs to be completed. It informs about deadlines and helps form coherent expectations. Previous reports can be used as a reference point as the project progresses.

Sales Reports

Sales reports are excellent ways to keep your team updated on your sales strategies. It provides significant information to stakeholders, including managers, investors, and executives, so they can make informed decisions about the direction of their business.

A sales report usually provides information about a company's sales performance over a precise period. These reports include information about the revenue generated, the total number of units sold, and other metrics that help the company define the success of sales performance.

Sales report preparation is a meticulous job. To communicate information engagingly, you can put together graphs showing various information, including engagement increase, profit margins, and more.

Business Reports

If you were assigned a business report, something tells us you are wondering how to write a report for work. Let us tell you that the strategy is not much different from writing an academic report. A Strong thesis statement, compelling storytelling, credible sources, and correct format are all that matter.

Business reports can take many forms, such as marketing reports, operational reports, market research reports, feasible studies, and more. The purpose of such report writing is to provide analysis and recommendations to support decision-making and help shape a company's future strategy.

Most business reports include charts, graphs, and other visual aids that help illustrate key points and make complex information easy to digest. 

Scientific Reports

Scientific reports present the results of scientific research or investigation to a specific audience. Unlike book reports, a scientific report is always reviewed by other experts in the field for its accuracy, quality, and relevance.

If you are a scientist or a science student, you can't escape writing a lab report. You will need to provide background information on the research topic and explain the study's purpose. A scientific report includes a discussion part where the researcher interprets the results and significance of the study.

Whether you are assigned to write medical reports or make a report about new findings in the field of physics, your writing should always have an introduction, methodology, results, conclusion, and references. These are the foundation of a well-written report.

Annual Reports

An annual report is a comprehensive piece of writing that provides information about a company's performance over a year. In its nature, it might remind us of extended financial reports.

Annual reports represent types of longer reports. They usually include an overview of a company's activities, a financial summary, detailed product and service information, and market conditions. But it's not just a report of the company's performance in the sales market, but also an overview of its social responsibility programs and sustainability activities.

The format of annual report writing depends on the company's specific requirements, the needs of its stakeholder, and the regulation of the country it's based.

Writing Reports Are Not Your Thing?

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Report Format

As we've seen throughout this article, various types of reports exist. And even though their content differs, they share one essential element: report writing format. Structure, research methods, grammar, and reference lists are equally important to different reports.

Keep in mind that while the general format is the same for every type, you still need to check the requirements of the assigned report before writing one. School reports, lab reports, and financial reports are three different types of the same category.

We are now moving on to discuss the general report format. Let's direct our attention to how to start a report.

Title : You need a comprehensive but concise title to set the right tone and make a good impression. It should be reflective of the general themes in the report.

Table of Contents : Your title page must be followed by a table of contents. We suggest writing an entire report first and creating a table of content later.

Summary : The table of contents should be followed by an executive report summary. To create a comprehensive summary, wait until you have finished writing the full report.

Introduction : A major part of the report structure is an introduction. Make sure you convey the main idea of the report in just a few words. The introduction section must also include a strong thesis statement.

Body : The central part of your work is called the report's body. Here you should present relevant information and provide supported evidence. Make sure every paragraph starts with a topic sentence. Here you can use bullet points, graphs, and other visual aids.

Conclusion : Use this part to summarize your findings and focus on the main elements and what they bring to the table. Do not introduce new ideas. Good report writing means knowing the difference between a summary and a conclusion.

Recommendations : A report is designed to help decision-makers or provide crucial information to the conversation, including a set of goals or steps that should be taken to further advance the progress.

Appendices : As a finishing touch, include a list of source materials on which you based the information and facts. If you want your report to get acknowledged, don't neglect this part of the report format.

How to Write a Report Like a PRO

Mastering the report writing format is only a fraction of the job. Writing an exceptional report takes more than just including a title page and references.

Next, we will offer report-writing tips to help you figure out how to write a report like a PRO. Meanwhile, if you need someone to review your physics homework, our physics helper is ready to take on the job.

report like a pro

Start With a Strong Thesis

A strong thesis is essential to a good paper because it sets the direction for the rest. It should provide a well-defined but short summary of the main points and arguments made in the report.

A strong thesis can help you collect your thoughts and ensure that the report has a course and a coherent structure. It will help you stay focused on key points and tie every paragraph into one entity.

A clear thesis will make your report writing sound more confident and persuasive. It will make finding supporting evidence easier, and you will be able to effectively communicate your ideas to the reader.

Use Simple Wording

Reports are there to gather and distribute as much information to as many people as possible. So, the content of it should be accessible and understandable for everyone, despite their knowledge in the field. We encourage you to use simple words instead of fancy ones when writing reports for large audiences.

Other academic papers might require you to showcase advanced language knowledge and extensive vocabulary. Still, formal reports should present information in a way that does not confuse.

If you are wondering how to make report that is easy to read and digest, try finding simpler alternatives to fancy words. For example, use 'example' instead of 'paradigm'; Use 'relevant' instead of 'pertinent'; 'Exacerbate' is a fancier way to say 'worsen,' and while it makes you look educated, it might cause confusion and make you lose the reader. Choose words that are easier to understand.

Present Only One Concept in Each Phrase

Make your reports easier to understand by presenting only one concept in each paragraph. Simple, short sentences save everyone's time and make complex concepts easier to digest and memorize. 

Report writing is not a single-use material. It will be reread and re-used many times. Someone else might use your sales report to support their financial report. So, to avoid confusion and misinterpretation, start each paragraph with a topic sentence and tie everything else into this main theme.

Only Present Reliable Facts

You might have a strong hunch about future events or outcomes, but a research report is not a place to voice them. Everything you write should be supported by undisputed evidence.

Don't forget that one of the essential report preparation steps is conducting thorough research. Limit yourself to the information which is based on credible information. Only present relevant facts to the topic and add value to your thesis.

One of our report writing tips would be to write a rough draft and eliminate all the information not supported by reliable data. Double-check the credibility of the sources before finalizing the writing process.

Incorporate Bullet Points

When writing a research report, your goal is to make the information as consumable as possible. Don't shy away from using visual aids; this will only help you connect with a wider audience.

Bullet points are a great way to simplify the reading process and draw attention to the main concepts of the report. Use this technique in the body part of the report. If you notice that you are writing related information, use bullet points to point out their relation.

Incorporating bullet points and other visual aids in your report writing format will make a report easy to comprehend and use for further research.

While you are busy coming up with effective visual aids, you may not have enough time to take care of other assignments. Simply say, ' write my argumentative essay ,' and one of our expert writers will answer your prayer.

Review the Text for Accuracy and Inconsistencies

After completing report preparation and writing, ensure you don't skip the final stage. Even the greatest writers are not immune to grammatical mistakes and factual mix-ups.

Reviewing what you wrote is just as important as the research stage. Make sure there are no inconsistencies, and everything smoothly ties into the bigger scheme of events. Look out for spelling mistakes and word count.

If you want to further advance your writing skills, read our article about how to write a cover letter for essay .

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How To Write A Report

Table of contents, content of this article.

  • How to write a good report
  • Difference from essay
  • Tips for good writing

1. How To Write A Good Report

A report is a form of writing that is systematic, organized, and often tries to define or analyze a problem or an event. The problem or event analyzed can also be within a body of literature belonging to either a single document or several documents. The sole purpose of a report is to objectively present readers with all the relevant information in relation to a particular issue. Writers are expected to shelve their personal feelings or shield themselves from issues that might render the report subjective because the use of reports is at times beyond aiming to impress the author’s readership. A report has three distinct attributes which help to distinguish it from other forms of writing.

These include:

  • Pre-defined structure.
  • The existence of Independent sections.
  • Reaching impartial and balanced conclusions.

The above makes report writing a different endeavor, but it is still a significant part of academic writing.

A report should always be:

  • Accurate (be filled with reliable information)
  • Concise (direct and to the point)
  • Clear (writers must maintain consistency and avoid being ambiguous)
  • Well-structured (writers must follow the standard structure)

Straying from the above disqualifies an author’s piece or article from being a report.

2. Report vs Essay. What is the difference

A report differs greatly from a conventional essay.

  • First of all, reports have a specific structure, and writers are always asked to adhere to it while essays follow the conventional introduction, body, and conclusion structure.
  • Reports also use different sections and these should always have subheadings. These sections serve a certain purpose within a report and cannot be left out.
  • Essays, on the other hand, do not have sections and while writers may need to have subheadings within their essays, they are not conventional.
  • The purpose of each form of writing also differs. In reports, writers aim at conveying a particular piece of information to their audience while in essays the main goal is to showcase the writer’s comprehension of the teacher’s instructions.

The above exquisitely and explicitly show the differences between essays and reports. Understanding these differences is the first step to learning how to write a report.

3. Topic selection for a report

Topic selection separates bad report writers from good report writers as well as from excellent report writers. In many instances, readers are attracted to certain documents because of their topics. Getting the right report topic is of the essence if writers are to maintain their readership. Many writers forget the issue of scope when selecting a topic. The scope is indeed an important consideration that calls for patience and careful consideration of the general subject suggested before settling on a specific report topic. Exceptional report writers understand the significance of scope and thus focus on specific aspects of a subject or topic before they decide on a topic. Writers are often advised to focus on the vitalities of a subject and only present that to their readers.

It is essential for authors to ask themselves the following questions to help in narrowing the scope of a subject:

  • What are the specific aspects of a topic that appear interesting to the writer?
  • What do you think will interest your audience/readers?
  • What information can you find regarding the selected subject?

The above questions are indeed essential and help a writer to find or settle on a topic they are familiar with and also feel strongly about. Knowing what interests the readers is of course of the essence because it gifts the writer with a sense of direction and purpose. Finally, report writing needs to be factual and well cited. It is thus important to ensure the selected topic is adequately referenced for purposes of building a credible and reliable argument .

Below are some good topics for a report:

  • Global Warming
  • Nuclear Fusion
  • The Shift to Solar Energy
  • Breast Cancer
  • US-Japan Relations since the 1945 atomic bombing
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The History of Christianity
  • History of Buddhism
  • History of Foot Binding in China
  • The Power Struggle in the East
  • Causes of the 2007/2009 Recession
  • History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

4. Typical structure of a report

As already said, a report structure is formal and must be strictly adhered to by all writers. Deviating from this structure only leads to reduced marks or a bored and angry audience.

Below are the elements that form the structure of a report:

Executive Summary/Abstract

An executive summary or an abstract mainly provides a summary of the entire report. While some writers write it immediately after commencing their report, it is always advisable to write it last. This section is of great importance and makes it easier for the readers to quickly understand the main points or the focus of the report.

A table of contents is simply a list of all the sections the writer decided to include in their report. Its sole purpose is to prepare readers for what to expect when reading the report and also to make it easier for them to access some of the sections directly.

Introduction

Like other introductions, a report introduction ushers in the readers by providing them with a brief but accurate summary of the topic or issue under study. From the introduction, readers should be able to understand the writer’s focus or perspective.

The body mainly contains the bulk of information which builds on or supports the thesis statement from the introduction. Unlike the body of essays, the body of a report can be divided into sections depending on the topic being reviewed. Some of the sections include a literature review, a methods section, a findings section, and finally a discussion of the findings section.

Conclusion and Recommendations

A report conclusion must be included, and it contains the inferences or the points the writer withdrew from the report. How to conclude a report is indeed essential because it provides writers with the opportunity of restating and insisting on their main point.

Recommendations are always included, and here the writer is expected to include their suggestions of how, for example, the investigation can be improved in the future or how a problem can be averted in the future. If in case the writer’s recommendations have financial associations, then he/she must provide estimations or the projected costs of whatever issue they were discussing in their report.

Reference list

Exceptional report writers consult journals and articles which are relevant to their topic. Later, these articles and journals need to be included under the reference list section. A reference list, therefore, contains all the materials the writer used to conduct their research.

While this is not a mandatory inclusion, it adds to one’s analysis and should hence be included whenever necessary.

Once the writer has completed the report, it is important first to review it before submitting or printing it. Proofreading the finished report is indeed essential because it helps the writer to identify some of the mistakes they could have made. For example, one could have gotten some statistical facts wrong, and it is only through proofreading that such mistakes can be identified and corrected. Grammatical errors should also be avoided, and while currently there are software varieties that can help with this, the human mind is still miles ahead, and one should identify and correct such mistakes while proofreading. Reading the report to an audience can also help a writer to avoid some mistakes while also maintaining the focus and purpose of the report. Two heads will always be better than one and consulting one’s friends or co-workers could help a writer avoid re-writing the entire report in case it is found defective later.

5. Some good tips for a report writing

Report writing tips are readily available on the Internet.

Below are some of those tips:

  • Avoid ambiguity when writing a report.
  • The use of simple language is also of great importance.
  • Clarity and accuracy are also essential.
  • Avoid guessing or using information that cannot be confirmed.
  • Use recent material as sources of one’s information.
  • Always start with a report outline and draft.

Like the tips above, report writing help can be readily found on the Internet. However, it is essential to be involved in the entire process lest one gets what they did not ask for.

how to write a report on an essay

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How to Write a Report

Last Updated: March 15, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Amy Bobinger . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 8,707,251 times.

When you’re assigned to write a report, it can seem like an intimidating process. Fortunately, if you pay close attention to the report prompt, choose a subject you like, and give yourself plenty of time to research your topic, you might actually find that it’s not so bad. After you gather your research and organize it into an outline, all that’s left is to write out your paragraphs and proofread your paper before you hand it in!

Easy Steps to Write a Report

  • Choose an interesting topic and narrow it down to a specific idea.
  • Take notes as you research your topic. Come up with a thesis, or main theme of your report, based on your research.
  • Outline the main ideas you’ll cover in your report. Then, write the first draft.

Sample Reports

how to write a report on an essay

Selecting Your Topic

Step 1 Read the report prompt or guidelines carefully.

  • The guidelines will also typically tell you the requirements for the structure and format of your report.
  • If you have any questions about the assignment, speak up as soon as possible. That way, you don’t start working on the report, only to find out you have to start over because you misunderstood the report prompt.

Step 2 Choose a topic

  • For instance, if your report is supposed to be on a historical figure, you might choose someone you find really interesting, like the first woman to be governor of a state in the U.S., or the man who invented Silly Putty.
  • If your report is about information technology , you could gather information about the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data or information.
  • Even if you don’t have the option to choose your topic, you can often find something in your research that you find interesting. If your assignment is to give a report on the historical events of the 1960s in America, for example, you could focus your report on the way popular music reflected the events that occurred during that time.

Tip: Always get approval from your teacher or boss on the topic you choose before you start working on the report!

Step 3 Try to pick a topic that is as specific as possible.

  • If you’re not sure what to write about at first, pick a larger topic, then narrow it down as you start researching.
  • For instance, if you wanted to do your report on World Fairs, then you realize that there are way too many of them to talk about, you might choose one specific world fair, such as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, to focus on.
  • However, you wouldn’t necessarily want to narrow it down to something too specific, like “Food at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” since it could be hard to find sources on the subject without just listing a lot of recipes.

Researching the Report

Step 1 Include a variety...

  • If you don’t have guidelines on how many sources to use, try to find 1-2 reputable sources for each page of the report.
  • Sources can be divided into primary sources, like original written works, court records, and interviews, and secondary sources, like reference books and reviews.
  • Databases, abstracts, and indexes are considered tertiary sources, and can be used to help you find primary and secondary sources for your report. [5] X Research source
  • If you’re writing a business report , you may be given some supplementary materials, such as market research or sales reports, or you may need to compile this information yourself. [6] X Research source

Step 2 Visit the library first if you’re writing a report for school.

  • Librarians are an excellent resource when you're working on a report. They can help you find books, articles, and other credible sources.
  • Often, a teacher will limit how many online sources you can use. If you find most of the information you need in the library, you can then use your online sources for details that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Tip: Writing a report can take longer than you think! Don't put off your research until the last minute , or it will be obvious that you didn't put much effort into the assignment.

Step 3 Use only scholarly sources if you do online research.

  • Examples of authoritative online sources include government websites, articles written by known experts, and publications in peer-reviewed journals that have been published online.

Step 4 Cross-reference your sources to find new material.

  • If you’re using a book as one of your sources, check the very back few pages. That’s often where an author will list the sources they used for their book.

Step 5 Keep thorough notes...

  • Remember to number each page of your notes, so you don’t get confused later about what information came from which source!
  • Remember, you’ll need to cite any information that you use in your report; however, exactly how you do this will depend on the format that was assigned to you.

Step 6 Use your research...

  • For most reports, your thesis statement should not contain your own opinions. However, if you're writing a persuasive report, the thesis should contain an argument that you will have to prove in the body of the essay.
  • An example of a straightforward report thesis (Thesis 1) would be: “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.”
  • A thesis for a persuasive report (Thesis 2) might say: “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.”

Step 7 Organize your notes...

  • The purpose of an outline is to help you to visualize how your essay will look. You can create a straightforward list or make a concept map , depending on what makes the most sense to you.
  • Try to organize the information from your notes so it flows together logically. For instance, it can be helpful to try to group together related items, like important events from a person’s childhood, education, and career, if you’re writing a biographical report.
  • 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.

Tip: It can help to create your outline on a computer in case you change your mind as you’re moving information around.

Writing the First Draft

Step 1 Format the report according to the guidelines you were given.

  • Try to follow any formatting instructions to the letter. If there aren't any, opt for something classic, like 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font, double-spaced lines, and 1 in (2.5 cm) margins all around.
  • You'll usually need to include a bibliography at the end of the report that lists any sources you used. You may also need a title page , which should include the title of the report, your name, the date, and the person who requested the report.
  • For some types of reports, you may also need to include a table of contents and an abstract or summary that briefly sums up what you’ve written. It’s typically easier to write these after you’ve finished your first draft. [14] X Research source

Step 2 State your thesis...

  • 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.”

Step 3 Start each paragraph in the body of the report with a topic sentence.

  • Typically, you should present the most important or compelling information first.
  • 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.

Tip: Assume that your reader knows little to nothing about the subject. Support your facts with plenty of details and include definitions if you use technical terms or jargon in the paper.

Step 4 Support each topic sentence with evidence from your research.

  • Paraphrasing means restating the original author's ideas in your own words. On the other hand, a direct quote means using the exact words from the original source in quotation marks, with the author cited.
  • 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.
  • Use your sources to support your topic, but don't plagiarize . Always restate the information in your own words. In most cases, you'll get in serious trouble if you just copy from your sources word-for-word. Also, be sure to cite each source as you use it, according to the formatting guidelines you were given. [18] X Research source

Step 5 Follow your evidence with commentary explaining why it links to your thesis.

  • Your commentary needs to be at least 1-2 sentences long. For a longer report, you may write more sentences for each piece of commentary.

Step 6 Summarize your research...

  • Avoid presenting any new information in the conclusion. You don’t want this to be a “Gotcha!” moment. Instead, it should be a strong summary of everything you’ve already told the reader.

Revising Your Report

Step 1 Scan the report to make sure everything is included and makes sense.

  • A good question to ask yourself is, “If I were someone reading this report for the first time, would I feel like I understood the topic after I finished reading?

Tip: If you have time before the deadline, set the report aside for a few days . Then, come back and read it again. This can help you catch errors you might otherwise have missed.

Step 2 Check carefully for proofreading errors.

  • Try reading the report to yourself out loud. Hearing the words can help you catch awkward language or run-on sentences you might not catch by reading it silently.

Step 3 Read each sentence from the end to the beginning.

  • This is a great trick to find spelling errors or grammatical mistakes that your eye would otherwise just scan over.

Step 4 Have someone else proofread it for you.

  • Ask your helper questions like, “Do you understand what I am saying in my report?” “Is there anything you think I should take out or add?” And “Is there anything you would change?”

Step 5 Compare your report to the assignment requirements to ensure it meets expectations.

  • If you have any questions about the assignment requirements, ask your instructor. It's important to know how they'll be grading your assignment.

Expert Q&A

Emily Listmann, MA

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  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/5-most-effective-methods-for-avoiding-plagiarism/
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/using-evidence.html
  • ↑ https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/writing-report
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/grammarpunct/proofreading/
  • ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-12-peer-review-and-final-revisions/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

It can seem really hard to write a report, but it will be easier if you choose an original topic that you're passionate about. Once you've got your topic, do some research on it at the library and online, using reputable sources like encyclopedias, scholarly journals, and government websites. Use your research write a thesis statement that sums up the focus of your paper, then organize your notes into an outline that supports that thesis statement. Finally, expand that outline into paragraph form. Read on for tips from our Education co-author on how to format your report! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Some academic assignments ask for a ‘report’, rather than an essay, and students are often confused about what that really means.

Likewise, in business, confronted with a request for a ‘report’ to a senior manager, many people struggle to know what to write.

Confusion often arises about the writing style, what to include, the language to use, the length of the document and other factors.

This page aims to disentangle some of these elements, and provide you with some advice designed to help you to write a good report.

What is a Report?

In academia there is some overlap between reports and essays, and the two words are sometimes used interchangeably, but reports are more likely to be needed for business, scientific and technical subjects, and in the workplace.

Whereas an essay presents arguments and reasoning, a report concentrates on facts.

Essentially, a report is a short, sharp, concise document which is written for a particular purpose and audience. It generally sets outs and analyses a situation or problem, often making recommendations for future action. It is a factual paper, and needs to be clear and well-structured.

Requirements for the precise form and content of a report will vary between organisation and departments and in study between courses, from tutor to tutor, as well as between subjects, so it’s worth finding out if there are any specific guidelines before you start.

Reports may contain some or all of the following elements:

  • A description of a sequence of events or a situation;
  • Some interpretation of the significance of these events or situation, whether solely your own analysis or informed by the views of others, always carefully referenced of course (see our page on Academic Referencing for more information);
  • An evaluation of the facts or the results of your research;
  • Discussion of the likely outcomes of future courses of action;
  • Your recommendations as to a course of action; and
  • Conclusions.

Not all of these elements will be essential in every report.

If you’re writing a report in the workplace, check whether there are any standard guidelines or structure that you need to use.

For example, in the UK many government departments have outline structures for reports to ministers that must be followed exactly.

Sections and Numbering

A report is designed to lead people through the information in a structured way, but also to enable them to find the information that they want quickly and easily.

Reports usually, therefore, have numbered sections and subsections, and a clear and full contents page listing each heading. It follows that page numbering is important.

Modern word processors have features to add tables of contents (ToC) and page numbers as well as styled headings; you should take advantage of these as they update automatically as you edit your report, moving, adding or deleting sections.

Report Writing

Getting started: prior preparation and planning.

The structure of a report is very important to lead the reader through your thinking to a course of action and/or decision. It’s worth taking a bit of time to plan it out beforehand.

Step 1: Know your brief

You will usually receive a clear brief for a report, including what you are studying and for whom the report should be prepared.

First of all, consider your brief very carefully and make sure that you are clear who the report is for (if you're a student then not just your tutor, but who it is supposed to be written for), and why you are writing it, as well as what you want the reader to do at the end of reading: make a decision or agree a recommendation, perhaps.

Step 2: Keep your brief in mind at all times

During your planning and writing, make sure that you keep your brief in mind: who are you writing for, and why are you writing?

All your thinking needs to be focused on that, which may require you to be ruthless in your reading and thinking. Anything irrelevant should be discarded.

As you read and research, try to organise your work into sections by theme, a bit like writing a Literature Review .

Make sure that you keep track of your references, especially for academic work. Although referencing is perhaps less important in the workplace, it’s also important that you can substantiate any assertions that you make so it’s helpful to keep track of your sources of information.

The Structure of a Report

Like the precise content, requirements for structure vary, so do check what’s set out in any guidance.

However, as a rough guide, you should plan to include at the very least an executive summary, introduction, the main body of your report, and a section containing your conclusions and any recommendations.

Executive Summary

The executive summary or abstract , for a scientific report, is a brief summary of the contents. It’s worth writing this last, when you know the key points to draw out. It should be no more than half a page to a page in length.

Remember the executive summary is designed to give busy 'executives' a quick summary of the contents of the report.

Introduction

The introduction sets out what you plan to say and provides a brief summary of the problem under discussion. It should also touch briefly on your conclusions.

Report Main Body

The main body of the report should be carefully structured in a way that leads the reader through the issue.

You should split it into sections using numbered sub-headings relating to themes or areas for consideration. For each theme, you should aim to set out clearly and concisely the main issue under discussion and any areas of difficulty or disagreement. It may also include experimental results. All the information that you present should be related back to the brief and the precise subject under discussion.

If it’s not relevant, leave it out.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The conclusion sets out what inferences you draw from the information, including any experimental results. It may include recommendations, or these may be included in a separate section.

Recommendations suggest how you think the situation could be improved, and should be specific, achievable and measurable. If your recommendations have financial implications, you should set these out clearly, with estimated costs if possible.

A Word on Writing Style

When writing a report, your aim should be to be absolutely clear. Above all, it should be easy to read and understand, even to someone with little knowledge of the subject area.

You should therefore aim for crisp, precise text, using plain English, and shorter words rather than longer, with short sentences.

You should also avoid jargon. If you have to use specialist language, you should explain each word as you use it. If you find that you’ve had to explain more than about five words, you’re probably using too much jargon, and need to replace some of it with simpler words.

Consider your audience. If the report is designed to be written for a particular person, check whether you should be writing it to ‘you’ or perhaps in the third person to a job role: ‘The Chief Executive may like to consider…’, or ‘The minister is recommended to agree…’, for example.

A Final Warning

As with any academic assignment or formal piece of writing, your work will benefit from being read over again and edited ruthlessly for sense and style.

Pay particular attention to whether all the information that you have included is relevant. Also remember to check tenses, which person you have written in, grammar and spelling. It’s also worth one last check against any requirements on structure.

For an academic assignment, make sure that you have referenced fully and correctly. As always, check that you have not inadvertently or deliberately plagiarised or copied anything without acknowledging it.

Finally, ask yourself:

“Does my report fulfil its purpose?”

Only if the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ should you send it off to its intended recipient.

Continue to: How to Write a Business Case Planning an Essay

See also: Business Writing Tips Study Skills Writing a Dissertation or Thesis

8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report

Learning outcomes.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify the elements of the rhetorical situation for your report.
  • Find and focus a topic to write about.
  • Gather and analyze information from appropriate sources.
  • Distinguish among different kinds of evidence.
  • Draft a thesis and create an organizational plan.
  • Compose a report that develops ideas and integrates evidence from sources.
  • Give and act on productive feedback to works in progress.

You might think that writing comes easily to experienced writers—that they draft stories and college papers all at once, sitting down at the computer and having sentences flow from their fingers like water from a faucet. In reality, most writers engage in a recursive process, pushing forward, stepping back, and repeating steps multiple times as their ideas develop and change. In broad strokes, the steps most writers go through are these:

  • Planning and Organization . You will have an easier time drafting if you devote time at the beginning to consider the rhetorical situation for your report, understand your assignment, gather ideas and information, draft a thesis statement, and create an organizational plan.
  • Drafting . When you have an idea of what you want to say and the order in which you want to say it, you’re ready to draft. As much as possible, keep going until you have a complete first draft of your report, resisting the urge to go back and rewrite. Save that for after you have completed a first draft.
  • Review . Now is the time to get feedback from others, whether from your instructor, your classmates, a tutor in the writing center, your roommate, someone in your family, or someone else you trust to read your writing critically and give you honest feedback.
  • Revising . With feedback on your draft, you are ready to revise. You may need to return to an earlier step and make large-scale revisions that involve planning, organizing, and rewriting, or you may need to work mostly on ensuring that your sentences are clear and correct.

Considering the Rhetorical Situation

Like other kinds of writing projects, a report starts with assessing the rhetorical situation —the circumstance in which a writer communicates with an audience of readers about a subject. As the writer of a report, you make choices based on the purpose of your writing, the audience who will read it, the genre of the report, and the expectations of the community and culture in which you are working. A graphic organizer like Table 8.1 can help you begin.

Summary of Assignment

Write an analytical report on a topic that interests you and that you want to know more about. The topic can be contemporary or historical, but it must be one that you can analyze and support with evidence from sources.

The following questions can help you think about a topic suitable for analysis:

  • Why or how did ________ happen?
  • What are the results or effects of ________?
  • Is ________ a problem? If so, why?
  • What are examples of ________ or reasons for ________?
  • How does ________ compare to or contrast with other issues, concerns, or things?

Consult and cite three to five reliable sources. The sources do not have to be scholarly for this assignment, but they must be credible, trustworthy, and unbiased. Possible sources include academic journals, newspapers, magazines, reputable websites, government publications or agency websites, and visual sources such as TED Talks. You may also use the results of an experiment or survey, and you may want to conduct interviews.

Consider whether visuals and media will enhance your report. Can you present data you collect visually? Would a map, photograph, chart, or other graphic provide interesting and relevant support? Would video or audio allow you to present evidence that you would otherwise need to describe in words?

Another Lens. To gain another analytic view on the topic of your report, consider different people affected by it. Say, for example, that you have decided to report on recent high school graduates and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the final months of their senior year. If you are a recent high school graduate, you might naturally gravitate toward writing about yourself and your peers. But you might also consider the adults in the lives of recent high school graduates—for example, teachers, parents, or grandparents—and how they view the same period. Or you might consider the same topic from the perspective of a college admissions department looking at their incoming freshman class.

Quick Launch: Finding and Focusing a Topic

Coming up with a topic for a report can be daunting because you can report on nearly anything. The topic can easily get too broad, trapping you in the realm of generalizations. The trick is to find a topic that interests you and focus on an angle you can analyze in order to say something significant about it. You can use a graphic organizer to generate ideas, or you can use a concept map similar to the one featured in Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text.”

Asking the Journalist’s Questions

One way to generate ideas about a topic is to ask the five W (and one H) questions, also called the journalist’s questions : Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Try answering the following questions to explore a topic:

Who was or is involved in ________?

What happened/is happening with ________? What were/are the results of ________?

When did ________ happen? Is ________ happening now?

Where did ________ happen, or where is ________ happening?

Why did ________ happen, or why is ________ happening now?

How did ________ happen?

For example, imagine that you have decided to write your analytical report on the effect of the COVID-19 shutdown on high-school students by interviewing students on your college campus. Your questions and answers might look something like those in Table 8.2 :

Asking Focused Questions

Another way to find a topic is to ask focused questions about it. For example, you might ask the following questions about the effect of the 2020 pandemic shutdown on recent high school graduates:

  • How did the shutdown change students’ feelings about their senior year?
  • How did the shutdown affect their decisions about post-graduation plans, such as work or going to college?
  • How did the shutdown affect their academic performance in high school or in college?
  • How did/do they feel about continuing their education?
  • How did the shutdown affect their social relationships?

Any of these questions might be developed into a thesis for an analytical report. Table 8.3 shows more examples of broad topics and focusing questions.

Gathering Information

Because they are based on information and evidence, most analytical reports require you to do at least some research. Depending on your assignment, you may be able to find reliable information online, or you may need to do primary research by conducting an experiment, a survey, or interviews. For example, if you live among students in their late teens and early twenties, consider what they can tell you about their lives that you might be able to analyze. Returning to or graduating from high school, starting college, or returning to college in the midst of a global pandemic has provided them, for better or worse, with educational and social experiences that are shared widely by people their age and very different from the experiences older adults had at the same age.

Some report assignments will require you to do formal research, an activity that involves finding sources and evaluating them for reliability, reading them carefully, taking notes, and citing all words you quote and ideas you borrow. See Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information and Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources for detailed instruction on conducting research.

Whether you conduct in-depth research or not, keep track of the ideas that come to you and the information you learn. You can write or dictate notes using an app on your phone or computer, or you can jot notes in a journal if you prefer pen and paper. Then, when you are ready to begin organizing your report, you will have a record of your thoughts and information. Always track the sources of information you gather, whether from printed or digital material or from a person you interviewed, so that you can return to the sources if you need more information. And always credit the sources in your report.

Kinds of Evidence

Depending on your assignment and the topic of your report, certain kinds of evidence may be more effective than others. Other kinds of evidence may even be required. As a general rule, choose evidence that is rooted in verifiable facts and experience. In addition, select the evidence that best supports the topic and your approach to the topic, be sure the evidence meets your instructor’s requirements, and cite any evidence you use that comes from a source. The following list contains different kinds of frequently used evidence and an example of each.

Definition : An explanation of a key word, idea, or concept.

The U.S. Census Bureau refers to a “young adult” as a person between 18 and 34 years old.

Example : An illustration of an idea or concept.

The college experience in the fall of 2020 was starkly different from that of previous years. Students who lived in residence halls were assigned to small pods. On-campus dining services were limited. Classes were small and physically distanced or conducted online. Parties were banned.

Expert opinion : A statement by a professional in the field whose opinion is respected.

According to Louise Aronson, MD, geriatrician and author of Elderhood , people over the age of 65 are the happiest of any age group, reporting “less stress, depression, worry, and anger, and more enjoyment, happiness, and satisfaction” (255).

Fact : Information that can be proven correct or accurate.

According to data collected by the NCAA, the academic success of Division I college athletes between 2015 and 2019 was consistently high (Hosick).

Interview : An in-person, phone, or remote conversation that involves an interviewer posing questions to another person or people.

During our interview, I asked Betty about living without a cell phone during the pandemic. She said that before the pandemic, she hadn’t needed a cell phone in her daily activities, but she soon realized that she, and people like her, were increasingly at a disadvantage.

Quotation : The exact words of an author or a speaker.

In response to whether she thought she needed a cell phone, Betty said, “I got along just fine without a cell phone when I could go everywhere in person. The shift to needing a phone came suddenly, and I don’t have extra money in my budget to get one.”

Statistics : A numerical fact or item of data.

The Pew Research Center reported that approximately 25 percent of Hispanic Americans and 17 percent of Black Americans relied on smartphones for online access, compared with 12 percent of White people.

Survey : A structured interview in which respondents (the people who answer the survey questions) are all asked the same questions, either in person or through print or electronic means, and their answers tabulated and interpreted. Surveys discover attitudes, beliefs, or habits of the general public or segments of the population.

A survey of 3,000 mobile phone users in October 2020 showed that 54 percent of respondents used their phones for messaging, while 40 percent used their phones for calls (Steele).

  • Visuals : Graphs, figures, tables, photographs and other images, diagrams, charts, maps, videos, and audio recordings, among others.

Thesis and Organization

Drafting a thesis.

When you have a grasp of your topic, move on to the next phase: drafting a thesis. The thesis is the central idea that you will explore and support in your report; all paragraphs in your report should relate to it. In an essay-style analytical report, you will likely express this main idea in a thesis statement of one or two sentences toward the end of the introduction.

For example, if you found that the academic performance of student athletes was higher than that of non-athletes, you might write the following thesis statement:

student sample text Although a common stereotype is that college athletes barely pass their classes, an analysis of athletes’ academic performance indicates that athletes drop fewer classes, earn higher grades, and are more likely to be on track to graduate in four years when compared with their non-athlete peers. end student sample text

The thesis statement often previews the organization of your writing. For example, in his report on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Trevor Garcia wrote the following thesis statement, which detailed the central idea of his report:

student sample text An examination of the U.S. response shows that a reduction of experts in key positions and programs, inaction that led to equipment shortages, and inconsistent policies were three major causes of the spread of the virus and the resulting deaths. end student sample text

After you draft a thesis statement, ask these questions, and examine your thesis as you answer them. Revise your draft as needed.

  • Is it interesting? A thesis for a report should answer a question that is worth asking and piques curiosity.
  • Is it precise and specific? If you are interested in reducing pollution in a nearby lake, explain how to stop the zebra mussel infestation or reduce the frequent algae blooms.
  • Is it manageable? Try to split the difference between having too much information and not having enough.

Organizing Your Ideas

As a next step, organize the points you want to make in your report and the evidence to support them. Use an outline, a diagram, or another organizational tool, such as Table 8.4 .

Drafting an Analytical Report

With a tentative thesis, an organization plan, and evidence, you are ready to begin drafting. For this assignment, you will report information, analyze it, and draw conclusions about the cause of something, the effect of something, or the similarities and differences between two different things.

Introduction

Some students write the introduction first; others save it for last. Whenever you choose to write the introduction, use it to draw readers into your report. Make the topic of your report clear, and be concise and sincere. End the introduction with your thesis statement. Depending on your topic and the type of report, you can write an effective introduction in several ways. Opening a report with an overview is a tried-and-true strategy, as shown in the following example on the U.S. response to COVID-19 by Trevor Garcia. Notice how he opens the introduction with statistics and a comparison and follows it with a question that leads to the thesis statement (underlined).

student sample text With more than 83 million cases and 1.8 million deaths at the end of 2020, COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. By the end of 2020, the United States led the world in the number of cases, at more than 20 million infections and nearly 350,000 deaths. In comparison, the second-highest number of cases was in India, which at the end of 2020 had less than half the number of COVID-19 cases despite having a population four times greater than the U.S. (“COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic,” 2021). How did the United States come to have the world’s worst record in this pandemic? underline An examination of the U.S. response shows that a reduction of experts in key positions and programs, inaction that led to equipment shortages, and inconsistent policies were three major causes of the spread of the virus and the resulting deaths end underline . end student sample text

For a less formal report, you might want to open with a question, quotation, or brief story. The following example opens with an anecdote that leads to the thesis statement (underlined).

student sample text Betty stood outside the salon, wondering how to get in. It was June of 2020, and the door was locked. A sign posted on the door provided a phone number for her to call to be let in, but at 81, Betty had lived her life without a cell phone. Betty’s day-to-day life had been hard during the pandemic, but she had planned for this haircut and was looking forward to it; she had a mask on and hand sanitizer in her car. Now she couldn’t get in the door, and she was discouraged. In that moment, Betty realized how much Americans’ dependence on cell phones had grown in the months since the pandemic began. underline Betty and thousands of other senior citizens who could not afford cell phones or did not have the technological skills and support they needed were being left behind in a society that was increasingly reliant on technology end underline . end student sample text

Body Paragraphs: Point, Evidence, Analysis

Use the body paragraphs of your report to present evidence that supports your thesis. A reliable pattern to keep in mind for developing the body paragraphs of a report is point , evidence , and analysis :

  • The point is the central idea of the paragraph, usually given in a topic sentence stated in your own words at or toward the beginning of the paragraph. Each topic sentence should relate to the thesis.
  • The evidence you provide develops the paragraph and supports the point made in the topic sentence. Include details, examples, quotations, paraphrases, and summaries from sources if you conducted formal research. Synthesize the evidence you include by showing in your sentences the connections between sources.
  • The analysis comes at the end of the paragraph. In your own words, draw a conclusion about the evidence you have provided and how it relates to the topic sentence.

The paragraph below illustrates the point, evidence, and analysis pattern. Drawn from a report about concussions among football players, the paragraph opens with a topic sentence about the NCAA and NFL and their responses to studies about concussions. The paragraph is developed with evidence from three sources. It concludes with a statement about helmets and players’ safety.

student sample text The NCAA and NFL have taken steps forward and backward to respond to studies about the danger of concussions among players. Responding to the deaths of athletes, documented brain damage, lawsuits, and public outcry (Buckley et al., 2017), the NCAA instituted protocols to reduce potentially dangerous hits during football games and to diagnose traumatic head injuries more quickly and effectively. Still, it has allowed players to wear more than one style of helmet during a season, raising the risk of injury because of imperfect fit. At the professional level, the NFL developed a helmet-rating system in 2011 in an effort to reduce concussions, but it continued to allow players to wear helmets with a wide range of safety ratings. The NFL’s decision created an opportunity for researchers to look at the relationship between helmet safety ratings and concussions. Cocello et al. (2016) reported that players who wore helmets with a lower safety rating had more concussions than players who wore helmets with a higher safety rating, and they concluded that safer helmets are a key factor in reducing concussions. end student sample text

Developing Paragraph Content

In the body paragraphs of your report, you will likely use examples, draw comparisons, show contrasts, or analyze causes and effects to develop your topic.

Paragraphs developed with Example are common in reports. The paragraph below, adapted from a report by student John Zwick on the mental health of soldiers deployed during wartime, draws examples from three sources.

student sample text Throughout the Vietnam War, military leaders claimed that the mental health of soldiers was stable and that men who suffered from combat fatigue, now known as PTSD, were getting the help they needed. For example, the New York Times (1966) quoted military leaders who claimed that mental fatigue among enlisted men had “virtually ceased to be a problem,” occurring at a rate far below that of World War II. Ayres (1969) reported that Brigadier General Spurgeon Neel, chief American medical officer in Vietnam, explained that soldiers experiencing combat fatigue were admitted to the psychiatric ward, sedated for up to 36 hours, and given a counseling session with a doctor who reassured them that the rest was well deserved and that they were ready to return to their units. Although experts outside the military saw profound damage to soldiers’ psyches when they returned home (Halloran, 1970), the military stayed the course, treating acute cases expediently and showing little concern for the cumulative effect of combat stress on individual soldiers. end student sample text

When you analyze causes and effects , you explain the reasons that certain things happened and/or their results. The report by Trevor Garcia on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is an example: his report examines the reasons the United States failed to control the coronavirus. The paragraph below, adapted from another student’s report written for an environmental policy course, explains the effect of white settlers’ views of forest management on New England.

student sample text The early colonists’ European ideas about forest management dramatically changed the New England landscape. White settlers saw the New World as virgin, unused land, even though indigenous people had been drawing on its resources for generations by using fire subtly to improve hunting, employing construction techniques that left ancient trees intact, and farming small, efficient fields that left the surrounding landscape largely unaltered. White settlers’ desire to develop wood-built and wood-burning homesteads surrounded by large farm fields led to forestry practices and techniques that resulted in the removal of old-growth trees. These practices defined the way the forests look today. end student sample text

Compare and contrast paragraphs are useful when you wish to examine similarities and differences. You can use both comparison and contrast in a single paragraph, or you can use one or the other. The paragraph below, adapted from a student report on the rise of populist politicians, compares the rhetorical styles of populist politicians Huey Long and Donald Trump.

student sample text A key similarity among populist politicians is their rejection of carefully crafted sound bites and erudite vocabulary typically associated with candidates for high office. Huey Long and Donald Trump are two examples. When he ran for president, Long captured attention through his wild gesticulations on almost every word, dramatically varying volume, and heavily accented, folksy expressions, such as “The only way to be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain’t got no business with!” In addition, Long’s down-home persona made him a credible voice to represent the common people against the country’s rich, and his buffoonish style allowed him to express his radical ideas without sounding anti-communist alarm bells. Similarly, Donald Trump chose to speak informally in his campaign appearances, but the persona he projected was that of a fast-talking, domineering salesman. His frequent use of personal anecdotes, rhetorical questions, brief asides, jokes, personal attacks, and false claims made his speeches disjointed, but they gave the feeling of a running conversation between him and his audience. For example, in a 2015 speech, Trump said, “They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don’t have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken” (“Our Country Needs” 2020). While very different in substance, Long and Trump adopted similar styles that positioned them as the antithesis of typical politicians and their worldviews. end student sample text

The conclusion should draw the threads of your report together and make its significance clear to readers. You may wish to review the introduction, restate the thesis, recommend a course of action, point to the future, or use some combination of these. Whichever way you approach it, the conclusion should not head in a new direction. The following example is the conclusion from a student’s report on the effect of a book about environmental movements in the United States.

student sample text Since its publication in 1949, environmental activists of various movements have found wisdom and inspiration in Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac . These audiences included Leopold’s conservationist contemporaries, environmentalists of the 1960s and 1970s, and the environmental justice activists who rose in the 1980s and continue to make their voices heard today. These audiences have read the work differently: conservationists looked to the author as a leader, environmentalists applied his wisdom to their movement, and environmental justice advocates have pointed out the flaws in Leopold’s thinking. Even so, like those before them, environmental justice activists recognize the book’s value as a testament to taking the long view and eliminating biases that may cloud an objective assessment of humanity’s interdependent relationship with the environment. end student sample text

Citing Sources

You must cite the sources of information and data included in your report. Citations must appear in both the text and a bibliography at the end of the report.

The sample paragraphs in the previous section include examples of in-text citation using APA documentation style. Trevor Garcia’s report on the U.S. response to COVID-19 in 2020 also uses APA documentation style for citations in the text of the report and the list of references at the end. Your instructor may require another documentation style, such as MLA or Chicago.

Peer Review: Getting Feedback from Readers

You will likely engage in peer review with other students in your class by sharing drafts and providing feedback to help spot strengths and weaknesses in your reports. For peer review within a class, your instructor may provide assignment-specific questions or a form for you to complete as you work together.

If you have a writing center on your campus, it is well worth your time to make an online or in-person appointment with a tutor. You’ll receive valuable feedback and improve your ability to review not only your report but your overall writing.

Another way to receive feedback on your report is to ask a friend or family member to read your draft. Provide a list of questions or a form such as the one in Table 8.5 for them to complete as they read.

Revising: Using Reviewers’ Responses to Revise your Work

When you receive comments from readers, including your instructor, read each comment carefully to understand what is being asked. Try not to get defensive, even though this response is completely natural. Remember that readers are like coaches who want you to succeed. They are looking at your writing from outside your own head, and they can identify strengths and weaknesses that you may not have noticed. Keep track of the strengths and weaknesses your readers point out. Pay special attention to those that more than one reader identifies, and use this information to improve your report and later assignments.

As you analyze each response, be open to suggestions for improvement, and be willing to make significant revisions to improve your writing. Perhaps you need to revise your thesis statement to better reflect the content of your draft. Maybe you need to return to your sources to better understand a point you’re trying to make in order to develop a paragraph more fully. Perhaps you need to rethink the organization, move paragraphs around, and add transition sentences.

Below is an early draft of part of Trevor Garcia’s report with comments from a peer reviewer:

student sample text To truly understand what happened, it’s important first to look back to the years leading up to the pandemic. Epidemiologists and public health officials had long known that a global pandemic was possible. In 2016, the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) published a 69-page document with the intimidating title Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents . The document’s two sections address responses to “emerging disease threats that start or are circulating in another country but not yet confirmed within U.S. territorial borders” and to “emerging disease threats within our nation’s borders.” On 13 January 2017, the joint Obama-Trump transition teams performed a pandemic preparedness exercise; however, the playbook was never adopted by the incoming administration. end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: Do the words in quotation marks need to be a direct quotation? It seems like a paraphrase would work here. end annotated text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: I’m getting lost in the details about the playbook. What’s the Obama-Trump transition team? end annotated text

student sample text In February 2018, the administration began to cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; cuts to other health agencies continued throughout 2018, with funds diverted to unrelated projects such as housing for detained immigrant children. end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: This paragraph has only one sentence, and it’s more like an example. It needs a topic sentence and more development. end annotated text

student sample text Three months later, Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the NSC, spoke at a symposium marking the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic. “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” she said. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.” end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: This paragraph is very short and a lot like the previous paragraph in that it’s a single example. It needs a topic sentence. Maybe you can combine them? end annotated text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: Be sure to cite the quotation. end annotated text

Reading these comments and those of others, Trevor decided to combine the three short paragraphs into one paragraph focusing on the fact that the United States knew a pandemic was possible but was unprepared for it. He developed the paragraph, using the short paragraphs as evidence and connecting the sentences and evidence with transitional words and phrases. Finally, he added in-text citations in APA documentation style to credit his sources. The revised paragraph is below:

student sample text Epidemiologists and public health officials in the United States had long known that a global pandemic was possible. In 2016, the National Security Council (NSC) published Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents , a 69-page document on responding to diseases spreading within and outside of the United States. On January 13, 2017, the joint transition teams of outgoing president Barack Obama and then president-elect Donald Trump performed a pandemic preparedness exercise based on the playbook; however, it was never adopted by the incoming administration (Goodman & Schulkin, 2020). A year later, in February 2018, the Trump administration began to cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaving key positions unfilled. Other individuals who were fired or resigned in 2018 were the homeland security adviser, whose portfolio included global pandemics; the director for medical and biodefense preparedness; and the top official in charge of a pandemic response. None of them were replaced, leaving the White House with no senior person who had experience in public health (Goodman & Schulkin, 2020). Experts voiced concerns, among them Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the NSC, who spoke at a symposium marking the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic in May 2018: “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” she said. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no” (Sun, 2018, final para.). end student sample text

A final word on working with reviewers’ comments: as you consider your readers’ suggestions, remember, too, that you remain the author. You are free to disregard suggestions that you think will not improve your writing. If you choose to disregard comments from your instructor, consider submitting a note explaining your reasons with the final draft of your report.

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How To Write A Report For A Formal Or Academic Occasion?

how-to-write-report

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.

Academic Report

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.

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.

Report Structure

To write an effective report, you must choose and maintain a certain structure. Check out the correct way to structure your paper.

Executive Summary

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.

Body Paragraphs

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:

  • Introduction
  • 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
  • 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.

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how to write a report

How to Write a Report: Essential Guidelines to Follow

Did you know that the world's oldest surviving report is believed to be the 'Nabonidus Chronicle,' an ancient Babylonian text dating back over 2,500 years? This intriguing document recounts the reign of King Nabonidus and his activities during his time on the throne. From these ancient origins to the modern-day, report writing has evolved into a powerful means of conveying information and analysis across various fields. Whether you're investigating scientific discoveries, analyzing market trends, or presenting research findings, the art of report writing empowers you to share your insights with clarity and precision.

How to Write a Report: Short Description

Writing a report requires a structured approach, attention to detail, and a clear understanding of the topic at hand. These are skills that will not only serve you well in academia but also in applying for scholarships, which often require you to articulate your thoughts clearly and persuasively. As a high school senior, this is the opportune moment to leverage your honed writing skills to secure financial aid for your upcoming college journey. There are numerous scholarships available, each with its unique criteria and expectations. To ease your transition into higher education, we've compiled a list of the best scholarships for high school seniors , to help you find the right fit. As you delve into the intricacies of report writing, remember that the skills you are nurturing now can pave the way to substantial scholarship awards, alleviating financial strains and propelling you closer to your academic aspirations.

Throughout this article, we'll equip you with the skills to craft impactful reports for any setting – be it academic, professional, or research-oriented. You'll learn about the proper report outline and format, ensuring your work is well-structured and easy to follow. But that's not all! We'll provide practical examples, giving you real-world insights into how report writing applies across various fields. Plus, we'll share invaluable tips and best practices to enhance your overall report writing process.

How to Write a Report with a Proper Report Format

A well-structured report format is essential for conveying information clearly and concisely. Whether you're preparing an academic report, a business analysis, or a research document, following a proper format ensures that your content is organized and easy to understand. In this guide, we'll outline the key elements of a standard format and provide report example cases to illustrate each section effectively.

how to write a report on an essay

The title page is the cover of your report and includes essential details such as the report's title, your name, the date of submission, and the name of the organization or institution you are associated with. For example:

Monthly Sales Report

Date: July 28, 2023

XYZ Corporation

Table of Contents

To make a report, the table of contents is a helpful navigation tool. It provides an overview of the report structure and page numbers for each section. It also enables readers to quickly locate specific information within the report. Here's how it looks:

1. Introduction............................3

2. Methodology............................5

3. Findings...................................8

3.1 Sales Analysis..................8

3.2 Customer Survey...........12

4. Conclusion..............................15

5. Recommendations............17

Executive Summary

The executive summary is a concise overview of the entire report, providing key findings, conclusions, and recommendations. It is usually placed at the beginning to give readers a snapshot of the main points without delving into the details. For instance:

‘This monthly sales report analyzes the performance of XYZ Corporation during July 2023. Sales experienced a 15% increase compared to the previous month, largely attributed to the successful launch of a new product line. Based on the findings, this report recommends focusing on targeted marketing strategies to sustain this growth in the upcoming quarter.’

Introduction

The introduction sets the context for the report and outlines its purpose, objectives, and scope. It provides readers with a clear understanding of what to expect from the report. For example:

‘This report presents an analysis of the sales performance of XYZ Corporation during the month of July 2023. The primary goal is to identify the factors contributing to the increase in sales and propose actionable recommendations to sustain this positive momentum in the future.’

Methodology

The methodology section explains the approach and techniques used to gather data and conduct the analysis. It ensures transparency and allows readers to assess the reliability of the findings. Here's an example:

‘Data for this report was collected through sales records, customer surveys, and market research. A combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis was employed to identify trends and customer preferences affecting sales growth during the specified period.’

In this section, present the results of your analysis and any relevant data in a clear and organized manner. You can use subsections to divide different aspects of your findings. For instance:

3.1 Sales Analysis

- Overall Sales Growth: 15%

- Top-Selling Products: Product A, Product B

- Sales by Region:

- Region 1: 20% growth

- Region 2: 12% growth

- Region 3: 8% growth

3.2 Customer Survey

- Customer Satisfaction: 87%

- Preferred Payment Method: Credit Card (68%), Online Banking (22%), Cash (10%)

- Customer Feedback: Positive response to new product features and customer service improvements.

In the conclusion, summarize the key findings from the report and highlight their significance. Provide a clear and concise overview of the main takeaways. For example:

‘The sales analysis reveals a notable growth of 15% during July 2023, driven by the successful introduction of new product features and improvements in customer service. Understanding customer preferences and targeted marketing strategies will be crucial for sustaining this growth in the upcoming quarter.’

Recommendations

In this final section of the report writing format, offer actionable recommendations based on your findings. Address specific areas for improvement and suggest measures to enhance performance. Here's an example:

1. Launch Targeted Marketing Campaigns : Focus on promoting the top-selling products, particularly Product A and Product B, to boost sales in the following months.

2. Enhance Customer Service : Continuously improve customer service based on the positive feedback received, ensuring a high level of customer satisfaction.

3. Conduct Regular Market Research : Stay informed about changing customer preferences and market trends to adapt and innovate as necessary.

How to Start a Report: Your 5-Step Writing Blueprint

With the following five crucial steps, you'll be well-equipped to write reports with confidence and finesse. From defining your purpose to crafting an engaging introduction, let's unlock the secrets to captivating your audience and leaving them eager for more:

Step 1: Define Your Purpose - Begin by clearly understanding the purpose of your report. Are you presenting research findings, proposing a solution, or providing an analysis? Knowing your objective will guide you throughout your report preparation.

Step 2: Know Your Audience - Identify your target audience and tailor your report to their level of understanding and interests. Whether it's a technical audience or a general readership, speaking their language is key to engaging them effectively.

Step 3: Gather and Organize Information - Conduct thorough research and collect all the relevant data and supporting evidence. Organize your findings logically, creating a structured outline to ensure a smooth flow of information from introduction to conclusion.

Step 4: Craft a Captivating Introduction - Grab your readers' attention from the outset with a compelling introduction. Introduce the topic, highlight the significance of your report, and provide a brief overview of what's to come. A strong beginning will set the stage for an engaging read.

Step 5: Create a Clear and Concise Body - In the main body of the report, present your information in a clear and concise manner. Use headings and subheadings to divide different sections and support your statements with data, facts, and examples. Stay focused on the central theme and avoid unnecessary tangents.

How to Make Report: Helpful Tips

To nail that good report, remember these essential points. They'll guide you to clarity, coherence, and a report that shines bright:

tips

  • Create a Compelling Visual Story : People are often more engaged with visual content than plain text. To make your report stand out, consider incorporating visual elements such as infographics, charts, diagrams, or relevant images. These visuals can help clarify complex information and make your report more memorable and appealing.
  • Use Analogies and Metaphors : To make your report more relatable and understandable, use analogies and metaphors. Comparing unfamiliar concepts to something familiar can help readers grasp the idea better. However, ensure the analogies are appropriate and easily comprehensible for your target audience.
  • Incorporate Real-Life Examples : Make a report more practical and relatable by including real-life examples or case studies. By illustrating your points with concrete instances, you demonstrate the real-world application of your findings, which can enhance the credibility and relevance of your report.
  • Encourage Interactive Elements : If possible, consider creating an interactive digital version of your report. This could include hyperlinks to additional resources, interactive charts, or embedded multimedia elements. Interactivity can provide a more engaging experience for your readers and allow them to explore specific aspects of the report in-depth.
  • Include Stakeholder Perspectives : If your report addresses a specific project, problem, or decision-making process, consider including perspectives from relevant stakeholders. This could involve direct quotes or interviews with key individuals involved. By incorporating various viewpoints, you present a comprehensive picture of the subject matter and show that you've considered multiple angles.

Remember that while these tips can make your report more interesting and effective, it's essential to balance creativity with clarity and professionalism. Always keep your audience in mind and tailor your writing style and content to meet their needs and expectations.

How to Write a Report for Work?

To easily understand how to write a report for work, follow these quick steps:

  • Define Objectives & Scope : Clearly outline report goals and limits.
  • Use Relevant Data : Include credible data supporting your points.
  • Highlight Key Findings : Emphasize crucial discoveries with visuals.
  • Provide Context : Briefly explain background and relevance.
  • Address Risks & Limitations : Acknowledge potential shortcomings.
  • Offer Actionable Recommendations : Propose clear, doable steps.
  • Consider Implications : Analyze the impact of recommendations.
  • Include Executive Summary & Conclusion : Summarize key points.
  • Adapt to Target Audience : Tailor language for readers' expertise.
  • Follow Consistent Style Guide : Maintain uniformity in formatting.

What Are the Three Main Types of Reports?

Reports can be categorized into various types based on their purpose and content. Here are the three main types of reports commonly used in business settings:

  • Informational Reports : Informational reports aim to present facts, data, or information without any analysis or interpretation. They provide details about events, activities, or conditions and are often used to keep employees and stakeholders informed about the status of projects, tasks, or processes. Examples include daily activity reports, inventory reports, and meeting minutes.
  • Analytical Reports : Analytical reports involve a deeper level of examination and interpretation of data. They analyze complex information to identify patterns, trends, and potential solutions to problems. These reports often include recommendations based on the analysis. Examples of analytical reports include market research reports, financial analysis reports, and performance evaluation reports.
  • Research Reports : Research reports are comprehensive documents that present the findings of in-depth research or investigations. They follow a structured methodology and provide insights into specific topics, often involving primary data collection and analysis. Research reports are common in academia, scientific studies, and business research projects.
  • Marketing Reports : Comprehensive documents analyzing a company's marketing efforts, providing insights on campaigns, customer behavior, and market trends to optimize strategies and measure ROI.
  • Academic Reports : Formal documents presenting research findings in structured formats, aiming to communicate insights and evidence objectively within the academic community.
  • Sales Reports : Detailed records summarizing sales performance, revenue, and key metrics, essential for monitoring sales activities, identifying trends, and making informed business decisions.

In conclusion, mastering how to write a report is like composing a symphony of words—a delicate balance of clarity and creativity. Remember, a report is not just a bunch of jumbled letters on a page; it's a harmonious fusion of information and insight that dances gracefully into the minds of its readers. So, wield your pen with finesse, let your ideas pirouette with precision, and watch your report shine like a brilliant encore!

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how to write an academic report: Examples and tips

how to write an academic report: Examples and tips

Writing a report should be concise and to the point. It should also be relevant to the topic. Make sure to check your work with someone and read it aloud. Proofreading is also important because computer programs cannot catch every mistake. You may even want to wait a day before you read it to make sure that it is error-free. Keep in mind that an academic report differs from a business or technical report.

Avoiding the present tense

While the present tense is commonly used in academic writing, it isn’t always necessary. When anyone tells you about writing how to write an academic report , you can switch the tense within the same sentence or paragraph when you shift from general statements to more specific examples based on research. Other times, it’s appropriate to use the present tense when you write about a particular event that has changed over time.

The best time to use either tense is determined by the context in which you’re writing. While both are acceptable, you’ll want to ensure that your reader knows when you made your findings. In most cases, the present tense will mean that you’re writing about the time you did the research, while the past tense can be interpreted in different ways.

Introducing your topic

The introduction is the first section of your paper, and it should capture the reader’s interest and make them want to read the rest of your paper. You can do this by opening with a compelling story, question, or example that shows why your topic is important. The hook should also establish the relevance of your paper in the wider context.

The introduction should also have a thesis statement, which should explain your research paper’s topic and point of view. This statement will guide the organization of your essay. A strong thesis statement is specific, clear, and able to be proved.

Stating your thesis statement

Your thesis statement should be clear and concise. It should be able to persuade others while laying out your strong opinions. It should also contain an argument. For example, you could argue that the government should ban 4×4 pickup trucks. Or, you might argue that the amount of foul language in movies is disproportionate to the amount of it in real life.

A strong thesis statement contradicts a commonly held viewpoint. It is not too complex to explain over the course of the paper. It should also express a single main idea.

Putting together an outline before writing your report

Putting together an outline is a great way to organize your paper. Outline the content that you will cover and how you plan to support your main point. You can use a list format or alpha-numeric format to organize your outline. Regardless of the format, your outline should have a parallel structure and include the same types of words in each section. It is also a good idea to include citations whenever possible.

When you’re writing, outlining will help you get the most out of your writing. It will save you time and effort when writing because you can make full sentences and well-developed essays with an outline.

Avoiding jargon

One of the most important things to remember when writing an academic report is to avoid using jargon. These words are often difficult to understand, and although they are useful shorthand for scientists, they may alienate non-specialist readers. The use of jargon is the most common reason that readers complain about writing, but there are ways to replace these terms with plainer versions.

Jargon is specialized terminology used by a specific group. It can be incredibly difficult to understand if you’re not part of the group. It also tends to make your writing more complicated and shows that you’re trying to show off your knowledge.

How to Write an Academic Report – Examples and Tips

While the present tense is commonly used in academic writing, it isn’t always necessary. When writing an academic report, you can switch the tense within the same sentence or paragraph when you shift from general statements to more specific examples based on research. Other times, it’s appropriate to use the present tense when you write about a particular event that has changed over time.

Owen Ingram is a research-based content writer, who works for Cognizantt, a globally recognised professional SEO service and Research Prospect , a Servizio di redazione di saggi e dissertazioni . Mr Owen Ingram holds a PhD degree in English literature. He loves to express his views on a range of issues including education, technology, and more.

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Reports and essays: key differences

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Know what to expect

Explore the main differences between reports and essays and how to write for your assignments

You'll complete assignments with different requirements throughout your degree, so it's important to understand what you need to do for each of them. Here we explore the key differences between reports and essays. 

This page describes general features of academic reports and essays. Depending on your subject you may use all of these features, a selection of them, or you may have additional requirements. 

There is no single right way to write a report or essay, but they are different assignments. At a glance: 

  • Reports depend heavily on your subject and the type of report.
  • Essays usually have specific content and a planned structure with a focus on sense and flow. You subject might need different types of information in your introduction –  some disciplines include a short background and context here, while others begin their discussion, discuss their resources or briefly signpost the topic.

Differences between reports and essays

This table compares reports and essays and provides an outline of the standard structure for each. Your assignment will also depend on your discipline, the purpose of your work, and your audience – so you should check what you need to do in your course and module handbooks, instructions from your lecturer, and your subject conventions.

Table adapted from Cottrell, 2003, p. 209.

The structure of reports

Most reports use an IMRaD structure: Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion.

Below are some common sections that also appear in reports. Some sections include alternative headings.

1. Table of contents

Your contents shows the number of each report section, its title, page number and any sub-sections. Sub-section numbers and details start under the section title, not the margin or the number.

2. Abstract or Executive summary

This brief summary of the report is usually the last thing you write.

3. Introduction

Your introduction describes the purpose of the report, explains why it necessary or useful, and sets out its precise aims and objectives.

4. Literature review

This describes current research and thinking about the problem or research question, and is often incorporated into the introduction.

5. Methods or Methodology

This describes and justifies the methods or processes used to collect your data.

6. Results or Findings

This section presents the results (or processed data) from the research and may consist of mainly tables, charts and or diagrams.

7. Discussion, or Analysis, or Interpretation

This section analyses the results and evaluates the research carried out.

8. Conclusion

The conclusion summarises the report and usually revisits the aims and objectives.

9. Recommendations

In this section the writer uses the results and conclusions from the report to make practical suggestions about a problem or issue. This may not be required.

10. Appendices

You can include raw data or materials that your report refers to in the appendix, if you need to. The data is often presented as charts, diagrams and tables. Each item should be numbered : for example, write Table 1 and its title; Table 2 and its title, and so on as needed.

Structure of essays

Introduction.

Your essay introduction contextualises and gives background information about the topic or questions being discussed, and sets out what the essay is going to cover.

Your essay body is divided into paragraphs. These paragraphs help make a continuous, flowing text.

The conclusion summarises the main points made in the essay. Avoid introducing new information in your conclusion.

Bibliography or Reference list

This is a list of the resources you've used in your essay. This is usually presented alphabetically by authors’ surname.

Reference for the Table of Distinctions above: 

Cottrell, S. (2003).  The Study Skills Handbook  (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave.

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Key features of academic reports

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Basic essay structure

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Water for Peace: official celebration of World Water Day 2024

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Under the theme “Water for Peace”, this campaign, led jointly by UNESCO and UNECE on behalf of UN-Water , showcases water's pivotal role in fostering peace, prosperity, and conflict prevention. 

Join us at UNESCO Headquarters for the official World Water Day 2024 celebration. This pivotal event promises a rich one-day programme filled with insights from distinguished speakers, including heads of UN agencies and high-level officials, alongside technical presentations that draw on field experiences. The day will also be enlivened by artistic and cultural activities that echo the theme. A highlight of the celebration will be the unveiling of the United Nations World Water Development Report 2024. 

Programme highlights

  • High level Opening Ceremony  
  • Launch of the United Nations World Water Development Report 2024  
  • Technical Discussions on Water Cooperation and Peacebuilding 
  • Cultural shows and indoor photo exhibition (Walk of Water) 

Provisional event programme: English | Français

UN World Water Development Report 2024

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The UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) is published by UNESCO, on behalf of UN-Water and its production is coordinated by the UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme. Since its first edition in 2003, the series provide policy and decision-makers with factual evidence and tools to stimulate ideas and actions. This comprehensive report, funded by the Italian Government, also provides an authoritative overview of global water trends, challenges, and solutions. The 2024 Report, entitled "Water for Prosperity and Peace", underlines the interlinked complex relationships between water, prosperity and peace, describing how progress in one dimension can have positive repercussions on the others. 

Ensure your participation in the dialogue on sustainable water management and peace by exploring the findings and recommendations of the UN WWDR 2024. 

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We welcome the participation of members of governments, international organizations, NGOs, academia, the private sector, and all stakeholders interested in the sustainable management of water resources and the promotion of peace; in-person or by watching live . Registration is mandatory to participate in-person. 

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  • How to conclude an essay | Interactive example

How to Conclude an Essay | Interactive Example

Published on January 24, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay . A strong conclusion aims to:

  • Tie together the essay’s main points
  • Show why your argument matters
  • Leave the reader with a strong impression

Your conclusion should give a sense of closure and completion to your argument, but also show what new questions or possibilities it has opened up.

This conclusion is taken from our annotated essay example , which discusses the history of the Braille system. Hover over each part to see why it’s effective.

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

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Table of contents

Step 1: return to your thesis, step 2: review your main points, step 3: show why it matters, what shouldn’t go in the conclusion, more examples of essay conclusions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about writing an essay conclusion.

To begin your conclusion, signal that the essay is coming to an end by returning to your overall argument.

Don’t just repeat your thesis statement —instead, try to rephrase your argument in a way that shows how it has been developed since the introduction.

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Next, remind the reader of the main points that you used to support your argument.

Avoid simply summarizing each paragraph or repeating each point in order; try to bring your points together in a way that makes the connections between them clear. The conclusion is your final chance to show how all the paragraphs of your essay add up to a coherent whole.

To wrap up your conclusion, zoom out to a broader view of the topic and consider the implications of your argument. For example:

  • Does it contribute a new understanding of your topic?
  • Does it raise new questions for future study?
  • Does it lead to practical suggestions or predictions?
  • Can it be applied to different contexts?
  • Can it be connected to a broader debate or theme?

Whatever your essay is about, the conclusion should aim to emphasize the significance of your argument, whether that’s within your academic subject or in the wider world.

Try to end with a strong, decisive sentence, leaving the reader with a lingering sense of interest in your topic.

The easiest way to improve your conclusion is to eliminate these common mistakes.

Don’t include new evidence

Any evidence or analysis that is essential to supporting your thesis statement should appear in the main body of the essay.

The conclusion might include minor pieces of new information—for example, a sentence or two discussing broader implications, or a quotation that nicely summarizes your central point. But it shouldn’t introduce any major new sources or ideas that need further explanation to understand.

Don’t use “concluding phrases”

Avoid using obvious stock phrases to tell the reader what you’re doing:

  • “In conclusion…”
  • “To sum up…”

These phrases aren’t forbidden, but they can make your writing sound weak. By returning to your main argument, it will quickly become clear that you are concluding the essay—you shouldn’t have to spell it out.

Don’t undermine your argument

Avoid using apologetic phrases that sound uncertain or confused:

  • “This is just one approach among many.”
  • “There are good arguments on both sides of this issue.”
  • “There is no clear answer to this problem.”

Even if your essay has explored different points of view, your own position should be clear. There may be many possible approaches to the topic, but you want to leave the reader convinced that yours is the best one!

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  • Argumentative
  • Literary analysis

This conclusion is taken from an argumentative essay about the internet’s impact on education. It acknowledges the opposing arguments while taking a clear, decisive position.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

This conclusion is taken from a short expository essay that explains the invention of the printing press and its effects on European society. It focuses on giving a clear, concise overview of what was covered in the essay.

The invention of the printing press was important not only in terms of its immediate cultural and economic effects, but also in terms of its major impact on politics and religion across Europe. In the century following the invention of the printing press, the relatively stationary intellectual atmosphere of the Middle Ages gave way to the social upheavals of the Reformation and the Renaissance. A single technological innovation had contributed to the total reshaping of the continent.

This conclusion is taken from a literary analysis essay about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . It summarizes what the essay’s analysis achieved and emphasizes its originality.

By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
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  • Sunk cost fallacy

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Your essay’s conclusion should contain:

  • A rephrased version of your overall thesis
  • A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
  • An indication of why your argument matters

The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.

For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.

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    The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go. A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a ...

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