There are two main types of reports:
Both of these types of reports require analytical thinking and writing, as well as a descriptive overview or background of the topic.
An Analytical Report:
• Provides information
• Analyses information
• Draws conclusions from the information
• Recommends action on the basis of the information.
An Informational Report:
• Provides information
• Does not analyse information
• Does not recommend action.
For general topics, such as the impacts of privatisation of the media, it is likely that you will write analytical reports.
For lab reports you would more likely write an informational report on the findings of an experiment you have conducted.
The typical structure of a report includes most, if not all, of the following sections.
Refer to your unit outline and ask your tutor for clarification on what sections you will need to include in your report.
A typical report will include:
• Title Page
• Table of Contents (must be included if the report is longer than 10 pages)
• Acknowledgements (if required)
• Discussion, or the body of the report (the content)
• Reference list.
The title page will contain:
• The report title, which clearly states the topic of the report
• Full details of the person/s for whom the report is intended
• Full details of the person/s who prepared the report
• Date of the presentation of the report (or date submitted if you are not presenting it).
• The abstract is one of the most important components of the report. It will be read by vastly more people than those who will read the whole report, and needs to provide enough information to invite the audience to read on.
• Although the audience will read this first, you should leave the writing of your abstract as the last step. This will allow you to summarise the content of your report in a concise and clear format.
• Depending on the length of your report, an abstract is usually no longer than 10% of the paper, or 100-200 words.
• An abstract aims to:
– Provide a brief overview of the whole report
– Give concise, complete, specific and self-sufficient information that can be easily understood
– Offer recommendations for executives and managers to base their decisions on.
Table of Contents:
• Your table of contents will inform the reader of the layout of your report, and allow them to navigate to the sections that will be most relevant to them.
• The format of your report can take on an alphanumeric system, or a decimal system, which is the more common of the two.
• See the examples pictured of the two different styles. Both tables are divided into headings and subheadings to break up the information into sections that can be easily read out of order.
Your introduction will:
• Provide background information on the topic
• State the purpose of the report
• Indicate the scope, including limitations
• Outline the methods used to gather information
• Clarify key terms
• Inform the reader of what your report will cover
• Give the reader a preview of how the information will be presented.
It will also include your literature review of any publications you have used for your report. For tips on how to write a literature review, see Grammarly‘s post on “How to Write a Literature Review“.
• The content of your report will depend on its purpose.
• Your report should contain primary sources if possible (such as observations and interviews), as well as secondary sources to provide explanations of theory and background. Your lecturer will set guidelines on whether to use primary and/or secondary sources.
• You should further detail the methods of your investigation, including what you did and why, and any issues encountered in the process. • In the body content you will explain the findings gathered from your research, and discuss the implications they hold.
• Remember to separate your key ideas and concepts into clear headings and subheadings, so that you break up your report into digestible pieces of information for the reader.
• Your conclusion will be a summary of the key points you have raised in your discussion. In this, you will need to: – Contextualise your observations, findings, and analyses – Remind the reader of what you have informed them in the body content (i.e. what you researched, what you discovered, what implications or problems this raises) – Give a sense of completion.
• Make sure you do not include any new information in the conclusion – it is a summary of what you have already told the audience.
• Think of this as an action plan for how to resolve or improve the issue.
• Try to make your recommendations as realistic as possible, and identify clear paths of how these recommendations could be achieved by the responsible parties.
• This is a section where you can include further information that is relevant to your topic but did not fit in the body of your report.
• This can include (but is not limited to) graphs, tables, and raw data collected as part of your investigation.
• As for all academic writing, the sources used in your report must be properly referenced. Refer to your unit outline or ask your tutor for the appropriate referencing style for your assignment.
• You can also refer to our Better Referencing (Academic Integrity) program for advice on how to use references within your report, and refer to the Library Referencing Guides for the different types of referencing styles and examples of how to use them.
Have a go at the Activities on the right-hand side of the page to revise what you have learned so far about Reports.
Click on the NEXT PAGE button at the bottom of the screen to view the Report Writing Checklist.
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