Mr W's Guide to Report Writing
Reports that are good should include the following qualities: readability, interesting, good presentation and be NO longer than necessary.
The report should contain an clear structure, with a good summary and conclusions are essential.
Before you begin you should ask yourself the following questions:
1. When does the report have to be handed in?
2. Who is going to read it?
3. Do you understand what you are being asked to do?
4. Is there a specific style that you need to follow?
With regards to the IB, the following questions can be answered as follows:
1. When your teacher sets the date, try not to do it at the last minute, because you will only regret not having started it earlier!
2. Your teacher or the external moderator, so it should be written as well as possible, with as few mistakes.
3. Do you understand the Internal Assessment criteria, if not, ask your teacher or fellow pupils.
4. Look at as many examples of the Internal Assessments as you can, to get a feel of what the best examples should look like. Below is the basic skeleton of what it should look like.
• Research title (question)
• Statement of objective(s)
• Conclusions and recommendations
• Bibliography and references
This is what the Internal assessment has to contain and is discussed elsewhere in the blog. We now go on to the way you are going to write the report. Follow these rules and the assignment will automatically be easier to understand and alsoyou won't feel lost doing it.
ACTION CHECK LIST:
Before you even begin writing your report, you need to plan what you have to say. You should consider the following questions:
What is the purpose of the report?
What timescale do you have to write it?
What type of report should it be?
What scope do you need to cover?
When you have done that, you then need to consider the readership, who else might look at the report? What does the reader know or not know about your subject?
And finally, you need to have thought about how the report will finally turn out. Like athletes visualising the finish line, you need to have in your minds eye what the actual report is going to look like. Think in terms of outcomes instead of intentions.
2. Gathering Information
Obviously you aren’t going to have all the information in one place, so you will need to have to go and gather and collate as much relevant information about your report as possible. This can be done in a number of ways:
• Reading other reports
• Interviewing people
• Carrying out primary research
• Reading newspapers and magazines
• Carrying out surveys
There are many ways you can find the information, just remember don’t leave it too late; otherwise you will have problems finding the information. Make sure you plan for information gathering. Finally you need to get information that will give you a balanced picture.
3. Structure your information
Going back to the objectives of the report you now need to decide what information most important and what information provides supporting evidence. Consider the order in which you are presenting the information. If the order is not logical, restructure it so the message is easier to understand.
Plan the layout of the report. Use the format suggested by the IB. If not the IB then make sure you follow the layout that is required to allow your readers to understand it most easily. When you put information in the appendix make sure that it is not information that would be better in the main part.
4. Write the Report
The first time you write your report, think of it as a draft. The plan you wrote in step 3 should help you achieve what you wanted. The really best way to write the report is in one sitting. This allows you to put everything together and keep all the ideas flowing fluidly.
Set yourself a deadline.
By following these rules your writing will be as persuasive as it could possibly be:
• Keep it Simple Stupid! (But don’t oversimplify!)
• Include only the information that your reader needs to know
• Be logical in the way you layout your report
• Use short words, to be concise and clear
• Only use long words when they are absolutely necessary
• If using technical terminology, use a glossary in the appendix to explain.
• Write short sentences, and avoid too many subordinate clauses
• Use positive construction
• Write in the active, it is easier to understand than the passive and is more persuasive.
Graphics and pictures are definitely advisable. The reader always appreciates these things, but always make sure they are clear, properly labelled and introduced by the text itself. If the data is too detailed put it in the appendix.
5. Review what you have written
Always give yourself time to review the work. Put the work aside for a day or two, then you will be able to be more critical and view the work with more perspective. Keep in mind those original questions I mentioned at the beginning of the report. Does it fully cover your objectives? Try the readability statistic on MS Word (between 60 &70 is ideal). Make sure your spelling, punctuation, and grammar are correct. Get someone else to proofread it if you can. Ask them if they think it is easy to understand and whether the structure is comfortable.
Are your conclusions and recommendations those you actually got from the main body of the report? Do you express your own point of view?
6. Printing and Submitting the Work
Write the report with a 1 ½ line spacing, leaving lots of space and don’t be afraid to use a lot of paper. This is one of those moments, I am sorry to say, where you should not be too environmentally minded. Use good paper too. Remember presentation is key in any aspect of business.
Aim to submit your assignment ahead of the hand-in date. The receiver is always, always, always impressed if you achieve this and they are definitely going to to give it more attention if you do.
DO’S & DON’TS FOR REPORT WRITING
KEEP FOCUSSED ON THE TASK
WRITE WITH YOUR READER IN MIND
EXPRESS CLEARLY AND CONCISELY
PROVIDE A SUMMARY OF THE MAIN IDEAS AND CONCLUSIONS
DON’T WRITE TO IMPRESS
DON’T INCLUDE INFORMATION JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE FOUND IT, MAKE SURE YOU JUSTIFY ALL YOUR INFORMATION.
I hope this info is useful for you, keep these ideas in mind for any type of report you have to write. Remember above all who you are writing for.