Report writing is a formal style of writing elaborately on a topic. The tone of a report and report writing format is always formal. The important section to focus on is the target audience. For example – report writing about a school event, report writing about a business case, etc.
All your facts and information presented in the report not only have to be bias-free, but they also have to be a 100% correct. Proof-reading and fact-checking is always what you do as a thumb rule before submitting a report.
One needs to write reports with much analysis. The purpose of report writing is essential to inform the reader about a topic, minus one’s opinion on the topic.
It’s simply a portrayal of facts, as it is. Even if one gives inferences, solid analysis, charts, tables and data is provided. Mostly, it is specified by the person who’s asked for the report whether they would like your take or not if that is the case.
In many cases, you need to be clear about your own suggestions too for a specific case after a factual report. That depends on why are you writing the report and who you are writing it for in the first place. Knowing your audience’s motive for asking for that report is very important as it sets the course of the facts focused in your report.
These different kinds of reports are also covered in our previous chapter in reports writing. We recommend you to read our chapter on kinds of reports before diving into the report format. Now that we have some idea about report-writing, let’s get straight into our report writing format.
Report Writing Format
Following are the parts of a report format that is most common.
- Executive summary – highlights of the main report
- Table of Contents – index page
- Introduction – origin, essentials of the main subject
- Body – main report
- Conclusion – inferences, measures taken, projections
- Reference – sources of information
Let us understand each one of them in detail.
You summarize the main points of the report, such as the report topic, the data obtained, the data analysis methods, and recommendations based on the data. The summary could be as short as a paragraph or as long as five pages, depending on the length of the full report.
Usually, the recipient of the report doesn’t always have the time to read through the entire report. This summary gives the reader a gist of the important points.
Remember that although attached as the first page, this summary is always putting a perspective for the entire report, meaning that effort-wise, the writer always needs to include it at the end.
Most importantly, the summary should contain:
- the purpose of the report
- what you did (analysis) and what you found (results)
- your recommendations; these recommendations should be short and not go beyond a page
Table of Contents
The report should begin with a table of contents. This explains the audience, author, and basic purpose of the attached report. It should be short and to the point.
This section is the beginning of your report. It highlights the major topics that are covered and provides background information on why the data in the report was collected. It also contains a top view of what’s covered in the report.
The body of the report describes the problem, the data that was collected, sometimes in the form of table or charts, and discusses with reasons. The body is usually broken into subsections, with subheadings that highlight the further breakdown of a point. Report writing format is very specific that way about clear and crisp headings and subheadings.
This just structures out readers clarity in understanding and further enhances the logical flow that can get hard to follow. Since a report has no personal bias or opinions, you can imagine that reading through a report can be a bit boring and people may find it hard to follow through. In such a case, it’s always best to create pointers and lay out the points in short and simple methods.
Note: Tables and figures must all be labeled
At the end of our main body lies the tying of ends together in the much-awaited conclusion. The conclusion explains how the data described in the body of the document may be interpreted or what conclusions may be drawn. The conclusion often suggests how to use the data to improve some aspect of the business or recommends additional research.
This solution then may be implemented to solve a given problem the report was made for in the first place. Big consultancies or service providers prepare reports in the form of Microsoft Powerpoint or the Keynote in Mac to present to the stakeholders. At the end of which lies the conclusive suggestion section.
If you used other sources of information to help write your report, such as a government database, you would include that in the references. The references section lists the resources used to research or collect the data for the report. References provide proof for your points. Also, this provides solid reasoning for the readers so that they can review the original data sources themselves. Also, credit must be given where credit is due.
Lastly, comes the appendix. Although this one is not necessary, more like an optional element. This may include additional technical information that is not necessary to the explanation provided in the body and conclusion but further supports the findings, such as tables or charts or pictures, or additional research not cited in the body but relevant to the discussion. Note: Tables and figures must all be labelled.
In case you want to closely look at report writing format example or take a look at the report writing sample, our next chapter will have a clear example of the same. Stay tuned.