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Complete Guide to Effective Report Writing

Are you terrified to execute your academic report writing task? Unsure about the main
components of a report? Dive in and follow some basic tips and techniques to get over your
fear. Writing academic reports on a regular basis can polish your research writing skills
substantially and therefore it is recommended to learn the tricks of the trade to stand out from
your peers. The purpose of this post is to show by example how a report should be organised and
formatted in order to achieve the highest possible academic grade. The ability to write well
organised reports can help you stand out among your colleagues and competitors. All possible
sections of a report are briefly discussed in this post.
Organisation
A well written and logically organised report is informative and helpful to the readers. It should
be noted that the standard structure for reports has been worked out by the academia to the
advantage of both writer and reader. However, in some cases it is advisable to change the
structure to fit a particular requirement pertaining to the research methodology used by the
writer. Following are the key components/sections of a report as described in a British Standard
(1972):
1. Title
2. Executive Summary or Abstract
3. List of Contents
4. List of Figures (optional)
5. List of Tables (optional)
6. Introduction
7. Main body of the report
8. Conclusions
9. Recommendations (optional)
10. Appendices (optional)
11. References
Title
It is readers first contact with the report to advise them of the purpose of the study. The text on
the title page should not be too long, but it must provide sufficient information to readers to
differentiate your report from other similar research studies. Use simple and ordinary English
grammar for readers convenience. Improve your English language online for free
Executive Summary
Although this is the first thing your audience will read, you should complete this section last. The
idea behind this approach is to know exactly what to write as an overview of your work.
List of Contents
This section should be created for the readers to help them find specific information in the report.
The list of contents typically presents a list of key sections of the report with corresponding page
numbers. It is also possible to have several lists of contents if the report is too long and
splitting the report into parts is helpful to the audience.
Introduction

The purpose of this section is to introduce your audience to the topic. A well written
Introduction will allow your readers to understand what to expect from the main body of the
report. A common mistake that students make is that their introduction section introduces the
subject rather than introducing the topic. Do not discuss the material facts until the main body.
Following are the questions that the Introduction section must answer.
How did the researcher approach the problem?
What is the purpose of the report?
What kind of information does it contain?
Who are the targeted audience of the report?
The Main Body
Material facts and the real content is placed in the main body of the report. It should have a
separate title/heading to inform readers of the subject matter. The methodology, materials,
experimental equipment (if any), results, and findings are discussed in detail in the main body
of a report. If you made changes to a particular technique then it is advised to describe what
exactly you have done. However, the most important part of the main body are the findings.
Organise your findings logically so it is easier for you to reach conclusions from the facts and
evidences. Stick to the proven facts and avoid indulging in personal views. Include graphs or
tables where necessary so your audience can pick out the most important information.
Conclusions
The evidence presented in the main body of a report help the author to naturally reach
justifiable conclusions. Present statements on the current situation with reference to the topic and
suggest the course of action that might be considered in the future. Analyse advantages and
disadvantages of various courses of action briefly and give your own opinion on the findings, if
appropriate. Avoid presenting any information that did not appear anywhere in the main body of
the report.
Recommendations
This section is usually not compulsory, but if it is included in a report then it needs to follow on
logically from the statements and evidences presented in the conclusions section.
References
Last but not least, compile a list of all reference resources, including academic journals and
articles, books or book chapters, articles and videos that were used to complete the report. The
most commonly used referencing style in the academia is the Harvard System, but you may
choose other referencing systems such as ALA and MPA to reference your paper.
Some tips for improving the presentation
Choose a font style that is convenient to the readers
The font should be large enough for the readers to easily read
Learn to use the paragraph spacing, review and page layout functions in Microsoft Word
for improved presentation of your report.
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