Writing Reports: How to

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According to dictionary.com, reports are “an account or statement describing in detail an event, situation, or the like, usually as the result of observation, inquiry”. There are many reasons why there is a need to write reports. Unlike creative writing, reports are written for educational and informational purposes. They are always based on facts, and can be in the form of assessments or for references. There are many types of reports, namely progress reports, investigative reports, and feasibility reports.

Reports generally have 3 parts: the introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction of the report (like its name suggests), introduces the reader to the report:

  • Background (of the report)

The background within the introduction of a report provides the history of the situation (that the report is about), who the report is targeted for, what the topic (of the report) is about, the current status of a situation (that the report is about) and the reasons for it, and the definition of key terms (e.g. scientific or technical).

  • Purpose

The purpose of a report can either be for educational and informational purposes, in the form of assessments or for references.

  • Scope and Methodology

Within the scope and methodology of the introduction of a report, there are limitations/constraints (e.g. money, software, time and geographical limitations etc…), special requirements, as well as aspects of the report topic that is to be included or excluded. The first paragraph of the scope and methodology outlines the sections of the report in relation to the topic, as well as exclusions within the report (if any) and the reasons why.

The body of the report would follow, after the topic of the report has been duly introduced, with its background, purpose, scope and methodology being identified and addressed. Within the body of the report, the findings in relation to the topic of the report should be mentioned. There should also be detailed discussions about the findings to further substantiate the purpose of the report. What goes into the body of a report is not necessary always the same.

Once the body of the report has been completed, it is important to have a good conclusion. The conclusion of a report not only summarizes the topic of the report, but it also provides information about feasible solutions for problems that are identified in the report. In order for a report to be credible, facts have to be supported with evidence (proof) throughout the report.

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