Creating a Report Writing Process
Address the assignment directly, inventing the
objectives and goals of the project, relating to the assignment, prior to researching.
Then, use the goals and objectives to research and explore your subject. Set a plan for
gaining the information and gather it, recording as much information as possible as you
Draft, or gather, the information into paragraph
form and represent any data in a table, chart, graph, or schematic necessary to help the
reader understand the material collected. Write a description and title above the diagram
and write a legend, if necessary. Directly address the questions or objectives from the
Plan and organize the report by arranging the
data and content into a report format. (See Report Guidelines
below.) Continue drafting.
Test, revise, and edit the report, asking
classmates, instructors, employers, or other new eyes to help out along the way.
In Burnett, Figure 2.6 (page 49) discusses these steps.
Report Guidelines: Times New Roman, 12
point font, 1 inch margins, number of pages does not include the title page, appendices or the references
page. See also the How to Format APA Style Papers
Elements of a Report, Proposal/Report Construction Guide
(download the Sample Report/Report Template
and the outline/timeline in an Excel document or HTML document)
NOTE: See also the sample report in Burnett
- Title Page
- Title: Must be descriptive. Use active, descriptive,
precise verbs and nouns (Diagnosis-What is the subject? What is the writer doing with the
subject? For whom or what is the writer analyzing? Why?) that specify exactly what is
- Submitted to lines: Write "Submitted to,"
followed by the individuals name, title, the company for which they work, and the
- Prepared by: Write your name and title or team name,
the company for which you work and company address.
- Date line: Spell out the month, followed by a
numeric day and year the document was written.
- Titles should be centered at the top of the page.
- Executive Summary page number should be written in lowercase Roman
Numerals (1=i, 2=ii, 5=v).
- Table of Contents headings should be bolded.
- Table of Contents subheadings should
- Length: One paragraph to a page, depending upon the type of report.
- The Executive Summary outlines the paper,
briefly listing descriptive headings and subheadings (liken to the
Abstract in an APA paper).
- Includes a thesis statement and purpose.
- Some major items may be bulleted.
- Developed after paper is written.
Includes a formal thesis statement purpose and
clearly states the Background (subheading) and Objectives (subheading). See
Raimes, Section 3f.
Leads the reader to content (what is being
Answer who? What? Where? Why? When? How?
Why is the study
What is the
importance or significance of the project?
Keep this section as brief as
What will be discussed?
What are the anticipated outcomes?
May be in bullet format and in an action
pictures, graphs, tables of items being studied
A schematic is a diagram that
is useful in helping the audience see what the product should look like.
Schematics should be
descriptively labeled with figure number, title, and brief description, or
It should provide the reader
with items such as measurements, tables, cost, and a legend (if necessary).
Parts List (optional depending
upon the project)
Include all parts needed to accomplish
the project with cost and sources list.
form, longest section!
the audience will run into roadblocks. Let the reader know what possible problems are
descriptions as to how to remedy or avoid problems.
In instructions manuals,
Anticipated Difficulties may appear as Warnings, Cautions, Notes, or Danger
statements are often found here.
the results of the investigation? Represent the findings.
a written/verbal representation of the information in the tables.
reader solutions to the problem.
new recommendations in new paragraphs and develop thoroughly.
of the major points.
to writing a conclusion (Raimes, Section 3f).
of the information was gathered from outside resources (i.e., book, article, web site,
person), cite them in the references section at the end of the document. Use
Documentation format. (See Raimes, section 4).
Appendices (if applicable)
include in-depth definitions or diagrams that infer with the flow of the reading.
Surveys, interviews, price
lists, parts lists, and any other lengthy content may be placed in the
Label Appendices by letter and
place a reference to the appendices in the Table of Contents.
The following web sites offer report guidelines and samples:
- Writing Lab
Reports and Scientific Papers, by Warren D. Dolphin, Iowa State University,
- Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students, compiled by Michael Alley,
Virginia Tech; Leslie Crowley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Jeff Donnell,
Georgia Tech; and Christene Moore, University of Texas at Austin, http://fbox.vt.edu/eng/mech/writing/workbooks/proposals.html
- National Institute of Education, Technical Report Writing for Engineering Students, http://www.arts.nie.edu.sg/ell/student/tcs/trw1.html
- NASA Report Writing Guidelines, NASA Technical Memorandum 105419, http://ltid.grc.nasa.gov/Publishing/editing/vidoli.htm