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Creating a Report Writing Process

  1. 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 research.

  2. 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 assignment.

  3. Plan and organize the report by arranging the data and content into a report format. (See Report Guidelines below.) Continue drafting.

  4. 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 tutorial.

Common 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 630-43.

  1. General Information

    1. Title Page
    1. 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 being studied.
    2. Submitted to lines: Write "Submitted to," followed by the individual’s name, title, the company for which they work, and the company address.
    3. Prepared by: Write your name and title or team name, the company for which you work and company address.
    4. Date line: Spell out the month, followed by a numeric day and year the document was written.
    1. Table of Contents
  1. Titles should be centered at the top of the page.
  2. Executive Summary page number should be written in lowercase Roman Numerals (1=i, 2=ii, 5=v).
  3. Table of Contents headings should be bolded.
  4. Table of Contents subheadings should not be bolded.
  1. Executive Summary/Abstract

    1. Length: One paragraph to a page, depending upon the type of report.
    2. The Executive Summary outlines the paper, briefly listing descriptive headings and subheadings (liken to the Abstract in an APA paper).
    3. Includes a thesis statement and purpose.
    4. Some major items may be bulleted.
    5. Developed after paper is written.
  1. Introductory Materials, paragraph form

    1. Introduction

      1. Includes a formal thesis statement purpose and clearly states the Background (subheading) and Objectives (subheading). See Raimes, Section 3f.

      2. Leads the reader to content (what is being studied).

      3. Answer who? What? Where? Why? When? How?

  1. Background, subheading

  1. Why is the study being conducted?

  2. What is the importance or significance of the project? 

  3. Keep this section as brief as possible.

  1. Objectives, subheading

  1. What will be discussed?

  2. What are the anticipated outcomes?

  3. May be in bullet format and in an action statement.

  1. Schematics: diagrams, pictures, graphs, tables of items being studied

    1. Full Schematic

      1. A schematic is a diagram that is useful in helping the audience see what the product should look like.

      2. Schematics should be descriptively labeled with figure number, title, and brief description, or caption.

      3. It should provide the reader with items such as measurements, tables, cost, and a legend (if necessary).

    2. Parts List (optional depending upon the project)

      1. Include all parts needed to accomplish the project with cost and sources list.

  1. Solutions, paragraph form, longest section!

    1. Anticipated Difficulties 

      1. Inevitably, the audience will run into roadblocks. Let the reader know what possible problems are and offer descriptions as to how to remedy or avoid problems.

      2. In instructions manuals, Anticipated Difficulties may appear as Warnings, Cautions, Notes, or Danger statements are often found here.

    2. Evidence 

      1. What are the results of the investigation? Represent the findings.

      2. Usually a written/verbal representation of the information in the tables.

    3. Recommendations 

      1. Offer the reader solutions to the problem.

      2. Write complete sentences.

      3. Separate new recommendations in new paragraphs and develop thoroughly.

    4. Discussion

      1. Summary of the major points.

      2. Similar to writing a conclusion (Raimes, Section 3f).

  2. Supplementary Material

    1. References

      1. If parts 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 APA Documentation format. (See Raimes, section 4).

    2. Appendices (if applicable)

      1. Used to include in-depth definitions or diagrams that infer with the flow of the reading.

      2. Surveys, interviews, price lists, parts lists, and any other lengthy content may be placed in the appendices.

      3. Label Appendices by letter and place a reference to the appendices in the Table of Contents.

Sample Reports

The following web sites offer report guidelines and samples:

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updated september 2004