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How do I write my report?

You may find that different departments in the Faculty have slightly different requirements when setting a report assignment. Always read each assignment brief very carefully and ask questions if you are unsure about any aspect of the task.

Before beginning to write, it is important to first consider two questions. What is your purpose? Who is your audience or reader? The answers to these questions will influence the content, structure and style of your writing. Also when starting to work on your assignment, imagine you are writing a report for a relevant company, organisation, government department, client or colleague, then ask what does this audience need or want to know?

It is important to consider:

  • What is the assignment brief asking you to achieve?
  • What information is being asked for?
  • What problems may become evident or are you being asked to consider?
  • What solutions can you provide as a professional?
  • Who might want this information?

Learn to ask the right questions, as these will guide your research and problem solving.

Once you have answered many of the above questions you will begin to know the area to research and the style of writing you need to use. Each department or discipline within the Faculty may have guidelines or specific requirements for report writing which reflect the needs of the area or industry you are studying. If you are unsure of these guidelines, check your Unit Guide and discuss this with your tutor or studio co-ordinator.

The following are a few general points that are relevant to most reports:

  • Reports are usually written in an objective style using what we call the third person. This refers to the use of pronouns (he, she, it and they) and their corresponding verbs. This means it is recommended that you do not personalise the text by using the first person pronouns (I and we). For example:

    'I found…'  becomes  'It was found…'

    'I recommend…'  becomes  'It is recommended…'

  • The use of verb tenses can often be confusing. It is recommended that in reports, past tense verbs are used for all prior events. This means where a study or research is completed, it is reported in the past tense. However, the summary of the findings, conclusions and recommendations are written in the present tense as they are referring to present circumstances.
  • Your text should be clear and concise with careful and appropriate use of both general and professional vocabulary. Throughout your study, develop a glossary of discipline specific words to use when completing assignments.
  • A report will need to demonstrate good research skills and a clear research process. You will be expected to:
    • clearly state the task and the focus of your report, indicating aims and objectives which are appropriate to the task and area of study
    • demonstrate the appropriate use of relevant research material
    • acknowledge your sources using an approved referencing system
    • clearly explain the context and relevance of diagrams and images used to support the text, ensuring these are also given accurate citation
    • methodically analyse and apply the information gathered and clearly state solution options
    • give conclusions and be able to demonstrate the reasons why you have come to your decisions
    • demonstrate an accurate use of grammar, taking note of sentence structure, paragraphing, spelling and punctuation
    • address all the assignment instructions including formatting and word count details
    • edit your work using a checklist download a Word doucment paying particular attention to focus on the task, logical development of thought, and accuracy in content, referencing, citation, vocabulary, grammar and spelling.
  • When preparing to write a report, always begin with a plan. This should involve developing categories for investigation, which in turn will probably become your headings and subheadings in the body of your report.
  • Consistency of style and formatting is important. Decide how you will use headings, subheadings and the numbering of sections, and make sure you methodically structure your report throughout. Reports, including appendices, should be relevant, clearly structured and to the point, so the reader can find information efficiently.

Remember that although you may be completing an assignment for your course assessment, it is also an opportunity for you to develop good writing skills to take with you into your professional life.

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