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Report writing

Reports are a written commentary about an investigation into a particular topic, issue or event. They are based on facts and are often used to support decisions.  Note that each section of  report has a particular purpose and includes specific information. This resource includes different sections which may or may not be applicable to your task. Your lecturer may want you to follow a specific report structure so do check your assessment details.

Cover letter/memo

This outlines the topic and  scope of the report. It includes who authorised the report and date.  Let the reader know who contributed to the report and that further information may be provided if required.

Title page

This page should state the title  – be concise clearly describing  the focus of  report.  You could write this title about a third of the way from the top of the page.  Include your name, name of the person you are writing the report for and the date towards the bottom of the page.

Executive summary

This summarises the main points of the report. This may include the aims, objectives and findings or recommendations. The reader should have a fair idea about the content from reading this summary. This is written last. A common error that students make is to describe to format of the report.

Contents page

Includes main headings (e.g. Introduction, Discussion, Conclusion), appendices (if applicable), list of figures (if applicable) and their page numbers. Use the styles functions in  Microsoft Word and  GoogleDocs to apply styles to main headings and generate a Contents page. Refer to your assignment task to see what the requirements are. Numbering is used to divide the different sections of the report.


This specifies the scope of the report and outlines how the report is structured. When defining the scope, give reasons for why you have focused on the areas that you did so the reader can understand why you didn’t focus on areas that fall outside of your scope.

Background information

This section contextualises the report drawing on relevant background information that the reader should know to understand the topic, issue and/or event that was investigated. This might include a review of relevant literature.In some reports a brief background information may be inlcuded in the introduction.

Methods (if applicable)

This section describes how you conducted your investigation. Think of it as a map to be used by someone who wants to complete a similar investigation. This section should include:

  • Information sources you referred to (official documentation, websites etc)
  • Data collection methods (interviews etc)

Findings (if applicable)

This section includes your findings based on the methods you employed to conduct your investigation. You are stating the facts as you observed them. Your findings should appear unbiased and objective language should be used:

Do this Not this
It was identified that She said that


This section elaborates on your Findings. Your Findings section states the facts, the Discussion section expands on what your Findings mean in relation to the context and scope of your investigation. The context and scope are key parts to include in the Introduction and Background Information sections of the report.

Conclusion and Recommendations

This section summarises the major findings of your report and their importance. The Conclusion should not contain any new information however you might include recommendations and/or suggestions for further research.

Further information