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Report writing

Reports are a written commentary about an investigation into a particular topic, issue or event. Reports are based on facts and are often used to support decisions. Your lecturer may want you to follow a specific report structure so do check your assessment details, there are however 8 main parts to basic reports.

1. Executive summary

This summarises the main points of the report. The reader should have a fair idea about the content from reading this summary. This is written last.

2. Contents page

Includes main headings, appendices, list of figures and their page numbers. Use the styles functions in  Microsoft Word and  GoogleDocs to apply styles to main headings and generate a Contents page.

3. Introduction

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.

4. 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.

5. Methods

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)

6. Findings

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

7. Discussion

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.

8. Conclusion

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