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Report Writing: Report writing

The basics on report writing for university

Report writing

There are many different types of reports, so before you start to work on a report for university, you should check the requirements for the course and the particular assessment task.

This guide provides a basic outline to report writing.

Generally, a report has the following elements:

1. TITLE PAGE - includes the subject of the report, who the report is for, the author (or authors if it is a group report), and the date of submission.

2. ABSTRACT - this is usually a single paragraph of 100-200 words and is a summary that gives the reader an understanding of the main points in the report. It should be written on a separate page with the centred heading ABSTRACT, and includes the following:

  • why the report has been written (ie what question or problem is it addressing?)
  • how the study was undertaken
  • what the main findings were
  • what is the significance of the findings

3. TABLE OF CONTENTS - indicates how the information in the report has been organised and what topics are covered. It should be set out on a separate page, and include a list of figures and a list of tables used in the report.

4. INTRODUCTION - The Introduction has three main components.

  • The Background - describes events leading up to the existing situation or problem, what projects have been done previously, and why the study or project is necessary.
  • The Purpose - defines what the project or study aims to achieve.
  • The Scope - outlines the limitations of the project, in terms of time, scale, cost etc.

5. BODY - basically this answers the questions - Who? Why? Where? When? What? How? - but it will vary depending on the kind of report. The information needs to be presented in a systematic way. Sub headings, dot points, or precise, formal sentences may be used - check the specific requirements for your assessment task.

6. CONCLUSION - a brief summary of the main points in descending order of importance.

7. RECOMMENDATIONS - suggest actions that follow naturally from the conclusions made above.

8. REFERENCES - the list of References is an accurate listing, in the correct Referencing style, of all the sources referred to in the report.

9. APPENDIX/APPENDICES - contains important data, explanations and illustrations not included in the main text of the report.