Reports are designed to be read quickly and easily. Often only parts of a report are read in detail. Reports therefore vary from essays as they have a more formal layout and normally use numbering (of both pages and sections) and heading and sub-headings to indicate sections.
Reports often include:
- Title page
The title page is brief but explicit. Include your name, date, module, course and for whom the report is written.
- List of contents with section and page numbers. If there are
charts, diagrams or tables included in your report, these should be listed separately under a title such as ‘List of Illustrations’ together with the page numbers on which they appear.
Acknowledgements are only included if appropriate.
- Summary or abstract
This is very important and can be the only section of a report read in detail. It is normally written when the report is finished. This should be a short paragraph summarising the main contents of the report. It should include a short statement of the main task, the methods used, conclusions reached and any recommendations to be made. It should contain the ‘essential ideas’ of the report, and is NOT the introduction.
The introduction sets the scene and includes the aims and objectives of the report. Also, define the limits of the report, outline the method of enquiry, give a brief general background to the subject of the report and indicate the proposed development.
- Main body
The main body of the report illustrates how a project was undertaken. It normally includes a literature review, explanation of methodology used, discussion and analysis of findings. It should be ordered logically with each section being clearly linked. It should include evidence and where appropriate figures, tables, graphs and illustrations.
The conclusion draws out the implications from the report and normally recommends a course of action. It should link back to the introduction.
- Reference list
This should be a list of all material that you have directly cited in the text of you work. If you need a reminder on the difference between citing and referencing, have a look at part 3.3
Appendices contain supporting information, such as transcripts of interviews, results of surveys, a glossary and results from experiments.