A report is a concise piece of writing that uses facts and evidence to look at issues, situations, events, or findings. Reports are informative texts that analyze different topics with a specific purpose and audience.
Reports are a form of non-fiction and aim to be as objective as possible, focusing on facts. This differentiates them from other forms of non-fiction, such as essays, that are heavily opinionated (though they may use statistics and factual information to persuade).
How to Structure a Report
Reports are usually structured using subheadings, numbered sections, and subsections. In addition, critical information can be listed using bullet points, including features such as statistics, graphs, or quotes as evidence to support its analysis.
Reports also tend to follow a structure that progresses through the following sections:
- Introduction. State what the report is investigating and its aims and objectives. Also, identify your hypothesis (a theory you’re trying to prove).
- Methodology. Write about how you approached the investigation, collected data, and analyzed it. For example, if you got your data through a survey, you conducted, write about how many people you surveyed, where you found them, how they communicated with you and what you did with the information. You could have gone about this in more than one way, in which case you can use subtitles to break down the different methods you used.
- Results. What were your findings? This isn’t the part where you interpret or analyze what you found; you share the results of your investigation. Continuing with the above example, what did the survey participants say?
- Discussion. This is where you interpret the results. What insights do you have into the information you collected? Did it support the hypothesis that you wrote earlier?
- Summary. Without introducing any new information, summarise your findings and what you learned from the investigation. You can also include recommendations here that relate to your results.
This is commonly referred to as the IMRAD report structure (Introduction, Methodology, Results, and Discussion) and is the standard way to approach report writing. However, if unsure, check the required format with your teacher, professor, mentor, manager, etc.
What language should you use when writing a report?
Clear, objective language. Report writing should not include emotive words and should focus primarily on being transparent, accurate, and concise. This is because the goal of a report is to communicate the facts, as opposed to convincing readers to think or feel a certain way. Aim to use Standard English and a straightforward vocabulary.