Instructions for How to Write a Report

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Take the time to create a plan for writing a report. The Purdue University Online Writing Lab indicates that the amount of planning and effort you put into an assignment will show in the quality of the writing. The general writing process of pre-writing, drafting, editing, proofreading and publishing will help you navigate the task of creating high-quality reports.

  • Word processing software
  • Printer
  • Highlighter

1 Preparation

2 Generate a list

Generate a list of ideas on the report topic or create a semantic map. Create a map by placing the topic in the middle of a page, circling it, and drawing a branch out from it for each related idea, example, or word that describes the topic.

3 Collect research

Collect research from a variety of sources such as books, articles, reports, interviews with experts on the topic, tables, charts, speeches or statistical findings. Document the source of the research (title, chapter, page number, database collected from and format of research) so you have the information to properly cite the source.

4 Read and analyze the research

Read and analyze the research, highlighting, circling or underlining any important information.

5 Write or type an outline

Write or type an outline for the report using the research notes. Place the main idea and supporting statements in the primary outline sections; place supporting research under primary outline sections as subheads.

6 Writing

7 Write a draft of the report

Write a draft of the report based on the outline you created. Begin with a clear and concise introduction that provides the reader with the idea or purpose of the report. Begin each paragraph with a main idea, and follow with support from the research collected, citing sources as they are used. Conclude the report by restating the idea or purpose of the report.

8 Review and edit the report

Review and edit the report. Pay close attention to organization, logic, grammar, proper citation of sources and whether the report supports the purpose and will answer questions the reader may have on the topic. Revise the report if necessary.

9 Proofread the report

Proofread the report by identifying any errors in grammar, spelling and mechanics.

10 Write a reference page

Write a reference page of the cited sources. Use a style guide such as “Modern Language Association,” “Chicago Manual of Style,” or “American Psychological Association” to create the reference entries. Proofread the completed reference page.

11 Review the completed report

Review the completed report, including the reference page, and correct any errors.

12 Create a cover

Create a cover, or title, sheet for the report. Include the title of the report, author’s name and date.

13 Publish the report by printing a copy

Publish the report by printing a copy, uploading online, or deliver via e-mail.

  • Verify the reliability and authenticity of the research by checking for bias, flawed logic, or incorrect facts and data.
  • Use a grammar resource book such as "Bedford St. Martins."
  • Always cite sources that you quote and/or paraphrase.
  • Ask a friend to proofread the report and provide feedback.
  • Edit the draft a few hours or a day or two later to ensure a fresh perspective.

Since 2000 Jessica Tovar has worked as an advertising copywriter, editor and English teacher. She has been published in the "Illinois Reading Council Journal." Her expertise lies in advertising and literacy education. Tovar holds a Bachelor of Mass Communication from Texas State University, a Master of Education in literacy studies from the University of Houston and a Texas Educator Certificate in English language arts.