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.
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.
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.
Read and analyze the research
Read and analyze the research, highlighting, circling or underlining any important information.
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.
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.
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.
Proofread the report
Proofread the report by identifying any errors in grammar, spelling and mechanics.
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.
Review the completed report
Review the completed report, including the reference page, and correct any errors.
Create a cover
Create a cover, or title, sheet for the report. Include the title of the report, author’s name and date.
Publish the report by printing a copy
Publish the report by printing a copy, uploading online, or deliver via e-mail.
- ['Word processing software', 'Printer', 'Highlighter']
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.
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.