Report writing is the art of recording an event or activity that has taken place through the use of conventional means and methods of writing.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a report as a statement of the results of an investigation or any matter on which definite information is required.
It is the documentation of this ‘statement of…results” that constitutes the main aim of report writing. Here, we shall first identify different types of report writing and then examine while different styles that may be used for the exercise are examined.
Furthermore, we will go on to explore different ways of collating materials will be explored before presenting different formatting techniques used in the exercise.
Types of Report Writing
Broadly speaking, report writing may be classified as technical or non-technical. While non-technical report writing is informal, technical report writing is very formal.
In educational, especially academic circles, it is the latter that comes to mind whenever report writing is mentioned. Nonetheless, there are different types of technical report writing covering: Laboratory (research or experimentation),
Hardcore Technical (subject-specific research), Industrial (research or experience) or Field Trip (research or experience). In spite of their variety, all these forms of report writing share certain features in terms of style and format.
Style and Format
Style relates to language choice and use. There is no restriction as to the choice of language in which report should be written; virtually any written language could serve the purpose.
Language use, on the other hand, is more restrictive. The report writer must use standard language. It should be formal, but not unnecessarily complex. In fact, simple, comprehensible language is highly recommended.
In report writing, there is a standard format, which is universally accepted. The report comes in book-form with sections appearing in the following serial order; Title page, acknowledgement, Table of content, abstract, introduction[including background information; literature review; theoretical framework],methodology, Results or findings, Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations, References and Appendices.
To illustrate a Non-Technical Report, we present a newspaper correspondent’s report (note the structure and languages)
Obasanjo Commissiona N24b Ibom Power Plant
From Taiwo Hassan Uyo
The nation inched forward towards achieving 10000 Mega Watts (MW) power generation capacity target by the end of this year, as President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday in Uyo, AkwaIbom State capital, commissioned the State’s Independent Power Project (IPP), expected to add 191 MW to the national grid.
The plant, which is the first phase of the Ibom Power Project, cost $19.1 million (24.4 million) and is expected to be connected to the national grid in July, when it will fully come on (stream)
Construction on the second phase is billed to take off in 24 months time with an installed capacity for 586MW at an estimated cost of $400 million….
Write the title that contains catching information. Apart from the title of the report, the title page contains information such as the name of the author[sometimes indicating titles held and institutional address],the sponsor, programme or context within which the report is done and the date [especially the month and year].
This is the section that gives the writer an opportunity to thank individuals or bodies that rendered service or assistance during the collection of information and subsequent write-up of the report. It is important to acknowledge the receiver/reader.
Table of contents
Make a table of content of your opinion. All sections and sub-sections of the report are including their titles and the pages where they are located. Tables and Figures are entered separately on the list.
Write a well-formed abstract that will catch the interest of the reader. The abstract page contains a summary of the entire report, highlighting what it set out to do, how it did it, what the major findings or result were and what it could, therefore, conclude and recommend.
Write a good introduction that will lure the reader to your purpose. The introduction is the section that opens the gate to what the research has to offer.
It may include such sub-section as: Background information, Literature Review, Theoretical Framework, and Statement of the Problem, Aims and objectives, Delimitation of the Study and Significance of the Study, depending on the nature of the report.
Write the method how you will come about your result in the report.This is the section of the report that describes how the investigation was carried out: the types of instrument used (e.g questionnaire or interview); sample selection and the method of analysis adopted.
Results or Findings
Show how you get your result. Result or findings are presented sequentially, sometimes with the aid of Tables, Graphs, Pie Charts, Bar Charts and Diagrams.
Discuss your result clearly. The sub-section may sometimes be merged with “results or findings”. The important thing is that results or findings should not just be simply presented – they should be rigorously discussed and analyzed.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Make a recommendation in your conclusion. The section closes the report after giving a summary of what was presented, highlighting the major findings and the conclusions that could be deduced from them.
Recommendations as to what still needs to be done by future studies or the possible solutions to matters yet unresolved are stated in this section may be separated from the recommendations section.
References are all the written materials alluded to in the body of the report. Details of author’s name (surname first), title of the material, place of publication, publication (and in case of journal articles, volume and page numbers) are supplied in this section.
References are arranged alphabetically, based on authors’ surnames. References list may use any of the well-known referencing formats such as American Psychological Association (APA), Turabian Citation, Modern Language Association (MLA), Internet Citation Formats, etc. It is important to detail the sources of your information.
Appendices constitute supplementary information which the writer put at the disposal of the disposal of the reader of the report. These may include details of interview questions or questionnaire items used in the study or maps and other illustrative materials. Write the appendices where necessary.