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10 Tips – Report Writing

10 Tips Series – Report Writing

Tip

Explanation

Example

1.  Don’t forget the title

All reports have titles.  This is an essential feature.  For formal reports, it’s best to follow the formula: ‘Report on’ / ‘Report about’…

 Report on the School’s Performance at the Debating Competition

2.  Use the passive voice

Reports are a good excuse to show off your skills using the passive.  Because reports are supposed to be objective, the passive is a good tool to use. 

The respondents were asked to rate how highly they thought of their teachers on a scale of 1 to 10.

3.  Refer to statistics 

Show that you’ve really understood the material you’re writing about by using statistics.

Recent studies have shown that over 50% of university students have experimented with drugs.

4.  Use reported speech

In a report you will often be reporting what other people have said.  Using direct quotes is OK, but reported speech shows a greater degree of sophistication.

During the meeting Mrs Lam informed us that the situation was getting more serious. 

5.  Use neutral language

Try to be as objective as possible – don’t use extreme adjectives like ‘great’ or ‘awesome’.  Don’t say that tourists ‘behave terribly’.

Respondents said that they were pleased with the economic benefits of tourism but were sometimes unhappy with the way tourists behaved.

6.  Use headings

It’s a good idea to split your report up into headings.  This makes it easier to read and sounds more professional.

1.  Reasons for the delay

   i.  Mechanical failure

   ii.  Confusion among ground staff

7.  Make suggestions

It’s important to remember why you are writing a report.  It’s not just for the fun of it.  You presumably want someone to do something in response to it. 

In view of the problems we have experienced, I would recommend hiring a new customer relations manager. 

8.  Keep it relevant 

Just stick to the main points.  If you’re reporting the minutes of a meeting, for example, you don’t need to record every single word that was said.

After the accountant had told us of the financial problems, the head master scratched his head and coughed slightly…

9.  Sum it up

Help your reader out by providing a summary at the end of the report.

As we have seen, most people are happy with the service we provide, but there are some improvements that must be made.

10.  It’s not a letter 

Reports do not need a salutation (“Dear Sir”) or a signature (“Yours sincerely”)

 Dear Sir

Yours sincerely

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