General writing (Language and Learning Online)

General writing

General writingThese general tutorials will help you improve your ability to write at university. Choose from tutorials on any of the following:





Report writing

There are many different types of reports - scientific lab reports, business reports, systems analysis reports, management case study reports, feasibility studies, client case work reports. All of these different reports have their own formats and conventions.

In this tutorial you can examine a sample first-year management case study report. The report received a grade of High Distinction. Comment is made by the subject lecturer and Language and Learning staff on the structure, presentation, and expression used in the report, and improvements are suggested.

In your field of study, you will need to find out exactly what the accepted report conventions are. Note that these conventions may vary from one subject to the next.





Case study report

Read this sample case study report and click on the highlighted text to see comments about the report.

[1]Portable computer Use at client sites

[2]Prepared for Freda Smith, general manager

[3]by Belinda Gibson, training coordinator

[4]March, 1998

[5]All purpose training company


[6]MEMORANDUM

To: Belinda Gibson, Training Coordinator

From: Freda Smith, General Manager

[7]Subject: Portable Computers

[8]Date: January 29 2003


To make the most of the technologies we discussed the other day to provide a quality service to our customers, it is essential that our training staff be equipped with portable computers which can be used at client sites.

Over the next couple of weeks, please investigate the portable computers which would be most appropriate for our staff, and present your findings in the form of a formal management report. The selected machine needs to be compatible with the Windows software we are currently using. Other factors which should be considered when comparing the brands and models include:

With our training staff so often out at client sites, it would be useful if the machines also had modern facilities to enable staff to access their email.

Please pass the report to me by the end of the month so I can read it over before discussing your recommendations with the equipment committee. Let me know if you have any questions.

Freda


[9]MEMORANDUM

To: Freda Smith, General Manager

From: Belinda Gibson, Training Coordinator

[10]Subject: Portable Computers

[11]Date: March 26 2003


[12]Here is the report you requested on the use of portable computers for our training staff to use at client sites.

[13]Two portable computers were reviewed for this report: the Micro-pro 8500 Series and the Hewlett Packard 3000CTX model 5/233, both suitable for business purposes.

[14]The report has analysed standard features on both computers, taking your specifications into consideration.

[15]I am confident that with the use of portable computers our training staff will produce a higher standard of training presentations.

[16]I would be happy to assist with the implementation of the computers for our training staff to use at future courses.

Belinda Gibson


Table of contents
[17]Memo of authorisation [18]i
Memo of transmittal ii
[19]List of tables iv
[20]Executive summary v
1 Introduction 1
[21]1.1 Purpose 1
1.2 Scope 1
1.3 Method 1
1.4 Limitations 1
1.5 Assumptions 1
1.6 Background 1
2 Findings 2
2.1 Micro-pro 8500 Series 2
2.2 Hewlett Packard 3000CTX 5/233 2
3 Discussion 3
3.1 Comparison of computers 3
3.2 Initial cost 3
3.3 Weight and size 3
3.4 Screen size 3
3.5 Clarity of screen image 3
3.6 RAM and hard disk size 4
3.7 Speed of the CPU 4
3.8 Battery capability 4
3.9 Service agreements and warranties 4
4 Conclusion 4
5 Recommendations and implementation 5
[22]References 7

[23]List of tables

Table 1: Comparison of two portable computers


[24]Executive summary

[25]The purpose of this report was to analyse two portable computers and recommend a suitable machine for training staff to use at client sites.

[26]This report has considered two machines suitable for corporate use that can accommodate modern facilities such as e-mail, video conferencing and assist staff with training courses.

[27]The Hewlett Packard Omnibook 3000CTX model 5/233 is a well made portable computer with a good size screen and keyboard. For the price of this model you would expect to see more memory, a CD drive and a Windows based power management set up. (Australian PC Authority, April 1998, 'PCs and Notebooks - Reviews', p.82)

Like the Hewlett Packard model the Micro-pro 8500 Series has a good size screen and keyboard but also comes witha numeric pad. This machine is ideal for the business user who wants usability, comfort and performance. (Australian PC Authority, April 1998, 'PCs and Notebooks - Reviews' , p.81)

[28]After taking both machines into consideration, it is recommended that the Micro-pro 8500 Series would be the most suitable computer due to its value for money, durability and standard features.


1 Introduction

[29]1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this report was to analyse two portable computers and recommend a suitable machine for our training staff to use at client locations.

[30]1.2 Scope

While investigating these two computers it was important to consider their suitability for corporate use, standard features, optional benefits and warranties.

[31]1.3 Method

The information used in this report was collected by consulting an independent review by the Australian PC Authority magazine and contacting the individual companies for additional information on the technical specifications and warranties on the machines.

[32]1.4 Limitations

[33]1.5 Assumptions

It has been assumed that the Microsoft Office software package will be installed on the computers to ensure our training staff have access to PowerPoint. This program will enable them to present effective teaching media.

As our staff regularly use computer applications it has been assumed that the implementation of portable computers will cause little delays for the company.

As most computer companies offer clients an extended warranty, it is assumed that All Purpose Training Company will have the option to purchase an extended warranty for a period of one year.

[34]1.6 Background

[35]The All Purpose Training Company is a well respected supplier of quality executive training courses for the business community. The All Purpose Training Company has statewide representation with plans to expand interstate within the next 12 months.

[36]All Purpose Training Company has a demand to supply new clients with numerous training courses. With such demands it is crucial that training staff can have computer access for training presentations and be able to complete day to day operations while mobile.


2. Findings

[37]2.1 Micro-pro 8500 Series

2.2 Hewlett Packard 3000CTX 5/233


[42]3 Discussion

3.1 Comparison of computers

The following table summarises the important points of comparison between the two portable computers - Hewlett Packard Omnibook and Micropro 8500 Series.

Table 1: Comparison of two portable computers
Hewlett Packard Omnibook Micropro 8500 Series
Initial cost $8245 $7895
Weight 3.1 Kg 4.5 Kg
Size (Dimensions WxDxH) 304 x 238 x 47mm 357 x 275 x 50mm
Screen Size 13.3" 15.1"
RAM 16 Mb 64 Mb
Battery Time 2.5 Hours 2.5 Hours
Warranty Period 3 Years 2 Years

[43]3.2 Initial cost

There is a RRP difference between the two computers of $350. In order to have the computers ready for staff use, upgraded memory size would be required on the Hewlett Packard model.

3.3 Weight and size

The Micro-pro computer weighs an extra 1.4 Kg. This is substantially heavier, but the Micro-pro is a larger machine with each dimension larger than the Hewlett Packard computer. Micro-pro measures 53W x 37D x 3H mm larger.

3.4 Screen size

There is a notable gap between screen sizes. Micro-pro has a 14.1 inch screen compared with Hewlett Packards 13.3 inch screen. When using over long periods a larger screen is preferred to avoid eye strain.

3.5 Clarity of screen image

[44]The resolution on both machines is set a 1,024 x 768. Pixels can be seen on the Micro-pro model, while the Omnibook is reasonably easy to read. (Australian PC Authority, April 1998, PCs and Notebooks - Reviews, p. 81 - 82)

3.6 RAM and hard disk size

RAM between the two machines varies greatly. The Australian PC Authority states that the Micro-pro comes with 64 Mb of RAM standard, with an option of buying the maximum 128 Mb for $1140. They also state Hewlett Packards Omnibook comes with 16 Mb RAM, but as most computer applications require 32 Mb, this extra memory [57]will cost you $242. Both machines come with a standard 3.5" FDD. Only the Micro-pro machine comes with a CD-ROM drive, [58]you must buy this as an extra for the Omnibook for a cost of $570. [45] (Australian PC Authority, April 1998, PCs and Notebooks - Reviews, p. 81- 82)

3.7 Speed of the CPU

With 32 Mb of RAM fitted the Omnibook is one of the fastest portable computers the Australian PC Authority magazine has ever seen, They also found that with 64 Mb RAM the Micro-pro was not exceptionally quick but for word processing and other office tasks it was quite acceptable.

3.8 Battery capability

Both machines come with a standard lithium-ion battery which can support the computers for up to 2.5 hours. The computers come with power management tools that will save battery power. A smart battery option is available on the Micro-pro for $60. [46](Australian PC Authority, April 1998, PCs and Notebooks - Reviews, p. 81)

3.9 Service agreements and warranties

Micro-pro supplies their clients with a two year part and labour warranty, while Hewlett Packard supplies a three year parts and labour warranty. It is assumed that when the machines are purchased a service agreement will be negotiated with the option to extend the warranty.


[56]4. Conclusion

[47]After investigating the Hewlett Packard Omnibook 3000CTX 5/233 and the Micro-pro 8500 Series portable computers, it was found that both models are suitable for corporate use and would meet All Purpose Training Company requirements.

[48]It is important to consider the long term benefits to the company when considering which computer was best suited. Apart from initial purchasing expenses, warranty, speed, size and memory were some factors which have been taken into account. Software suitability was also considered.

The computers had to be easily adaptable for new technology such as e-mail, video conferencing and presentation aids, for future company requirements.

[49]Both computers are distinct from each other and, although both companies have the corporate user in mind, Micro-pro appears to be offering an exceptional package.


[50]5. Recommendations and implementation

The findings and conclusion in this report support the following recommendations:

  1. [51]The Micro-pro 8500 Series portable computer [52]is purchased at a rate of one computer per training staff member.
  2. The smart battery option [53] is purchased with each computer; this will assist with heavy workloads and long training programs.
  3. Staff must have e-mail access on their computers to enable them to be in contact with the company.
  4. All Purpose Training Company should negotiate price, warranty and on going service agreements with Micro-pro direct.
  5. To reduce company long term expenses:
  6. Computers should be available to staff after a maximum of 6 weeks.

[55]References

  1. Australian PC Authority, April 1998, PCs and Notebooks - Reviews, p. 81 - 82.
  2. Micro-pro, 1998, 8500 Series Brochure, Micro-pro Computer (Imports) Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia.
  3. Gray, K. 1998, Director, Turnstone Technologies Pty Ltd, Australia.
  4. Stephen, 1998, Customer Service Officer, Hewlett Packard Information Centre, Hewlett Packard, Australia.
  5. Guffey, M. 1997, Business Communication: Process and Product, South - Western College Publishing, Ohio, USA.
  6. Kimberly, N. and Cotesta, P, 1998, Student Q Manual, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, Caulfield, Australia.
  7. Distance Education Centre, 1998, Business Communication Subject Guide, Monash University, Churchill, Australia.
[1]

Portable computer Use at client sites

The title of the report

Be consistent in your use of capitals and lower case letters: Portable computer use at client sites

[2]

Prepared for Freda Smith, general manager

the name and position of the person who authorised the report
[3]

by Belinda Gibson, training coordinator

the name and position of the person who prepared the report
[4]

March, 1998

the report completion date
[5]

All purpose training company

the name of the company

Be consistent in your use of capitals and lower case letters. The company name is: All Purpose Training Company

[6]

MEMORANDUM

The Memo of Authorisation is a formal request to research and analyse information and to present the findings and recommendation(s) in report form. It may be written by an employer, by a client, or, for a student assignment, by a lecturer.
[7]

Subject

Usually, the subject is placed after the date in a memo.
[8]

Date

To avoid confusion with numbers, the date could be written: 29 January 2003. Alternatively, use a comma: January 29, 2003.
[9]

MEMORANDUM

The Memo of Transmittal notifies the client that the report has been completed as requested. It is placed after the Memo of Authorisation and before the Table of Contents.
[10]

Subject

Usually, the subject is placed after the date in a memo.
[11]

Date

To avoid confusion with numbers, the date could be written: 26 March 2003. Alternatively, use a comma: March 26, 2003.
[12]

The opening sentence should remind the client of the subject and date of the Memo of Authorisation. This sentence should read:

Here is the report you requested on January 29 on the use of portable computers by our training staff at client sites.
[13]

This sentence briefly states what was done. The past simple tense is used here to describe completed actions.
[14]

This sentence briefly states what has been done. The present perfect tense is used here to describe actions which have a present impact. The analysis will lead to a choice of computer.
[15]

This paragraph expresses confidence in the future benefits of portable computers. It adds a positive note to the memo.

(If you wish to acknowledge people who provided information or other assistance with the preparation of the report, you can do so before the closing sentence.)

[16]

The courteous close is followed by a signature.
[17]

Memo of authorisation

For consistency, these two headings should read:



Memo of Authorisation

Memo of Transmittal
[18]

i

Use Roman numerals for the preliminary pages of the report and number the Introduction page 1.
[19]

List of tables

A Table of Contents should include a list of any figures or tables appearing in the report.

In this report, a List of Tables is presented on a separate page following the Table of Contents. The page number is referenced within the Table of Contents before the Executive Summary.

Alternatively, the List of Tables is sometimes presented as the last item within a Table of Contents. With this format, if the list is short, it is not necessary to use a separate page for the detailed list.

[20]

Executive summary

The student uses a formatting style to highlight the structure of the report - major headings are bolded and numbered.
[21]

1.1 Purpose

The decimal numbering system is used for each subheading
[22]

References

An unnumbered section heading is used for the References List.
[23]

List of tables

The List of Tables contains the names and page numbers of all tables appearing in the report. If illustrations are used in a report, these are presented as a separate List of Figures.
[24]

Executive summary

The Executive Summary is designed to give the busy executive a brief overview of the report.

This Executive Summary includes:

[25]

The opening sentence contains a statement of purpose, which is expressed in the past tense.
[26]

This sentence gives a brief description of what has been done in this report. The present perfect tense is used here to describe actions which have a present impact. The analysis has led to a choice of computer.

Note that the student has summarised the principal portable computer requirements stated in the Memo of Authorisation.

[27]

A summary of the findings is presented in the next two paragraphs.

Note that information included in the executive summary is not usually referenced since the source has been acknowledged in the body of the report.

[28]

A recommendation is presented in the final sentence.

Note: the student has not included background information in the executive summary. Such information belongs in the introduction.

[29]

1.1 Purpose

The Introduction provides essential background information, including why the study or project was undertaken and what methods were used to gather the information. The sections required in the introduction vary, depending on the type of report and the department to which you belong.

Purpose: The purpose is usually stated in one sentence.

[30]

1.2 Scope

Scope: This tells the reader the extent of the research. Here, two portable computers were investigated and four features were considered.
[31]

1.3 Method

Method: This describes how the information was gathered. The student consulted a computer journal and contacted individual companies for more detailed information.
[32]

1.4 Limitations

Limitations: This tells the reader what the researcher was not able to do, due to lack of time and resources. The student has pointed to unavailability of information as a limiting factor.
[33]

1.5 Assumptions

Assumptions: 'To assume' is to accept as being true without proof. This student has assumed that the Microsoft Office software will be used, that delays will be minimal and that an extended warranty can be purchased.
[34]

1.6 Background

Background: This is closely related to the Purpose. It may include information about the company for whom the report has been prepared and the factors leading to the need for the report.
[35]

The first paragraph of this section briefly sets the scene, pointing to the company's plans for expansion.
[36]

The second paragraph explains the new requirements which have made this report necessary.
[37]

2.1 Micro-pro 8500 Series

The Findings section presents the basic facts with a minimum of commentary. The implications of these facts are examined in the Discussion section.

In this report the comparative findings are presented in two bulleted lists.

(In a different context it may be more appropriate to use numbered paragraphs rather than bullet points, particularly if the information being presented is more complex or more detailed than that in this report.)

The section could have been improved by including some additional comments (in paragraph form) to introduce the comparative findings, and to highlight in a general way where the differences were most evident.

Table form is another useful way to present comparative findings in a report.

[38]

When using the Harvard or Author-Date system of referencing, only the author, date, and page number should be included. In this case, the reference should be written as follows:

(Australian PC Authority, 1998, p 81).

In this example, the author is an organisation. Note that the full stop should be placed after the reference, not before.

[39]

When using the Harvard or Author-Date system of referencing, only the author, date, and page number should be included. In this case, the reference should be written as follows:

(Australian PC Authority, 1998, p 81).

In this example, the author is an organisation. Note that the full stop should be placed after the reference, not before.

[40]

When using the Harvard or Author-Date system of referencing, only the author, date and page number should be included. In this case, the reference should be written as follows:

(Australian PC Authority, 1998, p 81).

In this example, the author is an organisation. Note that the full stop should be placed after the reference, not before.

[41]

When reference is made to a personal communication, the surname of the person concerned should be included and the reference presented as follows:

(Smith, S. 1998, pers. comm., 7 May)

[42]

3 Discussion

The Discussion section comments on the significance of the Findings in relation to the research question.
[43]

3.2 Initial cost

In sections 3.2 - 3.9, the student discusses the differences between the two models and points to their relative advantages and disadvantages. The comparison is based on the eight criteria listed in the Findings section.
[44]

When using the Harvard or Author-Date system of referencing, only the author, date, and page number should be included. In this case, the reference should be written as follows:

(Australian PC Authority, 1998, pp. 81-82).

In this example, the author is an organisation. Note that the full stop should be placed after the reference, not before.

[45]

When using the Harvard or Author-Date system of referencing, only the author, date, and page number should be included. In this case, the reference should be written as follows:

(Australian PC Authority, 1998, pp. 81-82).

In this example, the author is an organisation. Note that the full stop should be placed after the reference, not before

[46]

When using the Harvard or Author-Date system of referencing, only the author, date, and page number should be included. In this case, the reference should be written as follows:

(Australian PC Authority, 1998, p 81).

In this example, the author is an organisation. Note that the full stop should be placed after the reference, not before.

[47]

This conclusion begins with a general statement summing up the Findings.

[48]

The next two paragraphs refer briefly to the requirements stated in the Memo of Authorisation.
[49]

The final paragraph states a preference for one of the computers.
[50]

5. Recommendations and implementation

The Recommendations section lists the suggested actions in order of importance. The Implementation states how and when these actions are to be taken.
[51]

The recommendation placed first is regarded as the most important.
[52]

This should be rephrased as ' should be purchased'. The same comment applies to Recommendation 2. In a list such as this all items should be parallel in grammatical structure.
[53]

This should be rephrased as ' should be purchased'. The same comment applies to Recommendation 1. In a list such as this all items should be parallel in grammatical structure.
[54]

This should be rephrased as ' Staff could have the option of ...' to match the grammatical structure of the other item in Recommendation 5.
[55]

References

The Reference List includes all sources cited in the report. It should be on a separate page.

Comments

This reference list requires a number of revisions in order for it to conform to appropriate style conventions:

[56]

The Conclusion sums up the main points which have emerged from the Findings and the Discussion. In some reports, it may be combined with Recommendations.

[57]

This is a report, not a personal letter, and the word 'you' is not appropriate to the formal tone you need here. Change this phrase to "will cost $242"

[58]

Again, to maintain a formal tone, better not to use 'you' - use the passive instead: "for the Omnibook this must be bought as an extra, for a cost of $570."

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