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Headings in the body of the report

Provide informative headings

As for the title, section headings should tell the reader exactly what type of information is contained in the section. They should be specific and content-focused rather than just labels. Devising informative headings as opposed to label headings right from the planning stage will help you to clarify exactly what you want to achieve in each section and subsection. Compare these pairs of headings:

Consumption patterns vs. Changes in water consumption patterns 1995-2005
Survey results vs. Results of peak hour turning movement survey

Example: Uninformative headings

  • The Organization
  • Management

Example: Informative headings

  • Overview of the Organization
  • Communication in the Organization
  • Groups in the Organization
  • Management Style and Methods

Make all headings consistent and parallel in structure

This means that headings should follow a similar grammatical form. In the following example, each heading is structured differently:

Example: Inconsistent headings

  • The Company Structure
  • Do the Communication Channels Work?
  • Participating in Groups
  • How to Develop an Effective Management Style
  • [ noun phrase]
  • [ question]
  • [ gerund phrase]
  • [ instruction heading]

Usually, it is not difficult to convert such headings to a common form. In this example, all have been changed to noun phrases. This is the most commonly used format for section headings in an informational report.

Example: Consistent headings

  • Company Structure
  • Communication Channels
  • Group Participation
  • Development of an Effective Management Style

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