Skip to content

Quick study guides

Share
Share

Features of reports

Text Version

Features of reports

This is an introductory guide to report writing. It provides some general advice on the content and structure of a report. It is recommended that you consult your Faculty Guidelines and/or Unit Guide for advice on the required report format for a particular unit.

Differences between the report and the essay

 

Report

Essay

Topic

  • often a problem or case study which sets up a hypothetical situation
  • based on reading, field work or practical work
  • responds to a question or a proposition
  • is based on research

Purpose

  • to investigate, analyse and present information
  • usually to make recommendations to solve a problem
  • to articulate a well-argued response to a question or proposition

Audience

  • established in the topic and is often a client or manager
  • an academic audience

Format

  • contains an executive summary or abstract
  • comprises sections with headings
  • may use bullet points, tables, graphs to convey information.
  • does not typically include sections or headings
  • does not typically include use bullet points, tables, graphs

Style

  • third person
  • formal language
  • third or first person
  • formal language

Assessment

Success depends on:

  • the demonstration of good research skills
  • the quality of the recommendations to respond to an issue
  • the presentation and analysis of relevant information

Success depends on:

  • the demonstration of good research skills
  • the identification of a cogent argument
  • the quality of reasoning and evidence
  • how well it analyses and evaluates the issue

 Features of reports

1.         Referencing and quotations in reports follow the same guidelines required for essays. 

2.         A system of numbered sections with headings is typically used.  Check the Faculty or Departmental Guidelines for an appropriate example for your discipline.

3.         Reports contain a title page, contents page, an executive summary or abstract, an introduction, a body, a conclusion and recommendations.

4.         Just as in the essay, a good report will describe, analyse and evaluate a problem or issue. Unlike an essay it will describe the method used to investigate the problem, and formulate a set of recommendations based on the findings of the report.

Typical report structures

Different types of reports typically include sections. The table below illustrates the section headings which may be included in different types of reports.

 

Business and technical reports

            Title page

             [Memos of Authorisation and Transmittal]

            Executive summary

            Table of contents

            Introduction

  • Purpose
  • Methodology
  • Limitations

            Findings and Discussion

            Conclusions

            Recommendations

            References

            Appendices

           

Laboratory reports

         Title page

         Abstract

         Introduction

  • Theoretical background
  • Aim of present research

          Method

  • Materials
  • Procedure

            Results and Discussion

            References

            Appendices

 

 

Technical reports

        Title page

        Summary

        Table of contents

         Introduction

  • Purpose
  • Problem description
  • Aim

      

        Review of previous research

        Presentation of solution

        Discussion

        Conclusions and

        Recommendations

        References

        Appendices

Note: Different types of reports are used in different subject areas. Check with your lecturers to clarify exactly what type of structure you are expected to follow.