Report Writing: Style and Structure

Report Writing: Style and Structure Summary Writing a report can seem daunting at first, but with a solid understanding of the fundamental structure and style used in constructing clear and concise reports, it can be achieved. The standard report format is as follows: Title, Summary, Introduction, Body, Conclusions, Recommendations, Appendix, References and Table of Contents. We will first look at how to prepare a report before the writing begins. Learning objectives At the end of the session, students will be able to: • Write with a specific purpose and audience in mind • Structure sentences, paragraphs and reports Write clearly and concisely Purpose and audience Before writing a report you should first identify some key factors, which will help you plan your approach and write with clarity. The first question you should ask yourself is, “what is the purpose of the report? ” Purpose “What is it about, and what is it for? ” It is beneficial to establish the purpose of your report before you start writing, so that you can think clearly on the subject, and produce a report styled to fit the needs of your purpose. Recognize what your report is for, (informing, instructing, guiding) and focus your writing on explaining the details.

If for example, you want to write an instructional report for a team of colleagues, you know that you must focus your writing on providing clear concise instructions, which will allow your reader to comprehend the processes that you are describing. Audience “Who are you writing for? ” The second question you should ask yourself is, “who is going to read this report and why? ” Knowing your audience will help you determine how long your report should be, how it should be presented, and what level of terminology you should use to best attract and maintain the interest of your reader.

If for example, you are writing a report to inform policy makers, you would want to focus on presenting your evidence clearly and concisely. We will now try an exercise on identifying audience and purpose: Exercise one Malaria Prevention You are a Health worker at the Ministry Of Health and have been asked to write a report on Malaria. You have access to the figures on Malaria incidents in the Country over the last five years, as well as access to the latest info on drugs and other barriers to prevent Malaria. 1. Describe the purpose of your report, and identify your audience.

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Avoid extraneous words, and parentheses that do not add to your point. • Don’t leave it hanging. Sentence fragments can be just as confusing as run-on sentences. Make sure that you have completed your sentence and that it makes sense, before closing it out. For a comprehensive explanation of the inner workings of sentences and grammar, you can visit the links below. Sentence help: http://www2. actden. com/writ_den/tips/sentence/index. htm Grammar help: http://www. speakspeak. com/html/d10_english_grammar. htm We will now look over some common errors that can convolute sentences and obscure meaning.

Sentence Fragment “Mark has finished his work on time. Since he started planning ahead. ” The second sentence is a fragment here, because it does not contain enough information to complete a thought. Most sentence fragments are phrases that belong to the previous thought. To correct the problem in this instance, we simply remove the period. Correct “Mark has finished his work on time since he started planning ahead. ” Run-on sentence “Jane loves Tom he is a good friend. ” A run-on sentence occurs when you have two complete sentences that are not separated by correct punctuation.

In this case we can correct it with a comma and a linking word, or by using a period. Correct “Jane loves Tom, because he is a good friend. ” “Jane loves Tom. He is a good friend. ” Exercise 2 Correct the following sentence fragments and run-on sentences. We will play Cricket tomorrow. If it doesn’t rain. In our survey we contacted 212 members of government 110 members of government responded. In order to obtain funding. You have to write clear concise reports. Michael loves to write reports he is talented at it and his wife’s name is Shelly. Structuring Sentences, Paragraphs and Reports Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. ” The diagram below is an excellent example on how to write clearly and logically. We will now look at each part of this “map” and then see how the pieces come together. [pic] Introduction Introductory paragraph The introduction should explain the general ideas to come, as well as your thesis statement, which tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the report. The rest of the report should gather evidence and organize a case around your thesis statement. Topic sentences

A topic sentence is like a mini introduction to the body of your paragraph. Your topic sentence should explain what the body of the paragraph will cover, (just like your introduction explains what to expect in the report). It is a good idea to “map” out your report, by first writing topic sentences for each of the different paragraphs or sections of your report. 2. Body Support sentences Support sentences are the body of paragraphs. This is the section of your report that serves to provide evidence and examples that reinforce your thesis statement. Support sentences are also used to clearly explain and underpin main ideas. . Conclusion Concluding sentences The concluding sentence is used to reiterate the main points developed by the support sentences, and signal the end of a paragraph. They are also useful for adding emphasis to certain key points, through repetition. We will now look at how to create the different parts of a report outside of the general writing, which are: Title, Summary, Recommendations, Appendix, References, and Table of Contents. Title The title is your first contact with the reader, and should inform them succinctly about what they are about to read. Summary

The purpose of a summary is to provide an overview of the report. It is not necessary to give detailed information in the summary, but rather to provide an indication of the type of information that the report contains. Average summaries are between 100-150 words, and are generally written after the report has been completed, so that you know exactly what you are summarizing. Recommendations Recommendations are not an essential part of a report; however, if you are including one, it should follow from your conclusion. A brief statement clearly declaring your recommendations will suffice.

Appendix An appendix contains materials that are peripheral, but relevant to your report. For example you may wish to include a glossary of terms in your appendix if you are writing a technical report for those who are not experts on the subject. You may also include copies of research tools such as questionnaires and manuals, as well as tables and diagrams that you feel would disrupt the flow of your report by breaking it up. If your appendix does contain tables, diagrams etc. , make sure to label them properly, so that the can easily be found when referenced.

References If you have consulted or quoted any media sources, (print or otherwise) to help you compile your report, they must be acknowledged here, as well as in the text. Citing your resources not only avoids running into plagiarism issues, but strengthens your work by backing up your report with evidence from the work of others. If you are quoting directly from someone else, the quote must be followed by the author’s surname and date of publication in round brackets, e. g. Calvino (1983). A standard bibliography is an alphabetized list ordered by Author’s surnames.

For a book you must include: the author’s surname and full name, or initials; the full title of the book; the edition (if other than the first); the place of publication; the publisher, and the date of publication, e. g. Calvino, Italo. Palomar. Torino: S. P. A. , 1983. For a complete guide to correct citation, visit: http://www. liu. edu/cwis/CWP/library/workshop/citmla. htm Table of Contents A table of contents is a page containing numbers that correspond to different parts of your report, allowing readers to jump between sections quickly.

Number and title the different portions of your report, (such as “1. 2 Medical advancements in treating Malaria” “1. 3 Government funding for treating Malaria” “2. 1 References” etc. ) and then create a corresponding list of contents that lists the page number as well as the reference number, which should be sequential, starting from the summary. A good starting point for mapping out your table of contents is to do it corresponding to your topic sentences. Below is an example of a “mapped” checklist that puts all of the steps we have learned together followed by a table of contents.

It is a good guidance tool to use when preparing to write a report. The “mapped” checklist is modeled on the Malaria prevention exercise we completed earlier. “Mapped” Checklist for Malaria Prevention 1. Who is it for? Health workers in district offices. 2. What is it about? Malaria prevention – success stories over the last five years. 3. Title Let’s Win the Battle Against Malaria 4. Summary This report attempts to examine the benefits and drawbacks between different methods of combating malaria in Southern Africa, including rate of success, time, cost, and other socio-economic factors. 5. Introduction

Exploring the methods for evaluating available options for combating malaria, and the relative successes of different options over the past five years. 6. Topic sentences 1. Insecticide treated nets have been proven to protect people from malaria, by both preventing physical contact, and killing the mosquito. 2. Community based work projects to reduce mosquito breeding grounds have been successful. 3. Indoor residual spraying remains one of the most widely used methods of vector control. 4. All of the discussed methods for the prevention of malaria work to some degree, but is it more beneficial to take a proactive or reactive stance? . What is the most successful and cost effective way to combat malaria, and how can we implement these measures? 6. With community work and adequate resources, malaria could be greatly reduced over the next decade. 7. Conclusion Having examined the different malaria prevention methods, and weighing their pros and cons, there are many possible solutions. 8. Recommendations 9. Appendix 10. References Table of Contents for Malaria Prevention ContentsPage no Summary………………………………………………………………………………. 2 Contents……………………………………………………………………………….. 3 1. Introduction…………………………………………………………………………. 4 2.

Prevention methods…………………………………………………………………. 5 2. 1 Insecticide treated nets………………………………………………………………………. 5 2. 2 Community based work projects……………………………………………. 6 2. 3 Indoor residual spraying…………………………………………………….. 7 3. Success and Cost……………………………………………………………………8 3. 1 Proactive and reactive approaches………………………………………….. 8 3. 2 Striking a medium between cost and success………………………………. 9 3. 3 Future success………………………………………………………………. 9 4. Conclusions……………………………………………………………………….. 9 5. Recommendaions…………………………………………………………………10 6. Appendix…………………………………………………………………………. 0 7. References………………………………………………………………………… 11 Exercise 3 Bringing it all together Now that you have an understanding of the content and structure of a report, it is time to put that knowledge to use. 1. Using one of the reports that we read last session, map out the topic sentences, then construct a table of contents. Tips for writing a report • Write in plain English • Select an appropriate title • Use your spell checker • Start writing • Use your Report Map • Sleep on it • You don’t need to start at the beginning • Be engaging • Use language the will be comprehensible by your intended audience

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