How to write reports in English

How to write reports in English with Structure Explanation

Learn How to write reports in English. Learn about the different elements of the structure of an English report with an explanation of each element. This lesson will clear all of your confusion related to reporting writing, still, if you have any questions to ask, you can post them in the comments, we will try to answer them as soon as possible.

What is a Report in English?

A report is an information transferred from one person to another or from one group of people to another group.

Dictionary meaning

A report is an account (description) prepared for the benefit of others, especially one that provides information obtained through investigation- Collins.

To report is to give an account (description) of, especially a formal, official, or requested account-Chambers.

Definition of Report

A report (n.) is a statement about something heard, seen, done, or read in regard to some problem, happening, situation, suggestion, proposal, or idea.

A report can be based on information collected, examined (analyzed or investigated), and arranged with a view to conveying it to someone, with the writer’s conclusions or remarks or criticism or without it.

To report (v.) means to make a statement about, give an account of something that one has heard, seen, done, or read about in regard to some problem, happening, situation, suggestion, proposal, or idea.

To report (v.) means to make a statement about, give an account of something that one has heard, seen, done, or read about in regard to some problem, happening, situation, suggestion, proposal, or idea.

A newspaper, whether you read it in English or Urdu or any other language, is full of reports by news reporters.

what is a report

A report is a

  • Formal or official in presentation,
  • Result of a request made or assignment given to the writer of the report,
  • Is based on information got through observation and investigation for the benefit of others.
  • Normally, a report is an answer to a question or questions arising out of a situation.

Reports on printed forms, like confidential reports written by senior officers. On the performance of their juniors and market survey reports by salesmen and market surveyors, are easy to write for which little effort and arrangement are needed. Forms are readily filled in, some columns are kept blank, and the reports are ready. These are the regular or formal, official reports. This lesson will help you understand How to write reports in English.

In this lesson, we are mainly concerned with reports written in essay form preferably with titles and headings as presented in the various examples that follow. 

Reports are: (a) On forms (b) Not on forms (c) Technical (d) Non-technical. (Technical reports with technical terms and technical explanations are for technical experts.)

The style of the report

The language & style

The words used in a report should be proper (appropriate) and preferably simple. The sentences should be short and easily understandable. Each paragraph should have one kind of ideas related through well-arranged sentences. The report should look like a unit of thought. Simple ordinary words and a simple, direct style should be preferred in report writing.

The length of the report

The subject often determines the length. It should be as brief and relevant as possible, but should present the most material (essential or important) facts. It should not have long paragraphs and many details.

For examination purposes, a report of moderate length, say of about three to four pages of the examination answer book is recommended.

Further explanation of reports/memoranda/letters

  • In report writing, we collect information, analyze it then report it to others on given subjects.
  • Reports can be very short, of medium length, and very long. For example, a short report can be the visit of some person at some time to someplace, of a telephone call, of a meeting with someone, of the arrival of some guests or their departure, and so on.
  • A formal long report can be of a bus or train accident, the sale of smuggled goods in a particular market, the working of a particular government department, and so on.
  • Then we have routine and non-routine reports. For example, the lecture statement of the students of a class in college or school with comments is the routine report. It is given on regular intervals and can be prepared on printed forms or is written in regular and formal ways. The report of a happening like a terrorist act or an accident is non-routine as the reporter writes it in his style or way and arranges its parts more freely.
  • Reports generally have a formal structure and tone. They do not have the delicacies of address as we have in letters, pleasant leave-taking and exchange of greetings, etc. They are without conversational elements.
  • A particular report is meant for official or formal study or for wide circulation or for record purposes.
  • The use of pictures, maps, and graphs is helpful in understanding numerical details and facts. Computer graphics and laser printers have cheapened and facilitated the accompaniment of these to reports of different kinds, say, on dams, roads, markets, bus services, air traffic, advertisements and marketing, scientific developments and progress, examinations and education, and so on.

The terms of reference of a report

These are to be provided at the start. These may be its subject.

Headings

These facilitate and systematize the usefulness and the ready reference to the report.

Non-routine reports

(a) For our purpose, Most of the reports set we here deal with are non-routine as of no set of routine reporting, “no previous guidelines there are no and no routines feedback (advice or information).”

(b) In the preparation of a comprehensive report, the investigator notes, and collects evidence, takes records the sources. Relevance to the purpose of the investigation is necessary. Important facts and sources should be doubly checked.

The layout (arrangement)

The basic requirements of the layout of a report are as follows.

  1. The author’s name, organization and reference, the title of the report, the date of issue, and the name or reference of the person or organization being addressed.
  2. The introduction. It would be the outline or background history that led to the writing of the report. The terms of reference or the subject should be given.
  3. The main body. The structure and headings will depend on the subject matter.
  4. Conclusions and recommendations.

Reports concise have and well-structured to be of a high standard, in a plain style, concise and well structured.

External non-routine reports

  • Such reports are consultant reports, visit reports, investigations into frauds, etc. The form or shape of the external report depends on the subject it deals with. It should take into account the requirements of the readers. It should not violate any law or rule. It is necessary for the writer to study the facts of the situations described and discussed by him. He can conduct interviews with the affected parties and the public. The report should be comprehensive with the writer’s conclusions, and, if needed, suggestions.
  • Use simple and exact language, and avoid unnecessary technical and professional exact language, and avoid unnecessary addresses.
  • All the addresses should be formal and formally written. The tone of the writing should be obvious.

Internal non-routine reports

  • For example, about changes in an organization, or the effect of some external developments upon it. Subjects could include marketing, buying, consideration of the operating policies, redesign of products, new production methods, etc.

Letters and memoranda

Letters are for those in different organizations, or for those in the same organization on special occasions. A memorandum or memo is for someone in the same organization. It can be a short note written as a reminder. Letters emphasize courtesy and memoranda emphasize efficiency. Letters are informal or frank expressions of feelings, ideas, or even information. They are not divided into parts and are not exactly like reports. They do not usually have a formal or official tone.

terms of reference of a report

The structure of the Report

A report should usually be structured under these headings:

  1. Date
  2. To (the person or officer or institution addressed)
  3. From (name or title of the writer). If the writer is not mentioned and this part is left out, the report is still complete.
  4. The subject or title of the document
  5. The introduction
  6. The main text and conclusions
  7. Summary
  8. Suggestions or recommendations
  9. Appendices (if any)-(additional explanatory material).

Note. The comma, full stop, etc. in a report outside the main body should be according to the examples in the book. Just note the top and bottom of each report.

Explanation of the structure of the report

Date:

It is to be written on the right-hand or left-hand top corner of the first page of the report.

To:

The person or persons or institution which asked for the report or which needed the report or which needs to be addressed,

From:

The person or persons or institution, which is providing the report.

The subject:

The subject or title of document. It is the subject or matter on which the report is written. It serves as the title of the whole report.

The introduction:

It introduces the subject of the report and gives its background if needed. It tells what the report is about and sets the scene-may refer to some past reports or facts concerning the subject and may give the aims of the report. (The introduction only prepares the reader for the main text of the report, and the main text should be understandable even without it.)

The main text and conclusions:

The main text or the body of the report has its own structure. The material is arranged properly with conclusions or results at its end. The facts or descriptions or arguments should be presented and developed one by one and methodically, in different paragraphs. Only relevant (to-the-point) details or facts should be provided. The result or conclusions if any, should be very relevant. These should come out in the appendices (if needed) out of the main body, and nothing irrelevant should be included.

Note. If the report is likely to become long, only the necessary information should be put in the main text, and the supporting or secondary information in the appendices (if needed).

The summary:

The summary of the report can be placed at the end or even at the beginning, but it is better at the end. It is, in fact, the outline of the main points) of the report. It comes out of the main body alone, and so should not have any irrelevant point.

The summary is a very brief reproduction of the main points of the main body and the conclusions of the report. It helps the reader in understanding at one glance (quick look) what the whole report is.

Note. You may not include the summary if you like so, but its inclusion adds greatly to the effectiveness of the report.

Suggestions or recommendations:

If the report is such that the writer or reporter can or should make his suggestions. Or recommendations, he should do so in this part.

Here the writer can very briefly discuss the subject and give his advice and suggestions and can argue critically without taking sides (impartially).

If the report does not call for suggestions, this part can be left out.

Appendices:

(what is added at the end). If some additional facts or detailed information can make the report more complete, this can be put in the Appendices (plural of “appendix”).

The main report should be clear and brief and only that information is to be put in it which makes it easily readable and understandable.

Conclusion

After reading this section you must have an idea of How to write reports in English, I tried my best to keep it as simple as possible, still, if you have any confusion related to reports writing you can ask in comments.

More to Learn: Examples of Report Writing