Writing reports is an important part of your work. Reports carry information to those who want it and need it, inform you what you have found out including little or no commentary and interpretation. A report
informs and analyses, presents facts. It makes you think in terms of the purpose or function. It gets to know your audience and their needs. Keep all these in mind when you are planning to write a report. How do we lay out such a report? We must maintain one inch margin all around when typing. If you put it in a binder, leave 5 cm of margins on the left hand side. Type single space but allow a double space between paragraphs, above and below. If it is typed double space, no double space is allowed between paragraphs, allow a triple space above headings and above and below lists, long quotations, graphics.
Use typographical elements to make words, phrases stand out. You may catch your reader's attention by using italics, underlining capital letters. Enclose graphics in boxes. If the sequence of a list is random or arbitrary,
use bullets (■) or dashes (-). If order is important, use Arabic numbers (1,2, ).Don't write long paragraphs (about 100 words), they should be put vertically on the page. The subject should be readable, clear in meaning.
Sentences must be short, simple ones, avoid all the unnecessary words. The language the report is written in, is the language accepted by a specific group. There are periodic reports which record the work over a specific period of time, giving the organization of the necessary information which you base decisions on. Any report should tell how a project is going, how much has been completed and how much is left.
The report has an introduction that explains the period of work covered by it, the work that had been planned, the authority to do the work, it assesses the progress to date. It has a body which provides a detailed account of what has been accomplished and how. The conclusions explain what work is planned for the future, gives an overall appraisal of the progress to date. The reports may have supplemental elements such as: lists of references / bibliographies; appendices.The preparatory elements: title page, letter of transmittal, preface, table of contents, lists of figures, tables, abstracts – identify the report, its author, audience, date, subject, coverage etc. Pages are numbered in small roman numbers and the title page shows the title of a report, name position and the date you submitted the report. The preface is identical to the letter of transmittal and has statement about purposes, scope, content, acknowledgement of assistance received. The table of contents presents the content of a report and the list of figures and tables present the location of graphics and tables. The abstracts are brief, condensed and state the most important ideas of the report(not more than 150-200 words).The introduction contains the general idea of the report topic in a few paragraphs, explaining the subject, purpose scope, plan and order of the presentation. The body is the longest part of the report, it has a detailed message, arranged in a logical order, uses heads, subheads, graphics, quotations, footnotes. The final part stresses the most important ideas, summarize the major points and state the conclusions and recommendations.
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