Step 1 - Clarify your purpose
- Why are you writing the report?
- Purpose - To inform? Explain? Evaluate? Advise? Recommend?
- What do you hope to achieve? - Clarification of procedures? Change in practice? Change in attitude? Action of some other sort?
- Who will read it?
- Who is your main reader?
- What does he already know about the subject?
- What are his expectations?
- What are his attitudes?
- What does he want to know?
- Is he likely to readily accept your ideas?
- How will the report be used?
Step 2 - Collect and sift material
- Write down ideas relevant to your purpose in note form
- Make an action plan – what to do and in what order
- Gather information: documents; visits; interviews; observation etc.
- Note information and sources as you find them
- Sift findings for relative importance and relevance
Step 3 - Organise the material
- Follow a structure (create a structure)
- Group into sections and subsections
- Plan logical order - from most important findings to least important, chronological, geographical,from current position detail progressively what led to it
- Keep sections watertight
- Not too much information in each section
Step 4 - Draft and edit/redraft
- Present facts accurately, clearly and concisely in main body
- Evaluate facts in conclusion
- Use impersonal, objective style
- Use formal language
- Use clear, concise language
- Choose words that convey a precise and objective meaning
- Use simple, straightforward sentence construction and words
- Use conjunctions and linking phrases to show connection between ideas
- Avoid bossy or condescending tone
- Put aside for a day or two then edit for content and style
Step 5 - Presentation of final draft
- Check style of layout
- Use clear headings and subheadings
- Rank headings clearly – use indentations
- Use clear numbering for sections, subsections and paragraphs
- Use appendices for detailed findings
- Use tables and graphs if appropriate
- Check grammar, punctuation and spelling