Typical Report Writing Stages

Saturday, 11 April 2015 00:00
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Typical Report Writing Stages

Most reports follow very similar stages of development, here we look at the five typical stages.

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



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