According to the Handbook of Technical Writing, "a report is an organized presentation of factual information that answers a request by supplying the results of an investigation, a trip, a test, a research project, and the like" (515). Implicit in this definition are a few key and consistent attributes about all reports, be they formal or informal.
- Reports follow conventional structural or organizational patterns (sometimes called superstructures)
- Reports are grounded in factual, supportable details
- Reports address specific readers' needs because they will want to use the information your report provides.
Reports fall into two broad categories: formal and informal. Formal reports generally follow a prescribed format and include some or all of the elements listed below:
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of abbreviations and symbols
Text (including headings)
Informal reports usually run from a few paragraphs to a few pages and include only the essential elements of a report: introduction, body, conclusions, and recommendations. Because of their brevity, informal reports are customarily written as a letter or as a memorandum.
Listed below are some resources that should help you write reports:
- Formatting Reports
- Handbook (password protected)
- Writing Technical Reports by Dr. L. Ray Johnson