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Report Writing: Elements of a report

Elements of a report

There are many different types of report, so before you start to work, you should check the requirements for the course and the particular assessment task with your tutor.  Technical, business, research and scientific reports often have specific differences. 

This guide provides a basic outline to report writing.

Generally, a report has the following elements:

1. Title page - includes the subject of the report, who the report is for, the author (or authors if it is a group report), and the date of submission.

2. Abstract - this is usually a single paragraph of 100-200 words and is a summary that gives the reader an understanding of the main points in the report. It should be written on a separate page with the centred heading 'Abstract', and includes the following:

  • why the report has been written (ie what question or problem is it addressing?)
  • how the study was undertaken
  • what the main findings were
  • what is the significance of the findings

3. Table of contents - indicates how the information in the report has been organised and what topics are covered. It should be set out on a separate page, and include a list of figures and a list of tables used in the report.

4. Introduction - The introduction has three main components:

  • The Background - describes events leading up to the existing situation or problem, what projects have been done previously, and why the study or project is necessary
  • The Purpose - defines what the project or study aims to achieve
  • The Scope - outlines the limitations of the project, in terms of time, scale, cost etc

5. Body - basically this answers the questions - Who? Why? Where? When? What? How? - but it will vary depending on the kind of report. The information needs to be presented in a systematic way. Sub headings, bullet points, or precise, formal sentences may be used - check the specific requirements for your assessment task.

6. Conclusion - a brief summary of the main points in descending order of importance.

7. Recommendations - suggest actions that follow naturally from the conclusions made above.

8. References - the list of references is an accurate listing, on a separate page,  correct  APA Referencing style, of all the sources referred to in the report.

9. Appendix/Appendices - contains important data, explanations and illustrations not included in the main text of the report.



The information in this guide has been adapted (with permission) from the University of Newcastle Library guide to report writing

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