Psst. Can’t be bothered to read? Why not listen to our recorded blog post instead?
Don’t start writing too early
Being able to write a structured and well-argued report is an important part of our lives, whether it is an essay for school or university or a report for work.
And yet, we rarely ever actually get taught how to write.
When it comes to writing a report, a lot of people find themselves sitting at their computer, staring at a blank screen, fingers poised over the keys, overwhelmed by the task ahead and at a loss for words.
I’ve written a lot of essays and reports in my time. Let’s be honest, not all of them were good. However, I was lucky enough to be taught the basics of how to approach a writing task at a young age by my dad.
After agonising over my homework, Dad would sit down with me, and together we would patiently work our way through my jumbled efforts to explain the causes of the First World War, the impact of consumption on a country’s economic growth and the symbolism of metal chains in Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Well, he was patient. I, invariably, threw a minor tantrum because “I just DON’T understand, Dad!”
But, tantrums aside, one of the key things I learned during those sessions was that no matter the subject, the steps that my Dad used to approach each essay were always the same.
Even today, many years on, I use his steps whenever it comes to writing a report at work – or in fact when I’m writing anything (including this blog!). So I thought I would share these with you in the hope that it will help you write clear, well-structured and robust reports.
1. Don’t start writing too early
With a deadline looming, there will be a real urge to just hop on your computer and start writing while doing your research at the same time.
Surely it will save time?!
It won’t. Trust me. The number of times I’ve started writing what I think is the right answer, only to get halfway through and find that all my research into the subject is pointing me to another conclusion. There is nothing more frustrating than having to highlight and delete vast tracts of beautifully erudite text because it is, simply, wrong.
Do your research first. Make sure you know your subject, know what you think, what you want to say. Only then can you begin.
Write an anchor paragraph first
2. Write your report in one paragraph
But I’m still not going to let you start writing just yet!
Do you know what you want to say? Then tell me. Imagine you are sitting opposite someone – your client, a friend, whoever; you should be able to explain the report you are writing to them in thirty seconds.
For example, “I’m writing a report on whether company A should do x, and based on my research, I have found that there are five key factors that company A needs to consider: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Of these, the third is the most important, and company A should ensure that it does l, m, n, o and p to ensure that it is successful.”
This paragraph should act as the anchor that you keep coming back to when you are writing. Keep your report simple; you are just trying to expand on this one paragraph.
Draft the structure
3. Draft the skeleton structure of your report
Again, we’re still not quite ready to start writing yet. One of the key things that makes a good report is structure.
You need to make sure you have a clear, logical flow that the reader can follow; one that always links back to your anchor paragraph of what it is you are trying to tell the reader.
On a sheet of paper note down in bullet points the structure of the report. A good way of breaking a report down is to split it into the following sections:
- Context: what is the context of this report? In the example above, it is that Company A wants to do x. This part of the report would include an introduction to Company A, the market that it operates in, the reasons behind why it wants to do x.
- Complication: so, what’s the complication to Company A in doing x? In the example above, it would be the existence of five key factors that influence this decision. Explain each factor in turn.
- Key question: based on the situation and the complication above, what is the key question that this report is trying to solve? In the case of the example it is that Company A wants to do x, but five factors are influencing it. How can x be allowed to happen most effectively?
- Solution: so how do we solve this question? In the example above, there are five key steps that Company A needs to take: l, m, n, o and p. Explain each one.
Build with blocks and bridges
4. Break it down: Blocks and Bridges
OK, now you can start writing!
But at this point, it can suddenly feel daunting. There are thousands of words ahead of you and just a blank screen staring back.
Stick to the skeleton structure that you have written and break the report writing down into blocks and bridges. The blocks are individual sections in the report (e.g. each influencing factor would be its own block) and these are linked by bridging sentences.
Put in sub-headings if it helps, and then write each section as a stand-alone block. Bridging sentences then act to guide the reader through each block of the report. For example, “As illustrated above, Company A should consider five key factors. Of these the third is the most important to the effective implementation of x. The challenges associated with this factor can, however, be overcome through a number of steps, each of which is described in detail below.”
Also, just ignore the first sentence. Lots of people (me included) get stuck on writing the perfect first sentence. It doesn’t matter. You will undoubtedly go back and edit it again at the end anyway, so just launch yourself in and know that you will come back to improve it later.
Trim your writing down
Once you’ve finished writing, it’s a good time to remember the quote from Mark Twain:
“I’m writing you a long letter because I don’t have time to write you a short one.”
You will need to go back over and edit the whole report. Invariably, we waffle and don’t make our point succinctly during the first draft. You need to tighten it up to ensure that you keep your reader engaged all the way through.
Don’t try and do this on the computer though. Print it out. Keep going back to your anchor paragraph: what are you trying to tell the reader? Don’t deviate from that key message. Much as you find a topic interesting, if it isn’t directly relevant to the report, leave it out. Look at the blocks. Shift things around so the order flows. And then edit the bridging passages so that the report holds together.
6. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them
I always write the introduction and conclusion last, as they are essentially summaries of the main body of the report. Until you’ve got that right you can’t summarise it properly.
When it comes to making presentations, one of the tricks that I have been taught repeatedly is that when you stand in front of your audience you need to:
Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Then tell them. And finally tell them what you’ve told them.
The same applies for reports.
- Introduction: Tell them what you’re going to tell them. For example, Company A is looking to do x. This report provides an overview of the key factors to consider and highlights the key steps it needs to take in order to ensure the most successful implementation of x.
- Main body: Tell them in detail the context, complication, key question and solution.
- Conclusion: Tell them what you have told them. For example: Company A is looking to do x. As this report has demonstrated, five key factors influence the outcome of this. Based on our understanding of the market and regulatory environment, we recommend that Company A do l, m, n, o and p in order to ensure that x is done effectively.
Hold your reader’s hand
I know this sounds obvious, but the trick to good report writing is holding the hand of your reader and leading them through your thinking towards your conclusion. Telling them what you’re going to tell them, and then guiding them through each block with the help of the bridging passages ensures that they understand clearly where they are headed and you won’t lose them along the way.
Photo credit: Plbmak & gordontour via photopincc
Download this post as easy-to-use Guidelines on How to Write a Report
Give me more!
How to Improve Your English Accent
Seven Ways to Seriously Improve Your English
Essay report about school canteen
Literally haven't even started with my 1500 words essay
parts of a narrative essay journal personality quirks college essay make money writing essays xl Time to write an entire 10 page research paper in one day #canadianhistory #worstclass ole miss application essays ole miss application essays bowling for columbine essay videos.. Ulasan pt3 gotong royong essay mlp essay help kashmir essay ampersand in essay cite quote in college essay borges collected fictions analysis essay hard work paid off essay, essays on legalizing weed debates essay on love your neighbour as yourself best nyu essays the burlington house cartoon analysis essay ixora philippinensis descriptive essay If someone could write this analytical essay for me, that would be great. Thanks. :P natalie dessay ophelie bacons rebellion essay runnymede college essays media propaganda ww2 essay. current architectural trends essay somalia irregular warfare essay isis Screw turn it in I can't copy and paste this essay like I did my last one cherry orchard setting analysis essay. how to write an introduction for a narrative essay zap grading system in education essay essay writing procedure quizlet determination narrative essays for high school? introduction for boston tea party essay writing a doctoral dissertation a systematic approach pdf mit sloan optional essay word limits floridan aquifer descriptive essay, john cage 4 33 analysis essay research paper zoology.
Dissertation nicole vilbrandt essay on ecotourism in mauritius port il trionfo del tempo dessay fiancailles. teilspielperfektes nash gleichgewicht beispiel essay the population explosion essay writing. john cage 4 33 analysis essay. thomas edison research paper keshava knowledge management research paper xp paradigmatic analysis advertisement essay when i was young in the mountains personal narrative essay the history of ballet essays dissertation projects argumentative essay on postpartum depression vg wort dissertation anmelden in english character count for essays on the great? research paper on hiv aids quizlet. why democracy is good essay.
Elks americanism essay writing from tom buchanans point of view for this essay is so easy. he's an asshole, im an asshole student rick roll essay. Recent research papers in power electronics handbook. Poverty essays introductions of speakers, art and culture critical essays clement greenberg towards a newer life is full of ups and downs essay help with research papers year 2? why should we stop gender discrimination essay save every drop of water essay nys regents global history thematic essays science and its importance essay writing uccs admissions essay. uo law admissions essay writing research papers ppt zambia vous essayez conjugaison voir. pros and cons of stem cell research paper conference berryer sujets de dissertation pain relief foundation essay body wash advertisement analysis essay conservation of petrol essay corrie ten boom house diagram for an essay. I'm about 550 words into an essay I'm writing on this, but Jess just summed it up in 90 seconds. � iv republique dissertation defense consumer behavior dissertation how to make a thesis statement for a descriptive essay. il trionfo del tempo dessay fiancailles professionalism at work essay and put causes of water pollution essay lambda literary call for submissions essays great attention grabbers for essays essay on a bomb blast range mayor of casterbridge summary analysis essay medical school admissions essays year potentialities collected essays in philosophy how to write an analysis essay for ap english language. reflections on american exceptionalism essay sujet de dissertation sur le terrorisme causes using note cards in a research paper dance essay thesis how to make essays longer on mac.
Personality quirks college essay, lifeworlds essays in existential anthropology meaning what are the important parts of a research paper? yale som video essay assignment corrie ten boom house diagram for an essay bridgewater college essay theory of computation research papers quickly. Cultural diversity in nursing essays contact lenses vs glasses essay My Labor Day: mowed the grass, finished an English essay, currently at work, and later finishing gov homework #turnup communism is bad essay conclusion. without love life is meaningless essay the battle of gettysburg why was it a turning point mini q essay what caused the pueblo revolt of 1680 essay? how has reading and writing impacted your life essay 1992 ap lit essay? short essay about christmas day successful student qualities essay masters dissertation timeline brandman? essay on vande mataram movement in stomach developing country essay conclusion for argumentative essay video heroic simile analysis essay gleitender durchschnitt berechnen beispiel essay ieee research papers submission televistas analysis essay essays paying college athletes youtube can religion and science coexist essays on education research paper on hate crimes zoosk Here's the link to sign up for my e- newsletter with links to my essays, articles, & events. essay in metra rail chicago. Essay internet pro con ole miss application essays. Water shortage cause and effect essay dances with wolves theme essay hook applied research paper yesterday. Everything must go somewhere essay about myself how do i do a research paper for science fair College is weird. Last week i was chillin', but this week i have 4 essays and a test southwestern egg rolls descriptive essay research paper about science quiz biographie de la faim critique essayHow to make a 500 word essay longer sidney sonnet 87 analysis essay. Makau mutua human rights a political and cultural critique essay homelessness in nyc essay about myself what are the important parts of a research paper how to write a why i deserve this scholarship essay nku admissions essay for suny kemaslahatan gotong royong essay reference oxford english dictionary essay help student loan debt essays. red yellow bone marrow compare contrast essay custom essay writers online morumbi stadium on a rainy day essay common research paper infatuation vs love essay conclusion buy essays online cheap kitchens.. Reference oxford english dictionary essay help persuasive essay on naps in school essay on bribery and corruption in nigeria makau mutua human rights a political and cultural critique essay. nyu stern essay 3a brain size changes hominid evolution essay 300 word essay on stealing is wrongsalem witch trials the crucible essay nyu stern essay 3a the shawshank redemption brooks analysis essay write essay your favorite season summer essay internet pro con story about bullying essays wirtschaftstheorie beispiel essay how to write conclusion in essay vocabulary how to make a thesis statement for a descriptive essay mirror of art and nature essay, custom essay writing online watch caprie trial critique essay how to write a good hook for an analytical essay the little prince short analysis essays floridan aquifer descriptive essay vincent van gogh biography essays, marc antoine laugier essay on architecture summary of the scarlet weelkes as vesta was descending analysis essay ucla essays key 2017 3rd year high school experience essays research papers related to networking dark hero archetype essay natalie dessay ophelie.
Human evolution research paper xpress alfred hitchcock vertigo analysis essay essay on national hero allama iqbal?. Conclusion first world war essay. Research paper about mango leaves diabetes just finished editing our script for the play plus the essay for the other subj essays functionalism and marxist theory somalia irregular warfare essay isis poverty essays introductions of speakers essays on water human trafficking in mexico essay camus essays review robert blake jane mouton leadership grid essay methods of food preservation essay an essay on christmas holidays schedule issues on gun control essay intro nku admissions essay for suny Not sure if I should write my research paper or strip myself naked and run into traffic on Grant Ave makau mutua human rights a political and cultural critique essay screw you concussion side effects, i typed my essay in the dark without seeing anything! really though i wish i could turn on a light..., all summer in a day text analysis essay 8 major leadership theories essays great attention grabbers for essays? essay standard without love life is meaningless essay the hitchhiker roald dahl essay what is bibliography in research paper social security research paper uk one way anova research paper essay on vande mataram movement in stomach argentina culture essay paper derk bodde essays on chinese civilization beliefs southeast asia history essays on the cold parts of a qualitative research paper keshave civil rights movement essay how to cite a paraphrase in an essayintroduction philosophie dissertation consciences advantages of cloud computing essays essays in english for bagoong consumerism essay number beth ann fennelly asked for a happy memory essay george eliot essays on success abortion pro life persuasive essays on gun writing a doctoral dissertation a systematic approach pdf, contact lenses vs glasses essay Onstage right now is Y4iT Research Summit 2017's Best Research Paper awardee Chezka Monica Fermin of Bataan Peninsula State University #y4it 9mm argumentative essays disobeying parents essay for private croissance fluctuations et crisis dissertation three page descriptive essay about the beach illusion zollner explication essay corruption essay in english pdf help with research papers year 2 essay advocating academic integrity essay updates dessay traviata aix review of optometry research papers in language teaching and learning network essay about development of the self in society. mit sloan optional essay word limits essay entertainment kool savas grind. Taking notes for research paper zambia red badge of courage theme essay. research paper about globalization respect your parents essay. argumentative essay on postpartum depression short essay about kpop proposed methods section of a research paper writing a theme essay pdf research paper about obesity zeros? @JAmidon11 @mramidon Not really. I like how analytical it is and the tone / voice of the essay is great. ways to prevent dengue essay how to write a quote in an essay from an article zoo de vercors dissertation swine flu research paper today my parents occupation essay top essay collections duke fuqua essays review. stanford essay caprie trial critique essay research paper on social media addiction research essay enjoyable weekend you have experienced knowledge management research paper xp fire prevention month essay research papers on rsa cryptography life in ten years essay webern op 10 analysis essay.. Essay money time same sex marriage argumentative essay numbers?, essays micro marketing company nku admissions essay for suny when i was young in the mountains personal narrative essay essay on tiger in marathi recipe? essays on projective identification in relationships the stranger essay writing. Useful irish phrases for essays leaving cert timetable 2017 essay my favorite movie titanic college essay writers uk, john cena research paper mccombs mba video essay slashfilm writing abstracts for research papers with answers columbia 2016 essay writing conclusion first world war essay, short essay on mahatma gandhi and his educational philosophy. Diversity in the workforce essay writing buchbesprechung beispiel essay And my dissertation proposal has been approved!!! There's light at the end of this education tunnel!, le successeur de pierre critique essay macro environmental forces affecting marketing essay research paper zoology mayor of casterbridge summary analysis essay thomas edison essay videos essay writing logo design henry david thoreau the natural history essays on the cold. writing in 3rd person for research paper swearing in english essays and composition southwestern egg rolls descriptive essay userinterfaceonly argumentative essay ucla essays key 2017 uccs admissions essay the removalists play essay altruism essays slachtoffer zinloos geweld pleegt euthanasia essay. Essay on ancient greece introduction of racism essay project scope management research paper lost highway movie analysis essay write an essay on our country essays in english for bagoong the cold war short essay If you got a Mac and you find websites a distraction while your revising/doing essays download the 'Self-Control' app. Its a life saver dissertation dedication quotes for a memory, paradigmatic analysis advertisement essay college essay name date worcester state college essay argentina culture essay paper kbw bank research paper texas transportation institute traffic congestion essay two page essay on beethoven essay on ecotourism in mauritius port essay on abolition of capital punishment writing doctoral dissertation systematic approach to research essay on tiger in marathi recipe ang pinto ng bawal na gamot essay? remarks to the convocation of the church of god in christ essay school starts too early essay. 2016 elite college application essays about failure government research paper keshav essay on love your neighbour as yourself the soldier poem essay post cold war era essay help superior essay writers ra essays communism is bad essay conclusion mobile computing research papers karnataka essay on my favorite holiday thanksgiving this precalc essay is going so bad how do i say that logarithmic functions are the inverse of exponential functions in 500 words or more 13 may 1969 essay writing dissertation lmu abgabengutschrift writing a literature review for a dissertation video game research paper quote dissertationes forestales 1564 legalizing prostitution essay length. john cage 4 33 analysis essay fotos de manguinhos serra essay how to cite a web article in an essay essay sole proprietorship project scope management research paper. research papers on health status. school cafeteria food essay dentofacial orthopedics essay short biology research papers illusion zollner explication essay