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How to Write a Report

At Ultius, we know that writing a report is a universal and highly desired skill. Having the skills necessary to write a comprehensive, understandable report that concisely sums up one's findings is incredibly useful, and employers and educators alike love it when those under them are capable of writing an excellent report. Check out the writing guide below on how to write a report, and if you still need some help, we offer the following services:

 
 
 

The first step to writing a report is to ensure that you totally and completely understand what is required of you. Meticulously review the assignment and guidelines for the report and determine what exactly is being asked of you. Are you trying to prove something? Are you trying to convince your reader of something? Or are you simply reporting on a specific issue or topic? Some reports are solely informative and require you to complete your report or paper while remaining completely objective. Others may ask you to persuade readers to perceive your topic the way you want them to. Still, others might need you to research and analyze your topic.

Choose a Topic

The second thing you should do when writing a report is to carefully choose a topic. It often helps to inspire and motivate you when you choose to write your report about a topic that you enjoy or are interested in. Even if your report topic is assigned, it is important to try to find something about the topic that you can be passionate and excited about. When choosing a topic, you should always make sure that your topic is original and engaging to your audience. If you have to write a report on the same topic as someone else, try to find an interesting and innovative way to look at it. Something to consider is that while you are writing your report, your topic or thesis can adapt and change as you continue your research. You may find that your topic is too narrow and try to expand it beyond its original scope, or you might discover that your topic is too broad and you find it pertinent to focus your report on something more specific. 

Research the Topic

The next step to writing a report is to research your topic. Dive deep into the subject and examine it from all angles. Make sure that all the research sources you use are reputable and credible; if you do not use proper sources, then your report will lack credibility. It is important to double check all the facts you may find and use in your report. Using information provided by known experts in the field or reputable businesses can help ensure that the information you use is reliable. Other excellent and dependable sources include government sites and scholarly journals, which are often peer-reviewed and easily found with online search databases. There is an endless array of available sources. These days, while most research is done on the internet- which is certainly a gold mine of information- other kinds of sources can be valuable as well. Newspapers, magazines, books, encyclopedias, and other forms of print sources, in addition to digital sources like videos, pictures, interviews, sound clips, etc. If you happen to find a book that covers your topic especially well, it can be helpful to examine the sources that the author used in their research. Often times, they are useful and can supplement your research. There is an unlimited amount of information available out there on virtually any subject you could think of. When you use information in your report that comes directly from one of your sources, it is important to cite the resource and keep important information about the sources; the author name(s), publisher, publishing date, publishing city, title, etc. This information will allow you to properly cite the material you use to avoid plagiarism. 

Forming a Thesis and Argument 

When the time comes to finally being forming your essay, the first thing to do is come up with a thesis statement. This will be the main topic of your report, the statement that your entire report centers around. It is important that your thesis statement is strong and declarative. If your report is just being written to be informative, then your thesis statement contains no hint of your own opinion. However, if your report is supposed to be persuasive, your thesis must be arguable. The topic sentences of all of the body paragraphs must tie into and support your thesis to ensure continuity throughout your report. When preparing to write your report, it can be extremely helpful to first create an outline. Creating an outline allows you to see the way your report will end up looking and the way it will lay out. It is a short and precise web of the key points in your report. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three body paragraphs that support your thesis. Each topic sentence and idea should be cited and supported by evidence that proves what you are trying to say. After giving the evidence, it is important to explain how the evidence connects back to your thesis. This allows the reader to easily understand your message and how each body paragraph ties into the main, bigger picture. 

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When creating your outline, it is important to consider how you will format your report. If your report that simply recounts an event, it may be best to choose a chronological format for your paper and your outline. If your report is persuasive, you should begin with your strongest argument first. Your first chance to make an impact on your audience is with your introduction. Here, you can state your topic and introduce your thesis and main arguments. It is important to draw your reader in and make them feel interested and invested in your report. You may choose to provide some basic background information about your topic so that the audience knows what they can expect from your paper. Following your introduction, you should include your main body paragraphs- most reports or papers have three. Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that ties back to your original thesis. Next, you should include your evidence found during your research that supports the claim made by your topic sentence. This will increase the credibility of your claims and help your readers to agree with what you are writing. After your evidence, it is important to include a warrant that ties your evidence back to your claim. This will help your readers to more clearly understand why your evidence supports your claim and, ultimately, your thesis. Taking these steps for each body paragraph will help ensure that your claims are solid and clear, making your audience completely understand your point and be persuaded to agree with you. After finishing all of your body paragraphs, you can begin writing your conclusion. Your conclusion should restate your thesis in addition to the main points of your body paragraphs. It should neatly wrap up your entire paper and finalize your argument.

Citing Sources

When you are finished with your report, it is important to remember to properly cite all of your sources. Reports are typically written in MLA, APA, Chicago, or some other writing format. When it comes to the writing style or format, the format applies to quoting your sources, how you cite the information your find during your research and use in your report, and your bibliography at the end with all of the important information regarding all of the sources that you used. If you do not properly cute all of the information that you use in your report but found elsewhere, that will qualify as plagiarism for which you can get into a lot of trouble.

Review and Polish

When you are finished with your final report, the next important step to take is to carefully read through and edit your paper. Something imperative to consider is whether or not your report comes across clearly to your readers. Do your paragraph topic sentences tie into and support your main thesis? Does each paragraph contain enough evidence to make the claim valid and reliable? Did you include a strong warrant to enable to audience to see how clearly the evidence supports the claim? You must look at your paper through fresh eyes, as if you are reading it for the very first time in order to get an accurate picture of your report and how it comes across to readers. Another exercise that may be helpful is to have someone else read and review your paper. Having someone read your report who did not know exactly what you were thinking can help make sure that your paper is conveying the message that you wanted to your audience. They can also help make sure that your wording does not sound awkward or sloppy and tighten up any loose ends that you may have missed when you originally wrote the paper. When editing your paper, yet another helpful hint is to read your report out loud. This helps to make sure that your working is not awkward, there are no run-on sentences, and that everything makes sense. Sometimes, a helpful way to edit your paper is to set it down for a few days and return to your paper later. Having time to clear your head before you proof read your paper can help you more easily spot errors that you make have not noticed before. You may even find some parts that do not make sense or convey the proper message when you return to the report with fresh eyes. 

Conclusion

While writing a report can be a tall order and a tough job, when you break it down easily, it becomes much more manageable. Using an outline, beginning with thesis and introduction, using body paragraphs with evidence and warrants that connect back to your main point, and a conclusion that neatly ties together your report and restates your main arguments helps to make a seemingly overwhelming task seem much more easily accomplished. These simple, yet effective tips and hints will help assure that your report will be well written and accurately gets your point across to your audience.

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