Writing a report can be a tedious, seemingly never ending process. The daunting task of gathering information can be the hardest and most time consuming part of constructing a report. With some thorough research and by making sure you understand the expectations of the assignment, you can create a great final product without too much stress and heartache.
Gathering Your Research
Once you’ve established what your report will focus on, write down everything that you know about the topic. This will give you a place to start. Even if you don’t know much about the topic, having a starting point for your research alleviates the pressure of not knowing where to start in the writing process.
- As you write down what you know about the topic, look for gaps in your knowledge.
- Write out questions you’ll need to answer in order to complete the report.
Gather research from various sources.
After you’ve picked your own brain about what you already know about your report topic, it’s time to turn to books, articles, and other good sources of information so you can find out more.
Verify what you know and expand those ideas by finding more information that supports your ideas. Utilizing different sources can help to build your bibliography of references.
Organize your research.
All of your sources will contain more information than what you need to complete your report. It’s up to you to read the sources and figure out which facts you’ll need to include. You may want to print out the sources material so you would be able to write on it and highlight the parts that will be useful for your report.
Drafting the report
Make an outline.
If you’re in a hurry, you might not want to make an outline. However, this simple step will save you time in the end. An outline lets you map out your entire essay, start to finish. After that, all you have to do is fill in the gaps.
Figure out the topic sentence, or thesis, of your report. This is the foundation of your entire report.
Lay out the body of the report.
For a report on a park for example, you might have a paragraph discussing historical information, one on ways the park has evolved, and one on the role the park serves in modern times.
Summarize your conclusion.
Reiterate the point you want to make in your report one more time.
Write the introduction.
The introduction should contain your topic sentence as well as a summary of the arguments you’ll be presenting in order to back up your claim. Aim for an introduction that’s at least four sentences long. Since this is the beginning of the report, it’s your chance to engage readers (or impress your teacher) and give them a taste of what is to come.
Lay out the body of your report.
Take a look at your outline and begin expanding on the points you made. This is your chance to use the research you gathered and the ideas you brainstormed early in the process.
Each paragraph in the body of your report should be at least four or five sentences long. More importantly, it should contain substantial information backed with good examples and facts that you have researched.
Never copy source material word for word.
You should always paraphrase, or summarize, the information in your own words.
Many teachers require that a report have at least three body paragraphs in addition to the introduction and conclusion. Each paragraph should build on the last, leading to the conclusion.
If you’re having trouble setting up your paragraphs, consider this format: make a statement, back it up with two examples, and make another statement to reinforce your point.
Write the conclusion.
Even though you’ll be reiterating the information you’ve already discussed, it’s important to present it in a fresh way in the conclusion. Drive your point home by bringing in a new example so that readers will see it in a new light.
Polishing your report
Add the bibliography.
Your teacher may want to assess your ability to pull in good sources and format them correctly. It’s important to write your bibliography according to the instructions outlined by your teacher. Don’t neglect this important step, since many teachers deduct points when students forget to include their source material.
Format your report according to instructions.
If your teacher told you a certain font size and type to use, be sure to use it. Most reports are typed in Times New Roman, 12 pt font, and double spaced. The title of the report should be centered at the top of the page. Don’t forget to include your name.
Don’t attempt to turn in a report formatted in extra large font to make it look longer. Teachers can see right through this tactic.
If your teacher requested a handwritten report, be sure to write neatly and legibly.
Proofread your work.
No matter how well-written your report is, it won’t seem polished unless you make sure it is free of errors. Check for spelling errors, grammatical errors, and formatting errors. You may want to ask a family member or friend to proofread your report, too, since it can be hard to catch your own mistakes.