Report Writing: Structureand Content
The key words for success in report writing are: organisation, clarity, precision and logic. Once you know the basic structure, writing a report will be easy.
Finding your material
First, research your topic for relevant information for your report. Next, follow the report structure headings and add your own specific headings,
with numbers, to organise that information clearly
Report Writing Structure
The structure for report writing is the acronym: SID CRAB and stands for: for:
• (Executive) Summary
• Appendix/ Appendices
• Bibliography or Reference List.
Written last, but placed first on the report, the Executive Summary must be a complete summary of the whole report. It is a ‘stand alone’ text so that busy people can quickly access the report’s main points and recommendations. It also allows managers to take the Executive Summary only, to meetings outside the office. Therefore, a good summary must include:
• an introduction to the report, including its aim or purpose
• the facts or main points contained in the report (no examples)
• the findings of the report
• the recommendations of the report, that is, what action is needed.
A report’s introduction must answer certain questions for the reader: who authorised the report and why; the aim or purpose of the report; the scope, that is, the boundaries set for discussion, and the problem or proposition that it will examine. For example, ‘This report discusses … .’ An introduction often gives some background information on the topic.
Your discussion should contain specific headings, and numbers. You must:
• organise your researched information clearly and logically
• create headings for your discussion based on the information you have gathered.
Use Harvard in-text referencing to acknowledge your research and to separate it from your own
‘voice’ or critical analysis, as you would in an essay.
Note: Do not use ‘discussion’ as a heading as it is not specific enough.
The conclusion contains the findings of a report. For example: ‘This report found that.. . .’
The conclusion often looks at implications of the findings on certain areas.
The report makes recommendations. For example: This report recommends that: … (List what needs to be done, using bullet points, to ‘fix’ or improve the problem).
The recommendations provide an ‘action plan’ based on the findings.
The report also looks at reasons for making the recommendations and their impact on the situation.
The appendix holds ‘extra’ information on the topic, that is, relevant information, such as statistics, not required in the main report but of possible interest to readers.
Use the Harvard Referencing style to list references, as you would in an essay.
Presenting Facts clearly and simply
Because reports are focussed on facts, the information must be logically presented, well• organised, and specific in its language use. To aid clarity, reports often use a numbering system with appropriate headings to organise information and to help readers find information quickly.
For example: 2.0, 2.1, 2.2; 3.0, 3.1, 3.2.
There’s more: Report-writing extras!
• Letter of transmittal – a covering letter addressed to the person/company who commissioned the report
• Foreword or Preface – similar to an introduction, but less formal.
• Contents Page with page numbers is essential, since it acts as an index
• Acknowledgements- thanking people who may have helped.
**It is important to remember that this report writing structure is a basic outline and that each School within CBS and corporations may have a variation on this report-writing style that must be followed.