Report Writing: Structure and Content

Revised January 2011
No 6
Report Writing: Structure and Content
The key words for success in report writing are: organisation, clarity, precision and logic. Having a clear
report structure makes writing a report much easier.
What is a report?
A report is a structured
document that is
requested or
commissioned by a
person (e.g. your boss),
a company (e.g. the
Moreton Development
Company), or a body or
department (the Tennis
Association of WA). The
person or body
commissioning the
report will generally
require you to provide
information with recommendations to address a
problem or issue that has been identified.
Report Writing Structure
Reports are usually structured through the use of
numbered headings and sub-headings. Most
reports have some or all of the following
 Title/cover page
 Table of Contents
 Executive Summary
 Introduction
 Main Body of Report (Discussion)
 Recommendations
 Conclusion
 Reference List or Bibliography
 Appendix/ Appendices
Title/Cover Page
This usually contains: the title of the report, the
name of the person/company/body who
commissioned it, the name of the author/s and a
date (usually month and year in which the report
is completed).
Contents Page
The contents page shows the main sections of
the report, listing all headings and sub-headings
(using a decimal numbering system) and showing
page numbers.
Executive Summary
The executive summary provides an overview of
the entire report. It should be a clear, succinct
summary covering all matters of key importance
to the report. These include:
 who authorised the report
 objectives of the report
 scope (topic and limitations)
 information sources used
 findings
 key recommendations
 principal elements of conclusion.
Written last, the executive summary is placed at
the front of a report. It allows the reader to
quickly access the report’s main points,
recommendations or required actions.
The introduction to a report provides similar
information to that found in the Executive
Summary but does so in much greater detail. A
report introduction begins by documenting the
 who has authorised the report
 the topic being presented
 the purpose and objectives of the report
 the terms of reference or limitations
 information sources used
 general description of the report structure.
Revised January 2011
Main Body of Report (Discussion)
The main body of your report is used to build a
discussion of the topic and therefore may have a
number of sub-headings to enable you to write
about how you have collected and used
information to explore the topic and develop
your argument, position, opinion and
recommendations. It is essential that you
provide evidence in support of your discussion
by referencing all sources that you have
consulted to build your knowledge of the topic.
Many reports provide recommendations or an
‘action plan’ based on the findings. These may be
listed separately or as part of the ongoing
discussion, but should stand out, in any case. For
example: This report recommends that a
membership drive be undertaken within the next
six months.
A conclusion typically sums up the purpose of
the report, how it was developed, what it found,
and the major recommendations. The intention
of a conclusion is to remind the reader of the
overall report content and outcomes by
providing a summarised explanation. This may
result in some repetition of information, which
should be clear and succinct.
Reference List/Bibliography
All sources of information used in compiling your
report (written material, audio and video
documents) must be listed in your reference list
at the end of the report. People that you may
have interviewed to obtain information may be
listed separately or acknowledged under
acknowledgements at the front of your report
(but only if they wish to be identified!).
Many reports have one or more attached items
such as diagrams or other documents. These are
called appendix items. They provide ‘extra’
information on the topic, or evidence in support
of the topic that does not need to be integrated
into the body of the report.
A report may also require:
 a letter of transmittal – a covering letter
addressed to the person/company who
commissioned the report
 acknowledgements – thanking people who
may have helped you carry out your
Hot tip
It is important to remember that this report
writing structure is a basic outline and that each
School within CBS and companies may have a
variation on this report-writing style that must
be followed.
CBS Communication Skills Centre
Curtin Business School
Room 407.202

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