Report Writing- Tips and Format

What is a report?

A report is an account of some special event, written with a view to making people know
about it, e.g., A Report on the Inauguration of New Computer Lab of the school' A report may also be related to the results of some investigation conducted by the writer of the report. Whatever may be the subject of a report the important thing about a report is that it is a written document produced for some specific purpose and for the specific reader(s) in view.

Size of report

A report can be anything from a 3-4 line handwritten memo to thousands of closely typed
pages like the Report the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court on Title Entitlement of the disputed land of Ayodhya, running into more than 8000 typed pages. So the size of a report is immaterial. What counts is the quality of the report and not its size. Of course, the terms of reference of a report directly determine its size and comprehensiveness.

Types of Report

There are many kinds of reports that a person may be required to write on - from simple event
like a Blood Donation Camp in your institution to a Research Report or some investigatory report.

How to Write Report?

It would be wrong to think that all kinds of reports are written alike. In fact, every report has its
own demand to be fulfilled. However, the following guideline will help you to write a report effectively with necessary changes here and there as per the demand of the report.
The following are the THREE main stages of writing a report:
  • FIRST: Identifying and collecting the key facts of the matter concerned.
  • SECOND: Classifying them in the right order, and then.
  • THIRD: Presenting them briefly and directly in a simple language as effectively as possible.
While writing the report the terms of reference, if any, be kept in view.
  • The report must also indicate the date (and time, if essential) of the event, besides the name of
  • the reporter to make it authentic.
  • The report must be written objectively, discussing various aspects of the matter in the light of
  • the terms of reference, if provided. In case of a report on some simple matter, wherein there is no directive or compulsion from above involved, the report should be presented to its readers in such a way that the purpose of the report is fulfilled. In other words the prospective readers of the report should be able to know through the report the whole of the event covered like: What happened, why it happened, and how it happened. The report is, thus mainly the description-cum- narration of the details of the event happened or organized.
  • However, in case of a report of some investigatory nature, the report should be a direct commentary on what happened, why happened and what possible consequences it could lead to. The report concerned should comprehensively cover the subject of investigation, with a firm conclusion and recommendations of the investigator. The conclusion or the summary part of the report, along with the writer(s) recommendations will go a long way to decide the future course of action to be taken in the matter by the competent authority.
  • In case of the report, with the terms of reference, the writer(s) has/have to cover the findings in all the specified areas. So the terms of reference also dictate what kind of report is to be made available by the writer(s) of the report. It would be a good idea, if you go through one or two such reports to have a further insight into the writing of the report of this nature.

Format for Reporting

  • As said earlier, that there are different kinds of reports that require different kinds of report
  • writing. However, the following formats are commonly used:

Format for Reporting Ordinary Event 

1. Title of the Report
2. Reporter's name with the designation
3.Introduction- Objectives of the event organized (Why part of the event)
4. Details of the Event organized (What part of the event)
5. Conclusion- Summing up the Report.

Format for Reporting Investigations and Enquires 

The report may be divided into three sections:

1. OPENING SECTION
  • Title of the Report
  • Objectives/ Terms of reference
  • Contents of the Report
  • List of diagrams, tables and charts used in the Report
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
2. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS 
  • The details of the findings to be included in the body of the report
3. BODY OF THE REPORT
  • Introduction
  • Investigation conducted and its outcome
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations
4. APPENDICES
  • List of Evidences examined and cross-examined - men and documents
  • Reference Material
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Supplementary material examined (like film clippings and CCT shots)
  • Index
Note: Although most of the investigatory type of reports can be, by and large, covered under the above format, the investigator is free to add or make minor adjustments to the above format as per the nature of the investigation made.   

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