1. Always decide what your main aims and objectives should be in writing the report before starting. If you are in doubt, go back and ask the person who requested you to do the job.
2. Keep the reader in mind: his background; level of eduction; familiarity with the subject and knowledge of any technical terms (if you need to use them).
3. Decide what information the report is going to contain and where it can be found. In order to write a good report, you must know how to find the facts you need.
4. Choose what kind of layout you will use. What will be the approximate length? What style and tone will you use? Think of your reader and then try to write in a way that he will understand.
5. Most reports have the following sections, although those marked with * can be omitted in very basic reports:
Table of Contents*
Body of Report (main section)
6. Plan the general outline of your report. Do this by making brief notes about the subject of the report and its contents. Points 1-4 which we mentioned earlier will be useful here. Write your title! It helps to focus your mind on the real subject of your report.
7. Gather the information from the sources you have chosen (books, the Internet, talking to people/experts, doing surveys etc). Then select the material that you need to use. Sometimes you collect more material than you need and you have to leave out what is not really relevant if your report is to be concise and clear.
8. Once you have gathered all your information, put it into a logical sequence. This will give you an outline of the report, and also a rough guide to its length.
9. Immediately before you begin writing you need to interpret the information you have gathered so that you can draw conclusions and make recommendations. Make sure you look at your material logically and objectively.
10. Present the report neatly making sure that you have checked: the accuracy of your facts; grammar; spelling and punctuation. Read it through two or three times to ensure that what is clear to you will be clear to your reader. Also, make sure that it looks good visually by using numbered points and plenty of white space.
If you follow these tips, you’ll not only write better reports but – who knows – you might actually start enjoying the task!