Think about your reader

Although your main audience will probably be your module tutor, you might also have an imagined reader, such as a company boss. What do they need to know? Selecting relevant material is one of the key skills you’re being tested on when writing a report.

Cut the waffle

Unlike an essay, a report should be direct and concise. Concentrate on facts and figures, and avoid giving unnecessary information. The ideal report style is clear and easy to follow. But don’t forget to explain the information you’re including, providing references to support your points.

Produce what you've been asked for

It’s even more important than usual to follow your assignment brief carefully. With an essay, you often have some leeway to be imaginative, coming up with your own argument and structure. However a report usually has a set structure, so be sure to produce exactly what your tutor requires. See what a basic report includes on our report writing pages.

Layout is key

Reports should be easy to navigate. A company boss may not read a report from start to finish – they may only want to see certain sections. So, use subheadings, numbering, figures and tables to present your work tidily. Try following our advice on formatting in Word

Remain formal and professional

Like any assignment, your report should follow standard English conventions, using the right terminology for your subject and avoiding slang. 

Don't forget critical thinking!

While it’s important to be clear and concise, you also need to justify your points. Analysing and evaluating your evidence will help you achieve high marks. This is particularly relevant if you’re asked to make recommendations at the end of your report – you’ll need to explain the reasons behind your choices. Read more about critical thinking strategies on our Skills for Learning website.

Think of this as an opportunity

Whether report writing comes easily to you or not, it’s a life skill. Your assignment is a chance to practice something you may well need to do in the workplace.

Attend a workshop

For more in-depth advice, come along to a Skills for Learning report writing workshop, book via MyHub.

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