The way you structure your assignments and reports is important. Remember to pay close attention to any assessment instructions.
Reports are designed to be read quickly and easily. Often, only parts of a report are read in detail. Reports differ from essays as they have a more formal layout and normally use numbering (of pages and sections), headings and sub-headings.
Reports often include:
- Title page
The title page should be brief but explicit. Include your name, date, module, course and the person for whom the report is written.
- List of contents with section and page numbers. If there are charts, diagrams or tables included in your report, these should be listed separately under a title such as ‘List of Illustrations’, together with the page numbers on which they appear.
Acknowledgements should only be included if appropriate.
- Summary or abstract
The summary or abstract is very important and can be the only section of a report read in detail. It is normally written when the report is finished. This should be a short paragraph summarising the main contents of the report. It should include a short statement of the main task, the methods used, conclusions reached and any recommendations to be made. It should contain the essential ideas of the report, and should NOT serve as the introduction.
The introduction sets the scene and includes the aims and objectives of the report. It also defines the limits of the report, outlines the method of enquiry, gives a brief general background to the subject of the report and indicates the proposed development.
- Main body
The main body of the report illustrates how a project was undertaken. It normally includes a literature review, explanation of methodology used, discussion and analysis of findings. It should be ordered logically with each section clearly linked. It should include evidence and figures, tables, graphs and illustrations, where appropriate.
The conclusion should draw out the implications from the report and normally recommends a course of action. It should link back to the introduction.
- Reference list
This should be a list of all of the material directly cited in the text of your work. If you need a reminder of the difference between citing and referencing, have a look at what does a full reference look like?
Appendices contain supporting information, such as transcripts of interviews, results of surveys, a glossary and results from experiments.