Thursday, June 10, 2010

Five Important Points for Report Writing

1 - Use of technical jargon, slang, and/or colloquialisms:

Generally the writing you do in a report will be formal in nature and you will need to avoid using words which are not recognized as being Standard English. Standard English is the form of English most commonly used in print and which is taught in schools. It is also the form of English used for academic writing. Don't feel constrained by having to use formal English, but try and express yourself using words which most people would understand, and which are appropriate to the context. Watch out for regional words and phrases too. This also means having good spelling and grammar. While you won’t be directly marked down for poor spelling, not having any ‘howlers’ means your report will read much more nicely and give a better impression.

2 - Do not clutter:

In all graphical elements of your report it is essential that you avoid clutter, confusion, business and sloppiness. In the main body these issues tend to break the reader’s concentration and cause numerous problems with printing and page breaks. These things interfere with your main goal which is communication. Do this by being careful about where you place labels in graphs, titles in tables, notes appended to either and reference marks or ticks.

3 - Charts are more effective than a wordy description:

Statistical reports should not have great chunks of text, instead the majority of information should be summarised in a table or graph, with a small, pertinent comment underneath to show what the figure demonstrates.

4 - Keep it neat:

When using headings and sub-headings you have to ensure that the same pattern is followed throughout the whole report or proposal. To keep a neat, flowing structure, all graphs and other visual aids should be clearly numbered and labelled; this numbering should be consecutive throughout the text of the report. In general, you want your report to look as neat and uncluttered as possible. A very neat way to do this is the use of footnotes to direct the reader. Using the same font and size for headings and making sure graphs are the same size, also makes a report flow better.

5 - Visual aids make a report more attractive:

Visual aids are eye-catchers. They need to be used appropriately and moderately to be effective. They must always be titled, clearly labelled, and explained. Different types of visual aids emphasize different data relationships, so choosing the right type is very important. Whatever graph, chart, or illustration type is chosen, data must be presented truthfully and accurately. Distorted scales on graphs or misleading emphasis suggest weaknesses in an argument. This will only hurt your credibility. When submitting a proposal, recommendation, or evaluation report, photographs are a good visual aid to use. For example, if you are buying a house, it is easier to compare houses by using photos, the same goes for cars, machinery, etc. When it comes to report writing, one should be aware of using pictures, as it might distract people from the topic.

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