How to Write a Report Like a Pro

How to Write a Report

writing report assignments

A report is an academic paper that is used to present findings after a research has been completed. It usually contains the results of the research, their analysis and conclusions on the topic.

Usually, a report contains the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Methodology

Depending on the area of study, as well as your professor’s requirements, the format and the content of the report might change. To learn how to write a report , keep reading our guide!

What is a report ?

A report is a presentation of your findings. They are often used by scholars to explain the results of an inquiry, investigation, experiment, or study. One may think that a report sounds very similar to a research paper, yet there are some key differences. 

Research papers tend to be more detailed, and hence, lengthier than report papers. A research paper’s main goal is to add new knowledge to a particular area of study, while a report aims to provide relevant information on a topic, regardless if it’s been discussed before.

What’s a typical report format ?

A report usually consists of the same chapters as any other serious academic paper. It has your basic Introduction, Methodology, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion chapters. However, the exact structure may differ depending on your professor’s instructions. 

Note that a report does not include a review of literature. That is because a report focuses on one experiment, study or investigation, rather than looking at multiple sources. Although in some cases, a review of several sources might be required.

When it comes to formatting, you have to consult with your tutor. They may require you to use a certain formatting style depending on their preference or the discipline you are studying.

What are the steps to report writing?

When it comes to writing, the steps are pretty much the same as with other similar academic papers. You should focus on the preparation to ensure the final paper is a success. It also helps to have the steps mapped out before you start writing. This way, you can plan your time better.

  • Review the task
  • Choose the topic
  • Conduct preliminary research
  • Write an outline
  • Write the intro
  • Outline your methods
  • Describe the results
  • Discuss your findings
  • Conclude the paper

These are the most basic steps to create a report, yet they are necessary to make sure your paper flows correctly.

How hard is it to write?

Writing a report is not hard as long as you follow the steps described above. Here’s a detailed instruction:

  • Read through the assignment thoroughly to ensure you understand it. It’s best to consult with your professor if anything is unclear.
  • If your professor gives you the freedom to choose a topic, make sure to pick the one you’ll enjoy writing. If they assign a topic for you, ask if you can tweak and adjust it to fit you better.
  • Gather the sources you may need for writing your paper. Collect them in a separate folder on your computer to ensure easy access.
  • Outline and plan all the chapters ahead of time and confirm with your professor. This will ensure you don’t have to scrap the entire paper mid-writing if one chapter is wrong.
  • Begin to write a report with the introduction. State your goals and purpose of the paper, prove background information on the topic.
  • Choose the methods you’ll use for this research and clearly describe them in your methodology section.
  • Provide an objective presentation of the results. If need be, use visual aids like graphs, tables and charts to illustrate numbers.
  • Present a clear and deep analysis of your findings. Make the connection to the goal of the paper and see if the objective has been met. Discuss the limitations as well.
  • Conclude the report with a short summary of the findings and their significance. 
  • Revise and edit the paper to ensure it’s error-free, flows naturally and is easy to read.
  • Ensure all citations meet the required formatting style and all the references are done in accordance with the guide.

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What methods are used for an academic report?

To write this type of academic paper, you may use many different methods. Your choice mainly depends on the kind of research you are performing. The methods may also vary for different disciplines. If this is all a bit too confusing, you can text ‘ write my report ’ to our support team, and they will help you. But below are some of the methods typically used for reports:

  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research
  • Mixed methods
  • Observations
  • Experimental methods

How to write a report? 

To write a report effectively, start by understanding its purpose and audience. Gather relevant information, outline the structure, and present findings logically. Ensure clarity, coherence, and accuracy throughout. Revise and proofread before submission.

The most important tip for writing is to listen to your professor. Be attentive in class, as they may mention some bits and pieces of valuable information in the duration of the term. They might be testing you and not give you that advice when it’s actual writing time. 

Another important tip is to consult with them every step of the way. Come up to the professor in their office hours and show your progress. Your teacher might offer valuable critique and advice and guide you in the right direction. 

And finally, make sure that you read the assignment through. It might sound basic, but those assignment sheets tend to be written in overly complicated academic language, and if you’re not used to that, it’s easy to miss out on some key details.

How to present results?

In every report writing assignment, you will need to write a results chapter. This is the section where you take all your findings and dump them on paper, except not literally. For your results section to be clear and organized, the findings must be presented in a concise, focused way.

If your methods involve questions (i.e., surveys), make sure to present answers to them in the same order as the questions. If you interview people, try not to flood the paper with quotes. Instead, add the interviews as an appendix and focus on the key findings. If the methods involve numerical data, present it visually. 

Write the discussion chapter

So, how to create a report with the discussion chapter? In it, you’ll need to circle back to your research questions and objectives of the paper. Then, briefly summarize the findings and discuss how the results helped you achieve that objective or answer the research question. 

It’s important to talk about the significance of your findings and what they mean in regards to the existing body of knowledge or your research question. Acknowledge and address the limitations you’ve faced in the course of your research. It could be sample size, limitations in scope or location.

Write a conclusion

When you write a report, you obviously have to bring it to a logical conclusion. For your conclusion to be adequate, you should restate your methods, results and findings briefly. Bring the reader’s attention back to the purpose of the paper and see if you’ve achieved it. Propose a direction for the future inquiry into the topic, considering the limitations you’ve faced. For example, for more extensive research, one could use a broader sample size or a wider age range.

What are the best proofreading techniques?

If you’re wondering how to make a report flow and impress your professor, here’s the answer. You absolutely have to proofread and edit your paper. It’s best to put it away for a day or two after you’ve finished writing. This way, when you come back to it, you’ll be able to look at it afresh. 

Read through the paper carefully several times. You are bound to find some illogical sentences, spelling mistakes or misused words. Reading the paper aloud will also be beneficial. Consider giving it to someone else to read, like a family member or a friend. They might be able to point out some parts that make little sense or sound unnatural.

Lab report writing tips

One of the most popular types of reports is a lab report. To write it properly, you should follow our suggestions.

First, state the purpose of your experiment. Mention the findings you expect to discover, but don’t get too hung up on them. The methodology should explain how exactly the experiment was performed - what were the conditions, what materials were used, and if it was performed independently.

Use visual data to present your results. In the discussion, interpret and analyze them. When concluding the paper, tell the reader what has been discovered and what’s the importance of those findings.

To learn more about how to write a lab report , read our in-depth guide. Now, let’s move on.

How to format a report?

When writing a report, one would often resort to using some external sources. But those sources need to be referenced and cited properly. Refer to your college’s formatting manual, or the PurdueOWL guide to find the most accurate formatting guides.

Pay attention to whether or not citations call for page numbers, what needs to be included in the references, etc. 

Google Docs has recently come up with a referencing tool, be sure to check that out. In some cases, you can even copy the reference at the bottom of search results on Google Scholar.

Last steps before submission 

Before you submit the paper, it’s best to consult with your professor. See if they have any last-minute corrections or tips for you. Look at your school’s guide on how to write a report, it might also be very helpful. Proofread your paper one last time and cross-check all the references. Make sure each source has a citation and vice-versa.

Did you like our report guide?

For more help, tap into our pool of professional writers and get expert report writing services!

Frequently asked questions

How to write reports.

Writing reports is not hard when you have all the tools available. Hopefully, this guide by our report writing services professionals has given you some insight into the process, but let’s round it up. You start with researching your topic and saving potentially valuable sources. After that, write an outline. Use it as your writing guide. 

Write the report chapters in the order that you prefer. If you feel more comfortable starting with methods, nobody will know you wrote the intro last. Present and discuss your results, analyze them and conclude the paper. Proofread it a few times, format, and it’s ready to go!

How many pages should a report be?

You may be asked to write a report of any length. That length depends on many factors. First of all, your academic level. A first year student will be required to write a much shorter paper than a Master’s student. Also, the subject must be taken into account. Different disciplines require different paper lengths. Even your topic may dictate the length of your report. If you’re not sure, just consult with your professor, and they will help you with the details.

What formatting style is best?

The report writing format is also a variable. There’s no straight answer to that question. It may depend on your professor’s habits, your subject, or even your school’s rules. In short, there’s no way for us to know which formatting style your professor will choose.

How often should I consult with my professor during writing?

The more often, the better. As long as they allow you to actively seek their guidance, you both will benefit from it. They can give you insight into the common mistakes made during writing, help you with analyzing your results and even choosing the report format for your paper.

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How to Write a Report for an Assignment: Your Complete Guide

writing report assignments

What Is a Report?

How should you structure a report, how to write a report: 7 steps to follow, in conclusion.

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So, you’re tasked with writing a report. While it may seem like a cakewalk, it’s anything but. It requires strong research, analysis, and academic writing skills.

That said, don’t let this assignment intimidate you. With a good guide and some practice, you can ace this assignment. In any case, you can always count on our online assignment writing service to help you with any request.

While it’s up to you to develop your report-writing skills, we can help you out with this comprehensive guide on how to write a report. Below you’ll find everything you need to craft an A-worthy report yourself:

  • What a report is and how it’s different from other assignments;
  • A typical structure for this type of paper;
  • A step-by-step guide on writing one from scratch.

writing report assignments

The purpose of a report is to recapitulate factual knowledge on a specific topic, usually without giving your opinion on it. That’s what sets it apart from essays, where you have to include your standpoint on the topic.

Academic reports come in many flavors. The most common of them include:

  • Informational reports focus on explaining a particular topic through facts in an organized, impersonal, and objective way.
  • Case studies describe a particular event, person, organization, or phenomenon that serves as an example for a wider research problem.
  • Book reports summarize a work of fiction or non-fiction and sometimes contain an evaluation part.
  • History reports describe a historical event or period, its causes, and consequences, all while relying on facts.
  • Research reports focus on the research conducted by the author, from the methodology to the study’s undergoing and conclusions.

Most reports have to include these nine elements:

  • Title page . It should contain your name, class or course, instructor’s name, the educational establishment’s name, and the paper’s title.
  • Executive summary . Think of it as an abstract for your work – it sums up your paper in one paragraph.
  • Table of contents . Typically used for long reports, it helps readers quickly find this or that section of the paper.
  • Glossary . If your work includes abbreviations, symbols, or niche terms, you can decipher them in this section.
  • Introduction . This paragraph is where you present your topic and give some background information that your readers should be aware of. You should also clearly formulate your thesis statement and describe how you’ll approach your topic.
  • Main body . The longest part of the paper, the main body, is the part where you describe all the facts you’ve discovered during research.
  • Conclusion . It’s the part where you sum up all the information you presented in the main body. You may also express your interpretation or opinion here (if allowed).
  • References . This is the list of all sources you cite in the paper, formatted according to the style you have to use.
  • Appendices . It’s the section with all graphs, tables with data, or illustrations you referenced in the main body.

Typically, you should also include the following elements throughout your paper:

  • Page numbering;
  • Headings and subheadings;

Keep in mind: this is a general structure. Before you use it, consult your assignment and see if any instructions there contradict it.

Plus, some elements are defined by the format of writing assignment you’re required to use. For example, the title page is obligatory for APA papers, while it’s optional for Chicago and MLA formats. Page numbering and citation requirements will also differ across styles.

So, you’ve received your assignment, and you’re ready to start working on it. How should you approach it? Follow these seven steps toward a five-star report.

1. Choose Your Topic

If it hasn’t been assigned to you already, you need to choose the topic of your report yourself. Be mindful: your choice can make or break the quality of your paper. For example, if you pick a topic that’s too niche or complex, you may not have enough reliable sources to include in the paper.

But what makes a topic good for writing a report? Here are three questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there enough information on this topic?
  • Does it spark interest in you?
  • Is it original and specific enough?

If you get “yes” for all three questions, this topic can be a good pick for your assignment.

2. Do Your Research

Now that you have your topic, it’s time to gather all the sources for your work. Here are a few tips on doing research for this and any other academic paper:

  • Check out similar reports or papers – you can use sources provided there, too;
  • Take notes for every source you may use later on – you can even start creating an outline right away;
  • Keep in mind that you may have obligatory sources to include – don’t overlook them;
  • Stick to reliable sources only: research papers, official documents, reputable organizations and institutions specializing in the topic, case studies, etc.;
  • When searching online, filter out results by the top-level domain (.edu for educational establishments, for example) and prioritize using Google Scholar.

3. Create an Outline

If you struggle with starting to write and end up staring at a blank screen, making an outline is a time-tested way to overcome writer’s block.

An outline is a rough plan for your paper. It typically consists of preliminary headings and subheadings, along with short descriptions of each section’s content and sources. 

Your outline doesn’t have to be perfect or well-written! It’s just a way to organize your ideas and information you found during the research.

It’s best to start working on your outline the moment you kick off your research. This way, you won’t forget about a great source or point later.

4. Craft Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is that one sentence where you describe what your report is all about. But don’t confuse it with the topic – your thesis statement should be more specific than the topic you initially settled on.

Let’s say you initially chose “the impact of social media on mental health” as the topic for your assignment. Once you do your research, you’ll notice plenty of sources highlighting its negative consequences on mental health. This pattern will help you phrase your thesis statement.

For this example, the thesis statement can be, “Although it has the power to connect people around the globe, social media can lead to a decline in self-esteem, fear of missing out, anxiety and depression, and Snapchat dysmorphia.”

5. Write the First Draft

Now, it’s time for the most time-consuming part of the writing process: crafting the first draft. Your outline will help you a great deal, though: all you need to do is expand on it – and you’ll have your first draft.

You don’t have to start writing at the beginning. The introduction is typically the toughest to craft, along with the conclusion. So, just look at your outline and start typing wherever you feel like it.

You also don’t have to work on your draft linearly. Writing one section close to the end and then working on another one at the beginning is completely fine. You can ensure that you don’t repeat yourself and that your paper’s logic holds up later on.

Don’t worry about the quality of your writing at this stage; just keep writing. First drafts are never perfect, but you’ll polish off yours later on.

A Few Words on the Writing Style

When you get to the writing process or want to buy an assignment from professionals, keep in mind: you’re expected to use the academic assignment writing style. This means you should:

  • Be concise and to the point;
  • Avoid using informal words, phrases, and expressions;
  • Remain objective in your writing;
  • Write in the third person.

6. Review & Edit the Draft

Ideally, you should let your first draft sit for a day or two. This way, you can revisit it with a fresh pair of eyes. If that’s not an option, put it away for at least 15 minutes.

When you return to your first draft, it’s time to:

  • Reread your draft – you can do it out loud to catch weird turns of phrases and convoluted sentences;
  • Make your text more concise and simple;
  • Check the text for errors in logic, unsubstantiated claims, and repetitions – and fix those;
  • Proofread your text (you can use tools like Grammarly to make this part easier).

7. Format Your Report

Finally, it’s time to take care of the most boring part: formatting. To ace it, check the formatting style you have to use – and follow it to a T when it comes to:

  • References list;
  • Title page;
  • Headers and footers;
  • Appendices.

writing report assignments

Writing a report is hardly a cakewalk. But it’s not impossible, either! All you need to do is set aside enough time for this assignment, do thorough research – and forget about writing a perfect draft on the first try. You should also stick to being objective and factual in your paper (otherwise, it won’t be a report, right?). By the way, we can now help you to do my assignment on any topic! So the report can now be available in two languages from our team. Good luck!

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How to Write a Report

Last Updated: March 15, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Amy Bobinger . Emily Listmann is a Private Tutor and Life Coach in Santa Cruz, California. In 2018, she founded Mindful & Well, a natural healing and wellness coaching service. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. Emily also received her Wellness Coach Certificate from Cornell University and completed the Mindfulness Training by Mindful Schools. There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 8,738,647 times.

When you’re assigned to write a report, it can seem like an intimidating process. Fortunately, if you pay close attention to the report prompt, choose a subject you like, and give yourself plenty of time to research your topic, you might actually find that it’s not so bad. After you gather your research and organize it into an outline, all that’s left is to write out your paragraphs and proofread your paper before you hand it in!

Easy Steps to Write a Report

  • Choose an interesting topic and narrow it down to a specific idea.
  • Take notes as you research your topic. Come up with a thesis, or main theme of your report, based on your research.
  • Outline the main ideas you’ll cover in your report. Then, write the first draft.

Sample Reports

writing report assignments

Selecting Your Topic

Step 1 Read the report prompt or guidelines carefully.

  • The guidelines will also typically tell you the requirements for the structure and format of your report.
  • If you have any questions about the assignment, speak up as soon as possible. That way, you don’t start working on the report, only to find out you have to start over because you misunderstood the report prompt.

Step 2 Choose a topic

  • For instance, if your report is supposed to be on a historical figure, you might choose someone you find really interesting, like the first woman to be governor of a state in the U.S., or the man who invented Silly Putty.
  • If your report is about information technology , you could gather information about the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data or information.
  • Even if you don’t have the option to choose your topic, you can often find something in your research that you find interesting. If your assignment is to give a report on the historical events of the 1960s in America, for example, you could focus your report on the way popular music reflected the events that occurred during that time.

Tip: Always get approval from your teacher or boss on the topic you choose before you start working on the report!

Step 3 Try to pick a topic that is as specific as possible.

  • If you’re not sure what to write about at first, pick a larger topic, then narrow it down as you start researching.
  • For instance, if you wanted to do your report on World Fairs, then you realize that there are way too many of them to talk about, you might choose one specific world fair, such as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, to focus on.
  • However, you wouldn’t necessarily want to narrow it down to something too specific, like “Food at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” since it could be hard to find sources on the subject without just listing a lot of recipes.

Researching the Report

Step 1 Include a variety...

  • If you don’t have guidelines on how many sources to use, try to find 1-2 reputable sources for each page of the report.
  • Sources can be divided into primary sources, like original written works, court records, and interviews, and secondary sources, like reference books and reviews.
  • Databases, abstracts, and indexes are considered tertiary sources, and can be used to help you find primary and secondary sources for your report. [5] X Research source
  • If you’re writing a business report , you may be given some supplementary materials, such as market research or sales reports, or you may need to compile this information yourself. [6] X Research source

Step 2 Visit the library first if you’re writing a report for school.

  • Librarians are an excellent resource when you're working on a report. They can help you find books, articles, and other credible sources.
  • Often, a teacher will limit how many online sources you can use. If you find most of the information you need in the library, you can then use your online sources for details that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Tip: Writing a report can take longer than you think! Don't put off your research until the last minute , or it will be obvious that you didn't put much effort into the assignment.

Step 3 Use only scholarly sources if you do online research.

  • Examples of authoritative online sources include government websites, articles written by known experts, and publications in peer-reviewed journals that have been published online.

Step 4 Cross-reference your sources to find new material.

  • If you’re using a book as one of your sources, check the very back few pages. That’s often where an author will list the sources they used for their book.

Step 5 Keep thorough notes...

  • Remember to number each page of your notes, so you don’t get confused later about what information came from which source!
  • Remember, you’ll need to cite any information that you use in your report; however, exactly how you do this will depend on the format that was assigned to you.

Step 6 Use your research...

  • For most reports, your thesis statement should not contain your own opinions. However, if you're writing a persuasive report, the thesis should contain an argument that you will have to prove in the body of the essay.
  • An example of a straightforward report thesis (Thesis 1) would be: “The three main halls of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.”
  • A thesis for a persuasive report (Thesis 2) might say: “The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was intended as a celebration of the Progressive spirit, but actually harbored a deep racism and principle of white supremacy that most visitors chose to ignore or celebrate.”

Step 7 Organize your notes...

  • The purpose of an outline is to help you to visualize how your essay will look. You can create a straightforward list or make a concept map , depending on what makes the most sense to you.
  • Try to organize the information from your notes so it flows together logically. For instance, it can be helpful to try to group together related items, like important events from a person’s childhood, education, and career, if you’re writing a biographical report.
  • Example main ideas for Thesis 1: Exhibits at the Court of the Universe, Exhibits at the Court of the Four Seasons, Exhibits at the Court of Abundance.

Tip: It can help to create your outline on a computer in case you change your mind as you’re moving information around.

Writing the First Draft

Step 1 Format the report according to the guidelines you were given.

  • Try to follow any formatting instructions to the letter. If there aren't any, opt for something classic, like 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font, double-spaced lines, and 1 in (2.5 cm) margins all around.
  • You'll usually need to include a bibliography at the end of the report that lists any sources you used. You may also need a title page , which should include the title of the report, your name, the date, and the person who requested the report.
  • For some types of reports, you may also need to include a table of contents and an abstract or summary that briefly sums up what you’ve written. It’s typically easier to write these after you’ve finished your first draft. [14] X Research source

Step 2 State your thesis...

  • Example Intro for Thesis 1: “The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915 was intended to celebrate both the creation of the Panama Canal, and the technological advancements achieved at the turn of the century. The three main halls of the PPIE were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.”

Step 3 Start each paragraph in the body of the report with a topic sentence.

  • Typically, you should present the most important or compelling information first.
  • Example topic sentence for Thesis 1: At the PPIE, the Court of the Universe was the heart of the exposition and represented the greatest achievements of man, as well as the meeting of the East and the West.

Tip: Assume that your reader knows little to nothing about the subject. Support your facts with plenty of details and include definitions if you use technical terms or jargon in the paper.

Step 4 Support each topic sentence with evidence from your research.

  • Paraphrasing means restating the original author's ideas in your own words. On the other hand, a direct quote means using the exact words from the original source in quotation marks, with the author cited.
  • For the topic sentence listed above about the Court of the Universe, the body paragraph should go on to list the different exhibits found at the exhibit, as well as proving how the Court represented the meeting of the East and West.
  • Use your sources to support your topic, but don't plagiarize . Always restate the information in your own words. In most cases, you'll get in serious trouble if you just copy from your sources word-for-word. Also, be sure to cite each source as you use it, according to the formatting guidelines you were given. [18] X Research source

Step 5 Follow your evidence with commentary explaining why it links to your thesis.

  • Your commentary needs to be at least 1-2 sentences long. For a longer report, you may write more sentences for each piece of commentary.

Step 6 Summarize your research...

  • Avoid presenting any new information in the conclusion. You don’t want this to be a “Gotcha!” moment. Instead, it should be a strong summary of everything you’ve already told the reader.

Revising Your Report

Step 1 Scan the report to make sure everything is included and makes sense.

  • A good question to ask yourself is, “If I were someone reading this report for the first time, would I feel like I understood the topic after I finished reading?

Tip: If you have time before the deadline, set the report aside for a few days . Then, come back and read it again. This can help you catch errors you might otherwise have missed.

Step 2 Check carefully for proofreading errors.

  • Try reading the report to yourself out loud. Hearing the words can help you catch awkward language or run-on sentences you might not catch by reading it silently.

Step 3 Read each sentence from the end to the beginning.

  • This is a great trick to find spelling errors or grammatical mistakes that your eye would otherwise just scan over.

Step 4 Have someone else proofread it for you.

  • Ask your helper questions like, “Do you understand what I am saying in my report?” “Is there anything you think I should take out or add?” And “Is there anything you would change?”

Step 5 Compare your report to the assignment requirements to ensure it meets expectations.

  • If you have any questions about the assignment requirements, ask your instructor. It's important to know how they'll be grading your assignment.

Expert Q&A

Emily Listmann, MA

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Write a Financial Report

  • ↑ https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reports/writing-up
  • ↑ https://emory.libanswers.com/faq/44525
  • ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-7-sources-choosing-the-right-ones/
  • ↑ https://libguides.merrimack.edu/research_help/Sources
  • ↑ https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/1779625/VBS-Report-Writing-Guide-2017.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.library.illinois.edu/hpnl/tutorials/primary-sources/
  • ↑ https://libguides.scu.edu.au/harvard/secondary-sources
  • ↑ https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/taking-notes-while-reading/
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement.html
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/outline
  • ↑ https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/engl250oer/chapter/10-4-table-of-contents/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/report-writing-format
  • ↑ https://www.monash.edu/rlo/assignment-samples/assignment-types/writing-an-essay/writing-body-paragraphs
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/5-most-effective-methods-for-avoiding-plagiarism/
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/using-evidence.html
  • ↑ https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/writing-report
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/grammarpunct/proofreading/
  • ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-12-peer-review-and-final-revisions/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

It can seem really hard to write a report, but it will be easier if you choose an original topic that you're passionate about. Once you've got your topic, do some research on it at the library and online, using reputable sources like encyclopedias, scholarly journals, and government websites. Use your research write a thesis statement that sums up the focus of your paper, then organize your notes into an outline that supports that thesis statement. Finally, expand that outline into paragraph form. Read on for tips from our Education co-author on how to format your report! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report

Learning outcomes.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify the elements of the rhetorical situation for your report.
  • Find and focus a topic to write about.
  • Gather and analyze information from appropriate sources.
  • Distinguish among different kinds of evidence.
  • Draft a thesis and create an organizational plan.
  • Compose a report that develops ideas and integrates evidence from sources.
  • Give and act on productive feedback to works in progress.

You might think that writing comes easily to experienced writers—that they draft stories and college papers all at once, sitting down at the computer and having sentences flow from their fingers like water from a faucet. In reality, most writers engage in a recursive process, pushing forward, stepping back, and repeating steps multiple times as their ideas develop and change. In broad strokes, the steps most writers go through are these:

  • Planning and Organization . You will have an easier time drafting if you devote time at the beginning to consider the rhetorical situation for your report, understand your assignment, gather ideas and information, draft a thesis statement, and create an organizational plan.
  • Drafting . When you have an idea of what you want to say and the order in which you want to say it, you’re ready to draft. As much as possible, keep going until you have a complete first draft of your report, resisting the urge to go back and rewrite. Save that for after you have completed a first draft.
  • Review . Now is the time to get feedback from others, whether from your instructor, your classmates, a tutor in the writing center, your roommate, someone in your family, or someone else you trust to read your writing critically and give you honest feedback.
  • Revising . With feedback on your draft, you are ready to revise. You may need to return to an earlier step and make large-scale revisions that involve planning, organizing, and rewriting, or you may need to work mostly on ensuring that your sentences are clear and correct.

Considering the Rhetorical Situation

Like other kinds of writing projects, a report starts with assessing the rhetorical situation —the circumstance in which a writer communicates with an audience of readers about a subject. As the writer of a report, you make choices based on the purpose of your writing, the audience who will read it, the genre of the report, and the expectations of the community and culture in which you are working. A graphic organizer like Table 8.1 can help you begin.

Summary of Assignment

Write an analytical report on a topic that interests you and that you want to know more about. The topic can be contemporary or historical, but it must be one that you can analyze and support with evidence from sources.

The following questions can help you think about a topic suitable for analysis:

  • Why or how did ________ happen?
  • What are the results or effects of ________?
  • Is ________ a problem? If so, why?
  • What are examples of ________ or reasons for ________?
  • How does ________ compare to or contrast with other issues, concerns, or things?

Consult and cite three to five reliable sources. The sources do not have to be scholarly for this assignment, but they must be credible, trustworthy, and unbiased. Possible sources include academic journals, newspapers, magazines, reputable websites, government publications or agency websites, and visual sources such as TED Talks. You may also use the results of an experiment or survey, and you may want to conduct interviews.

Consider whether visuals and media will enhance your report. Can you present data you collect visually? Would a map, photograph, chart, or other graphic provide interesting and relevant support? Would video or audio allow you to present evidence that you would otherwise need to describe in words?

Another Lens. To gain another analytic view on the topic of your report, consider different people affected by it. Say, for example, that you have decided to report on recent high school graduates and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the final months of their senior year. If you are a recent high school graduate, you might naturally gravitate toward writing about yourself and your peers. But you might also consider the adults in the lives of recent high school graduates—for example, teachers, parents, or grandparents—and how they view the same period. Or you might consider the same topic from the perspective of a college admissions department looking at their incoming freshman class.

Quick Launch: Finding and Focusing a Topic

Coming up with a topic for a report can be daunting because you can report on nearly anything. The topic can easily get too broad, trapping you in the realm of generalizations. The trick is to find a topic that interests you and focus on an angle you can analyze in order to say something significant about it. You can use a graphic organizer to generate ideas, or you can use a concept map similar to the one featured in Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text.”

Asking the Journalist’s Questions

One way to generate ideas about a topic is to ask the five W (and one H) questions, also called the journalist’s questions : Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Try answering the following questions to explore a topic:

Who was or is involved in ________?

What happened/is happening with ________? What were/are the results of ________?

When did ________ happen? Is ________ happening now?

Where did ________ happen, or where is ________ happening?

Why did ________ happen, or why is ________ happening now?

How did ________ happen?

For example, imagine that you have decided to write your analytical report on the effect of the COVID-19 shutdown on high-school students by interviewing students on your college campus. Your questions and answers might look something like those in Table 8.2 :

Asking Focused Questions

Another way to find a topic is to ask focused questions about it. For example, you might ask the following questions about the effect of the 2020 pandemic shutdown on recent high school graduates:

  • How did the shutdown change students’ feelings about their senior year?
  • How did the shutdown affect their decisions about post-graduation plans, such as work or going to college?
  • How did the shutdown affect their academic performance in high school or in college?
  • How did/do they feel about continuing their education?
  • How did the shutdown affect their social relationships?

Any of these questions might be developed into a thesis for an analytical report. Table 8.3 shows more examples of broad topics and focusing questions.

Gathering Information

Because they are based on information and evidence, most analytical reports require you to do at least some research. Depending on your assignment, you may be able to find reliable information online, or you may need to do primary research by conducting an experiment, a survey, or interviews. For example, if you live among students in their late teens and early twenties, consider what they can tell you about their lives that you might be able to analyze. Returning to or graduating from high school, starting college, or returning to college in the midst of a global pandemic has provided them, for better or worse, with educational and social experiences that are shared widely by people their age and very different from the experiences older adults had at the same age.

Some report assignments will require you to do formal research, an activity that involves finding sources and evaluating them for reliability, reading them carefully, taking notes, and citing all words you quote and ideas you borrow. See Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information and Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources for detailed instruction on conducting research.

Whether you conduct in-depth research or not, keep track of the ideas that come to you and the information you learn. You can write or dictate notes using an app on your phone or computer, or you can jot notes in a journal if you prefer pen and paper. Then, when you are ready to begin organizing your report, you will have a record of your thoughts and information. Always track the sources of information you gather, whether from printed or digital material or from a person you interviewed, so that you can return to the sources if you need more information. And always credit the sources in your report.

Kinds of Evidence

Depending on your assignment and the topic of your report, certain kinds of evidence may be more effective than others. Other kinds of evidence may even be required. As a general rule, choose evidence that is rooted in verifiable facts and experience. In addition, select the evidence that best supports the topic and your approach to the topic, be sure the evidence meets your instructor’s requirements, and cite any evidence you use that comes from a source. The following list contains different kinds of frequently used evidence and an example of each.

Definition : An explanation of a key word, idea, or concept.

The U.S. Census Bureau refers to a “young adult” as a person between 18 and 34 years old.

Example : An illustration of an idea or concept.

The college experience in the fall of 2020 was starkly different from that of previous years. Students who lived in residence halls were assigned to small pods. On-campus dining services were limited. Classes were small and physically distanced or conducted online. Parties were banned.

Expert opinion : A statement by a professional in the field whose opinion is respected.

According to Louise Aronson, MD, geriatrician and author of Elderhood , people over the age of 65 are the happiest of any age group, reporting “less stress, depression, worry, and anger, and more enjoyment, happiness, and satisfaction” (255).

Fact : Information that can be proven correct or accurate.

According to data collected by the NCAA, the academic success of Division I college athletes between 2015 and 2019 was consistently high (Hosick).

Interview : An in-person, phone, or remote conversation that involves an interviewer posing questions to another person or people.

During our interview, I asked Betty about living without a cell phone during the pandemic. She said that before the pandemic, she hadn’t needed a cell phone in her daily activities, but she soon realized that she, and people like her, were increasingly at a disadvantage.

Quotation : The exact words of an author or a speaker.

In response to whether she thought she needed a cell phone, Betty said, “I got along just fine without a cell phone when I could go everywhere in person. The shift to needing a phone came suddenly, and I don’t have extra money in my budget to get one.”

Statistics : A numerical fact or item of data.

The Pew Research Center reported that approximately 25 percent of Hispanic Americans and 17 percent of Black Americans relied on smartphones for online access, compared with 12 percent of White people.

Survey : A structured interview in which respondents (the people who answer the survey questions) are all asked the same questions, either in person or through print or electronic means, and their answers tabulated and interpreted. Surveys discover attitudes, beliefs, or habits of the general public or segments of the population.

A survey of 3,000 mobile phone users in October 2020 showed that 54 percent of respondents used their phones for messaging, while 40 percent used their phones for calls (Steele).

  • Visuals : Graphs, figures, tables, photographs and other images, diagrams, charts, maps, videos, and audio recordings, among others.

Thesis and Organization

Drafting a thesis.

When you have a grasp of your topic, move on to the next phase: drafting a thesis. The thesis is the central idea that you will explore and support in your report; all paragraphs in your report should relate to it. In an essay-style analytical report, you will likely express this main idea in a thesis statement of one or two sentences toward the end of the introduction.

For example, if you found that the academic performance of student athletes was higher than that of non-athletes, you might write the following thesis statement:

student sample text Although a common stereotype is that college athletes barely pass their classes, an analysis of athletes’ academic performance indicates that athletes drop fewer classes, earn higher grades, and are more likely to be on track to graduate in four years when compared with their non-athlete peers. end student sample text

The thesis statement often previews the organization of your writing. For example, in his report on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Trevor Garcia wrote the following thesis statement, which detailed the central idea of his report:

student sample text An examination of the U.S. response shows that a reduction of experts in key positions and programs, inaction that led to equipment shortages, and inconsistent policies were three major causes of the spread of the virus and the resulting deaths. end student sample text

After you draft a thesis statement, ask these questions, and examine your thesis as you answer them. Revise your draft as needed.

  • Is it interesting? A thesis for a report should answer a question that is worth asking and piques curiosity.
  • Is it precise and specific? If you are interested in reducing pollution in a nearby lake, explain how to stop the zebra mussel infestation or reduce the frequent algae blooms.
  • Is it manageable? Try to split the difference between having too much information and not having enough.

Organizing Your Ideas

As a next step, organize the points you want to make in your report and the evidence to support them. Use an outline, a diagram, or another organizational tool, such as Table 8.4 .

Drafting an Analytical Report

With a tentative thesis, an organization plan, and evidence, you are ready to begin drafting. For this assignment, you will report information, analyze it, and draw conclusions about the cause of something, the effect of something, or the similarities and differences between two different things.

Introduction

Some students write the introduction first; others save it for last. Whenever you choose to write the introduction, use it to draw readers into your report. Make the topic of your report clear, and be concise and sincere. End the introduction with your thesis statement. Depending on your topic and the type of report, you can write an effective introduction in several ways. Opening a report with an overview is a tried-and-true strategy, as shown in the following example on the U.S. response to COVID-19 by Trevor Garcia. Notice how he opens the introduction with statistics and a comparison and follows it with a question that leads to the thesis statement (underlined).

student sample text With more than 83 million cases and 1.8 million deaths at the end of 2020, COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. By the end of 2020, the United States led the world in the number of cases, at more than 20 million infections and nearly 350,000 deaths. In comparison, the second-highest number of cases was in India, which at the end of 2020 had less than half the number of COVID-19 cases despite having a population four times greater than the U.S. (“COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic,” 2021). How did the United States come to have the world’s worst record in this pandemic? underline An examination of the U.S. response shows that a reduction of experts in key positions and programs, inaction that led to equipment shortages, and inconsistent policies were three major causes of the spread of the virus and the resulting deaths end underline . end student sample text

For a less formal report, you might want to open with a question, quotation, or brief story. The following example opens with an anecdote that leads to the thesis statement (underlined).

student sample text Betty stood outside the salon, wondering how to get in. It was June of 2020, and the door was locked. A sign posted on the door provided a phone number for her to call to be let in, but at 81, Betty had lived her life without a cell phone. Betty’s day-to-day life had been hard during the pandemic, but she had planned for this haircut and was looking forward to it; she had a mask on and hand sanitizer in her car. Now she couldn’t get in the door, and she was discouraged. In that moment, Betty realized how much Americans’ dependence on cell phones had grown in the months since the pandemic began. underline Betty and thousands of other senior citizens who could not afford cell phones or did not have the technological skills and support they needed were being left behind in a society that was increasingly reliant on technology end underline . end student sample text

Body Paragraphs: Point, Evidence, Analysis

Use the body paragraphs of your report to present evidence that supports your thesis. A reliable pattern to keep in mind for developing the body paragraphs of a report is point , evidence , and analysis :

  • The point is the central idea of the paragraph, usually given in a topic sentence stated in your own words at or toward the beginning of the paragraph. Each topic sentence should relate to the thesis.
  • The evidence you provide develops the paragraph and supports the point made in the topic sentence. Include details, examples, quotations, paraphrases, and summaries from sources if you conducted formal research. Synthesize the evidence you include by showing in your sentences the connections between sources.
  • The analysis comes at the end of the paragraph. In your own words, draw a conclusion about the evidence you have provided and how it relates to the topic sentence.

The paragraph below illustrates the point, evidence, and analysis pattern. Drawn from a report about concussions among football players, the paragraph opens with a topic sentence about the NCAA and NFL and their responses to studies about concussions. The paragraph is developed with evidence from three sources. It concludes with a statement about helmets and players’ safety.

student sample text The NCAA and NFL have taken steps forward and backward to respond to studies about the danger of concussions among players. Responding to the deaths of athletes, documented brain damage, lawsuits, and public outcry (Buckley et al., 2017), the NCAA instituted protocols to reduce potentially dangerous hits during football games and to diagnose traumatic head injuries more quickly and effectively. Still, it has allowed players to wear more than one style of helmet during a season, raising the risk of injury because of imperfect fit. At the professional level, the NFL developed a helmet-rating system in 2011 in an effort to reduce concussions, but it continued to allow players to wear helmets with a wide range of safety ratings. The NFL’s decision created an opportunity for researchers to look at the relationship between helmet safety ratings and concussions. Cocello et al. (2016) reported that players who wore helmets with a lower safety rating had more concussions than players who wore helmets with a higher safety rating, and they concluded that safer helmets are a key factor in reducing concussions. end student sample text

Developing Paragraph Content

In the body paragraphs of your report, you will likely use examples, draw comparisons, show contrasts, or analyze causes and effects to develop your topic.

Paragraphs developed with Example are common in reports. The paragraph below, adapted from a report by student John Zwick on the mental health of soldiers deployed during wartime, draws examples from three sources.

student sample text Throughout the Vietnam War, military leaders claimed that the mental health of soldiers was stable and that men who suffered from combat fatigue, now known as PTSD, were getting the help they needed. For example, the New York Times (1966) quoted military leaders who claimed that mental fatigue among enlisted men had “virtually ceased to be a problem,” occurring at a rate far below that of World War II. Ayres (1969) reported that Brigadier General Spurgeon Neel, chief American medical officer in Vietnam, explained that soldiers experiencing combat fatigue were admitted to the psychiatric ward, sedated for up to 36 hours, and given a counseling session with a doctor who reassured them that the rest was well deserved and that they were ready to return to their units. Although experts outside the military saw profound damage to soldiers’ psyches when they returned home (Halloran, 1970), the military stayed the course, treating acute cases expediently and showing little concern for the cumulative effect of combat stress on individual soldiers. end student sample text

When you analyze causes and effects , you explain the reasons that certain things happened and/or their results. The report by Trevor Garcia on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is an example: his report examines the reasons the United States failed to control the coronavirus. The paragraph below, adapted from another student’s report written for an environmental policy course, explains the effect of white settlers’ views of forest management on New England.

student sample text The early colonists’ European ideas about forest management dramatically changed the New England landscape. White settlers saw the New World as virgin, unused land, even though indigenous people had been drawing on its resources for generations by using fire subtly to improve hunting, employing construction techniques that left ancient trees intact, and farming small, efficient fields that left the surrounding landscape largely unaltered. White settlers’ desire to develop wood-built and wood-burning homesteads surrounded by large farm fields led to forestry practices and techniques that resulted in the removal of old-growth trees. These practices defined the way the forests look today. end student sample text

Compare and contrast paragraphs are useful when you wish to examine similarities and differences. You can use both comparison and contrast in a single paragraph, or you can use one or the other. The paragraph below, adapted from a student report on the rise of populist politicians, compares the rhetorical styles of populist politicians Huey Long and Donald Trump.

student sample text A key similarity among populist politicians is their rejection of carefully crafted sound bites and erudite vocabulary typically associated with candidates for high office. Huey Long and Donald Trump are two examples. When he ran for president, Long captured attention through his wild gesticulations on almost every word, dramatically varying volume, and heavily accented, folksy expressions, such as “The only way to be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain’t got no business with!” In addition, Long’s down-home persona made him a credible voice to represent the common people against the country’s rich, and his buffoonish style allowed him to express his radical ideas without sounding anti-communist alarm bells. Similarly, Donald Trump chose to speak informally in his campaign appearances, but the persona he projected was that of a fast-talking, domineering salesman. His frequent use of personal anecdotes, rhetorical questions, brief asides, jokes, personal attacks, and false claims made his speeches disjointed, but they gave the feeling of a running conversation between him and his audience. For example, in a 2015 speech, Trump said, “They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don’t have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken” (“Our Country Needs” 2020). While very different in substance, Long and Trump adopted similar styles that positioned them as the antithesis of typical politicians and their worldviews. end student sample text

The conclusion should draw the threads of your report together and make its significance clear to readers. You may wish to review the introduction, restate the thesis, recommend a course of action, point to the future, or use some combination of these. Whichever way you approach it, the conclusion should not head in a new direction. The following example is the conclusion from a student’s report on the effect of a book about environmental movements in the United States.

student sample text Since its publication in 1949, environmental activists of various movements have found wisdom and inspiration in Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac . These audiences included Leopold’s conservationist contemporaries, environmentalists of the 1960s and 1970s, and the environmental justice activists who rose in the 1980s and continue to make their voices heard today. These audiences have read the work differently: conservationists looked to the author as a leader, environmentalists applied his wisdom to their movement, and environmental justice advocates have pointed out the flaws in Leopold’s thinking. Even so, like those before them, environmental justice activists recognize the book’s value as a testament to taking the long view and eliminating biases that may cloud an objective assessment of humanity’s interdependent relationship with the environment. end student sample text

Citing Sources

You must cite the sources of information and data included in your report. Citations must appear in both the text and a bibliography at the end of the report.

The sample paragraphs in the previous section include examples of in-text citation using APA documentation style. Trevor Garcia’s report on the U.S. response to COVID-19 in 2020 also uses APA documentation style for citations in the text of the report and the list of references at the end. Your instructor may require another documentation style, such as MLA or Chicago.

Peer Review: Getting Feedback from Readers

You will likely engage in peer review with other students in your class by sharing drafts and providing feedback to help spot strengths and weaknesses in your reports. For peer review within a class, your instructor may provide assignment-specific questions or a form for you to complete as you work together.

If you have a writing center on your campus, it is well worth your time to make an online or in-person appointment with a tutor. You’ll receive valuable feedback and improve your ability to review not only your report but your overall writing.

Another way to receive feedback on your report is to ask a friend or family member to read your draft. Provide a list of questions or a form such as the one in Table 8.5 for them to complete as they read.

Revising: Using Reviewers’ Responses to Revise your Work

When you receive comments from readers, including your instructor, read each comment carefully to understand what is being asked. Try not to get defensive, even though this response is completely natural. Remember that readers are like coaches who want you to succeed. They are looking at your writing from outside your own head, and they can identify strengths and weaknesses that you may not have noticed. Keep track of the strengths and weaknesses your readers point out. Pay special attention to those that more than one reader identifies, and use this information to improve your report and later assignments.

As you analyze each response, be open to suggestions for improvement, and be willing to make significant revisions to improve your writing. Perhaps you need to revise your thesis statement to better reflect the content of your draft. Maybe you need to return to your sources to better understand a point you’re trying to make in order to develop a paragraph more fully. Perhaps you need to rethink the organization, move paragraphs around, and add transition sentences.

Below is an early draft of part of Trevor Garcia’s report with comments from a peer reviewer:

student sample text To truly understand what happened, it’s important first to look back to the years leading up to the pandemic. Epidemiologists and public health officials had long known that a global pandemic was possible. In 2016, the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) published a 69-page document with the intimidating title Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents . The document’s two sections address responses to “emerging disease threats that start or are circulating in another country but not yet confirmed within U.S. territorial borders” and to “emerging disease threats within our nation’s borders.” On 13 January 2017, the joint Obama-Trump transition teams performed a pandemic preparedness exercise; however, the playbook was never adopted by the incoming administration. end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: Do the words in quotation marks need to be a direct quotation? It seems like a paraphrase would work here. end annotated text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: I’m getting lost in the details about the playbook. What’s the Obama-Trump transition team? end annotated text

student sample text In February 2018, the administration began to cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; cuts to other health agencies continued throughout 2018, with funds diverted to unrelated projects such as housing for detained immigrant children. end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: This paragraph has only one sentence, and it’s more like an example. It needs a topic sentence and more development. end annotated text

student sample text Three months later, Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the NSC, spoke at a symposium marking the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic. “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” she said. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.” end student sample text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: This paragraph is very short and a lot like the previous paragraph in that it’s a single example. It needs a topic sentence. Maybe you can combine them? end annotated text

annotated text Peer Review Comment: Be sure to cite the quotation. end annotated text

Reading these comments and those of others, Trevor decided to combine the three short paragraphs into one paragraph focusing on the fact that the United States knew a pandemic was possible but was unprepared for it. He developed the paragraph, using the short paragraphs as evidence and connecting the sentences and evidence with transitional words and phrases. Finally, he added in-text citations in APA documentation style to credit his sources. The revised paragraph is below:

student sample text Epidemiologists and public health officials in the United States had long known that a global pandemic was possible. In 2016, the National Security Council (NSC) published Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents , a 69-page document on responding to diseases spreading within and outside of the United States. On January 13, 2017, the joint transition teams of outgoing president Barack Obama and then president-elect Donald Trump performed a pandemic preparedness exercise based on the playbook; however, it was never adopted by the incoming administration (Goodman & Schulkin, 2020). A year later, in February 2018, the Trump administration began to cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaving key positions unfilled. Other individuals who were fired or resigned in 2018 were the homeland security adviser, whose portfolio included global pandemics; the director for medical and biodefense preparedness; and the top official in charge of a pandemic response. None of them were replaced, leaving the White House with no senior person who had experience in public health (Goodman & Schulkin, 2020). Experts voiced concerns, among them Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the NSC, who spoke at a symposium marking the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic in May 2018: “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” she said. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no” (Sun, 2018, final para.). end student sample text

A final word on working with reviewers’ comments: as you consider your readers’ suggestions, remember, too, that you remain the author. You are free to disregard suggestions that you think will not improve your writing. If you choose to disregard comments from your instructor, consider submitting a note explaining your reasons with the final draft of your report.

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  • Authors: Michelle Bachelor Robinson, Maria Jerskey, featuring Toby Fulwiler
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  • Book title: Writing Guide with Handbook
  • Publication date: Dec 21, 2021
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Essay and report writing skills

Essay and report writing skills

Course description

Course content, course reviews.

Writing reports and assignments can be a daunting prospect. Learn how to interpret questions and how to plan, structure and write your assignment or report. This free course, Essay and report writing skills, is designed to help you develop the skills you need to write effectively for academic purposes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand what writing an assignment involves
  • identify strengths and weaknesses
  • understand the functions of essays and reports
  • demonstrate writing skills.

First Published: 10/08/2012

Updated: 26/04/2019

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Approach English Grammar CBSE ICSE ISE WBBSE

Report Writing: Format, Topics, and Examples

writing report assignments

Learn the essentials of report writing with this comprehensive guide. Explore the proper format, find inspiring topics, and discover real-world examples to enhance your report writing skills.

What is Report Writing?

A Report Writing is a written account that helps us to know about an event, situation, or occurrence in detail that has already taken place.

Report Writing is a narrative of Events described in an impartial approach. Rules and Format of Report Writing are necessary to know for English report writing. Examples of Report Writing help us in doing this easily.

The Power of Effective Report Writing

Report writing is a skill that transcends industries and disciplines, playing a vital role in conveying information, analyzing data, and making informed decisions. 

Whether you are a student, a researcher, a business professional, or someone looking to improve your communication abilities, mastering the art of report writing is essential for success. 

This article will provide you with insights into the format, topics, and real-world examples of report writing to help you become a proficient report writer.

Understanding the Format of a Report

A well-structured report not only facilitates easy comprehension but also leaves a lasting impact on the reader. Understanding the proper format is the foundation of creating an effective report. In crafting a comprehensive and impactful report, one must carefully consider and include the following crucial elements. :

1. Title Page

The title page should include the report’s title, the name of the author or organization, the date of submission, and any relevant affiliations.

2. Abstract or Executive Summary

The abstract or executive summary is a concise overview of the report’s main points, providing the reader with a snapshot of the entire report’s content.

3. Table of Contents

The table of contents outlines the report’s structure, listing the headings and subheadings with corresponding page numbers.

4. Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for the report, providing context, stating the purpose, and highlighting the significance of the topic.

5. Methodology

In research-oriented reports, the methodology section explains the approach taken to gather data, conduct experiments, or perform studies.

6. Findings

The findings section presents the data collected or the results of the research in a clear and organized manner, often using tables, graphs, or charts.

7. Discussion

The discussion section interprets the findings, provides insights, and offers explanations for observed patterns or trends.

8. Conclusion

The conclusion summarizes the main points, draws conclusions based on the findings, and may include recommendations for future actions.

9. Recommendations

In reports with actionable outcomes, the recommendations section suggests specific steps or strategies based on the findings.

10. References

The references section lists all the sources cited in the report, ensuring proper acknowledgment of external work and adding credibility.

Writing Tips for an Effective Sample Report

Creating a compelling report requires not just proper structure but also excellent writing skills. Here are some valuable tips to enhance your report writing:

1. Know Your Audience

Understanding your target audience is crucial when writing a report. Tailor your language, tone, and content to suit the reader’s level of expertise and interest.

2. Use Clear and Concise Language

Keep your writing clear, straightforward, and to the point. Avoid jargon and unnecessary technical terms that may confuse readers.

3. Organize Information Logically

Present information in a logical sequence, ensuring that each section flows smoothly into the next. Use headings and subheadings to provide a clear structure.

4. Support Claims with Evidence

Back up your statements with credible evidence and data. This adds credibility to your report and strengthens your arguments.

5. Edit and Proofread Thoroughly

Always review your report for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. A well-edited report shows professionalism and attention to detail.

6. Seek Feedback

Before finalizing your report, seek feedback from colleagues or peers. Fresh perspectives can help identify areas of improvement.

Selecting Engaging Report Writing Topics

Choosing the right topic is essential for crafting a compelling report. Whether it’s for academic, business, or research purposes, an engaging topic will capture the reader’s interest and keep them invested in your report. Here are some inspiring report writing topics:

1. The Impact of Technology on Modern Workplace s

Explore how technology has transformed traditional workplaces, affecting productivity, communication, and employee satisfaction.

2. Environmental Sustainability in Urban Cities

Examine the efforts made by urban cities to promote environmental sustainability, including green initiatives and waste reduction strategies.

3. The Rise of E-Learning: A Comprehensive Analysis

Analyze the growth of e-learning platforms, their effectiveness in education, and their potential to revolutionize the traditional learning system.

4. Cybersecurity Threats and Mitigation Strategies for Businesses

Investigate the latest cybersecurity threats faced by businesses and outline effective strategies to safeguard sensitive data and prevent cyber attacks.

5. Mental Health in the Workplace: Strategies for Employee Well-Being

Discuss the importance of addressing mental health issues in the workplace and propose strategies to support employee well-being.

Real-World Examples of Impactful Reports

To gain a deeper understanding of report writing’s practical applications, let’s explore some real-world examples:

1. World Health Organization (WHO) – Global Health Report

The WHO publishes comprehensive reports on global health issues, providing data on disease outbreaks, vaccination rates, and healthcare access worldwide. These reports play a crucial role in shaping global health policies and initiatives.

2. McKinsey & Company – Industry Research Reports

Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company produces insightful industry research reports that analyze market trends, consumer behavior, and business strategies. These reports serve as valuable resources for executives and decision-makers.

3. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – Climate Assessment Reports

The IPCC releases periodic reports on climate change, assessing its impacts, causes, and potential solutions. These reports are instrumental in guiding environmental policies and international climate agreements.

A Sample Report Writing Format on A Bank Robbery.

The following points will make it easy to write a report easily shown below.

( Heading) DARING BANK ROBBERY

( Who Reported ) By a Special Correspondent

Where, When, What: Kolkata, August 14 (Introduction): A daring (CART) robbery took place today at 3 p.m. at the United Bank of India, Gariahat Branch, Kolkata.

How, why, Casualty: According to the Branch Manager, three men armed with pistols overpowered the security staff and locked the gate from the inside. One of the miscreants (710) herded the customers and the staff into one corner of the bank and kept them silent at gunpoint. The other two miscreants snatched the keys from the Manager.

Condition: Then they unlocked the vault and bagged cash and jewelry worth Rs. 40 lacks. They came out of the bank hurling bombs, jumped into a black Maruti Van, and sped away.

Reaction & Measures Taken (Conclusion): The police arrived within half an hour. No one has been arrested yet. Investigations are on, as the Deputy Commissioner of Police told the media.

People may also like

Report writing types in english:.

Basically, Report writing in English is of  three types .

  • General Report Writing:  These reports give an account of a person’s experience of an event or an incident.
  • Newspaper Report Writing:  Newspaper reports are based on true incidents or accidents meant to express some information to the public.
  • Business Report Writing:  Business reports are made on orders based on observation, investigation, and analysis.

General Report Writing Examples

Example 1: Business Report – Market Analysis

Title: Market Analysis for XYZ Company’s Product Expansion

Executive Summary: The market analysis report assesses the potential of XYZ Company to expand its product line into a new market segment.

Introduction: This report aims to investigate the feasibility and potential challenges associated with XYZ Company’s entry into the youth-oriented consumer electronics market.

Methodology: Data was collected through a combination of surveys, focus groups, and secondary research from reputable industry reports.

Findings: The youth-oriented consumer electronics market is growing rapidly, with an annual growth rate of 12% over the past three years.

XYZ Company’s brand recognition is relatively low among the target audience.

The price sensitivity of the target market is a significant factor to consider.

  • Analysis: The findings suggest that while there is a lucrative opportunity for XYZ Company to enter the market, it will require a focused marketing campaign and competitive pricing strategies to overcome initial brand awareness challenges.
  • Discussion: By leveraging social media and influencers, XYZ Company can effectively reach the target audience and build brand loyalty. Additionally, offering a competitive pricing model will attract price-conscious customers.
  • Recommendations:
  • Collaborate with popular influencers to gain credibility and reach a wider audience.

Offer attractive introductory pricing and discounts to entice price-sensitive customers.

Conclusion: Entering the youth-oriented consumer electronics market presents a promising opportunity for XYZ Company. By implementing the recommended strategies, the company can capitalize on this potential growth and expand its product line successfully.

Remember that the specific format and content of a report may vary based on the requirements set by your institution, organization, or supervisor. Always check for any specific guidelines before starting your report writing.

Write a newspaper report on the “Annual Prize Distribution Ceremony in your school” 

Annual Prize Distribution Ceremony in your school

By Staff Reporter

[City, Date]: The air was abuzz with excitement and anticipation as [Your School Name] hosted its grand Annual Prize Distribution Ceremony yesterday. The event, held in the school auditorium, was a momentous occasion that celebrated the academic excellence and achievements of the students.

Distinguished guests, parents, and faculty members graced the ceremony with their presence. The school principal, in his opening address, emphasized the significance of recognizing and applauding students’ efforts beyond academics.

The highlight of the event was the distribution of prizes to the meritorious students, acknowledging their outstanding performance in academics, sports, and extracurricular activities. The audience erupted with applause as the achievers walked up the stage to receive their awards.

The melodious music, vibrant dances, and thought-provoking skits captivated the audience.

The Annual Prize Distribution Ceremony concluded on a high note, leaving everyone inspired and motivated. It served as a testament to the school’s commitment to nurturing holistic development among its students.

[Your School Name] once again proved that it is not only a center of academic excellence but also a platform for nurturing well-rounded individuals.

By [Your Name]

Write a newspaper repot on “A terrible fire broke out in Kolkata”

Terrible fire breaks out in kolkata, causing extensive damage.

Kolkata, Date: A devastating fire broke out in a commercial area of Kolkata yesterday, causing widespread destruction and panic among residents and businesses. The incident occurred in the bustling market district, engulfing several multi-story buildings.

Eyewitnesses reported that the fire started in one of the shops due to an electrical short circuit and quickly spread to nearby establishments. Despite the immediate response from firefighters, the blaze proved challenging to control, as narrow streets hindered their access.

Local authorities and emergency services rushed to the scene, evacuating people from nearby buildings and providing medical assistance to those affected. Tragically, a few individuals sustained minor injuries in the process.

The fire caused extensive damage to properties, resulting in significant financial losses for business owners. The full extent of the damage is yet to be assessed.

Investigations into the incident are underway to determine the exact cause and potential safety lapses. As the city mourns the loss of properties and livelihoods, efforts are being made to extend relief and support to the affected residents.

1. Write a report for a newspaper about A Terrible Train Accident.

Odisha Train Accident / Coromandel Express Train Accident

Balasore, 3rd June 2023: At around 7 pm, 2nd June on Friday evening 10-12 coaches of the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express derailed near Baleswar and fell on the opposite track. After some time, another train from Yeswanthpur to Howrah dashed into those derailed coaches resulting in the derailment of its 3-4 coaches. The train crash involving two passenger trains and a goods train in Odisha’s Balasore on Friday is said to be one of the deadliest rail accidents in India. More than 230 people have lost their lives in the accident and 900 have been injured. NDRF, ODRAF, and Fire Services are still working to cut the bogie and try to recover the living or the dead. Local people were seen helping the teams responsible for rescue and relief operations and they queued up to donate blood for the injured in Balasore. As a result, Local people became able to rescue 200-300 injured people A high-level committee has been declared to conduct an inquiry into the train accident. The Centre has announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 10 Lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 2 Lakh to grievous and Rs 50,000 for minor injuries, Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnav said.

2. Write a report for a newspaper about A Magic Show .

By Anik Dutta

On Friday, November 18:  our school authority invited a magician to surprise the students of the school with a magic show. The magic show was a gift to the students from the school’s authoritative body as the school won the award for Best Disciplined School in Kolkata for the year 2015. The magic show was organized on the school’s open-air stage. The show went on for 2 hours, from 12 to 2 pm. The first magic shown by the great magician was pulling out of a rabbit from his hat which was absolutely empty when he wore it. The spectators were pleasantly surprised. He showed exciting magic tricks one after the other and ended the show with a message to the awestruck students, ‘Practice maths well, and you can do magic too as it is nothing but a game of calculation’. The show was immensely appreciated by all.

3. Write a report for a newspaper about Health Issues of the people of your District .

Health Issues of the People of Your District

By Ravi Yogi

On 20 May 2021:  a health awareness campaign camp was organized in the Howrah district by the World Health Organisation. Some volunteers were chosen, who from then on, visit each house every month to remind people to get their children vaccinated. People now follow their instructions and keep their surroundings clean to avoid certain diseases. The volunteers distributed water purifiers at a cheap rate so that people could use them to get pure water. The mosquito-repellant sprays are used every month and mosquito nets are now used to keep mosquitoes away. If the volunteers arrange a blood donation camp every month it could help the people in need. Also, a free health checkup camp could be arranged for further health improvement of the people of the locality.

4. Write a report for a newspaper about the Annual sports Event of Your School .

Annual Sports Event of Your School

By Anwesha Das

The annual sports day of our school (St. Agnes H.S. School) was held on February 15 for the junior students at the school grounds. The event for the junior students started at 9:30 in the morning with a relay race. The next race they had was a tricycle race and the last one the junior students had was a treat to watch. The junior ones’ had to run wearing long gowns and they had to run the track without falling even once.

The juniors enjoyed the fun sporting events a lot, while the visitors’ race involving the parents remained the highlight of the day. At the end of the program Chief Guest Sourav Ganguly gave away the awards to the winners and the class teacher of each class distributed a box containing candies, a chocolate pastry, an orange, and two vanilla cream-filled wafer biscuits to every pupil of her class. The event turned out to be a joyful one with a smile on everyone’s face.

Newspaper Report Writing : Format, Topics, Examples

5. write a newspaper report on the first downpour of the season ..

FIRST DOWNPOUR OF THE SEASON

Kolkata, June 13:  Today Kolkata experienced its first downpour during the season. The showers were brought about by a deep depression over the Gangetic West Bengal. There was incessant (WESO) rainfall accompanied by thunder and lightning. In Kolkata, it rained throughout the day with occasional breaks. The weather office at Alipore has recorded a rainfall of 20 cm. Many low-lying areas went underwater. Some of the major roads were waterlogged for several hours. There were traffic jams on many roads. The hand-pulled rickshaws had stopped. Train and air services were disrupted. There were cable faults in many parts of the city. Two persons were electrocuted. But they have not yet been identified, said the police officials.

6. As a Reporter for an English daily, write a report about A violent cyclonic storm .

A VIOLENT CYCLONIC STORM

By a Special Correspondent

Katak, August 12:  A violent cyclonic storm ravaged the coastal areas of Odisha today. The cyclone started at about 6.45 p.m. It was said to have rushed at a speed of 80 km per hour. The worst-affected areas include Puri, Baleswar, and Paradip. The cyclone raised the sea to an alarming height. The high tidal waves submerged the low-lying coastal areas. It caused incalculable damage to life and property. More than 10,000 people were rendered homeless. Train services were totally disrupted. The State Government sent its rescue team along with central paramilitary forces to tackle the situation. A sum of Rs. 3 crores has been sanctioned for the relief and rehabilitation of the cyclone-hit people.

7. Write a report for a newspaper about A Serious Road Accident

A Serious Road Accident

Kolkata, January 18:  As many as 20 persons including two women and a child were injured in an accident at about 8 pm, on M, G, Road yesterday. The accident took place when a speeding minibus, in a bid to overtake a private bus, skidded off the road. The vehicle carrying 45 passengers went straight into a shopping mall, after breaking the roadside railing, Persons inside the mall and the bus suffered serious injuries Local people started the rescue operation. The injured were taken to the nearest hospital. Locals got agitated and blocked the road causing the suspension of traffic for more than 3 hours. However, the police came and brought the situation under control.

8. Write a report within 100 words for an English daily about Cyclone hitting Coastal West Bengal .

Cyclone hits Coastal West Bengal

-By a Staff Reporter

Kolkata, June 12, 2013:  A severe cyclone with a speed of 80 km. per hour hit the coastal areas of West Bengal yesterday evening at about 6-45 p.m. Caused by a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone ripped through the state resulting in huge damage to life and property. 60 persons have died and thousands have been rendered homeless. Train services have been disrupted leaving a number of people stranded. The state government has taken immediate steps to provide relief to the victims. More than 5000 people have been evacuated to temporary relief shelters. The Chief Minister has reviewed the situation and assured the people of all help.

9. Write a newspaper report on a road accident within 100 words .

BRAKE FAILURE BUS COLLIDES WITH A TRUCK

By a Staff Reporter

Kolkata, October 1, 2015:  Yesterday at around 10:30 am an accident took place at Sinthi More when an Esplanade bound bus, of route no 78/1, suddenly collided with a truck. The report says the brake failure of the bus was the cause of this mishap. Five passengers were injured including a child and a woman. According to passengers, the ill-fated bus was moving at a great speed. Near Sinthi More the driver lost control and banged behind a truck. Local people rushed in, and took the injured to the nearest hospital where they were released after first aid. Traffic got disrupted. Cops reached the spot quickly, intervened, and normalcy was restored within an hour.

10. Write a report on a Railway accident.

A MAN DIED IN A RAILWAY ACCIDENT

By Kishore Ganguli

Kolkata, April 25:  A man died after he had been hit by a Sealdah bound train close to Barrackpore station around 5.40 am today when the victim was returning home from a regular morning walk. According to an eyewitness, the man was trying to cross the tracks, got confused, and ended up on the track on which the train was coming on. Being hit on his head, he was hospitalized immediately. But the doctors declared him dead. The locals made a blockade on the railway tracks. The police came, dispersed the irate mob and the train service was restored. The railway authorities announced an exgratia payment of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. The situation is tense till now.

FAQs about Report Writing

Q: what is the ideal length for a report.

Reports can vary in length depending on their purpose and complexity. However, a concise report of 10-20 pages is often preferred to keep the reader engaged.

Q: Can I use bullet points in my report?

Yes, using bullet points can enhance readability and make key information stand out. However, use them sparingly and only when appropriate.

Q: Should I include visuals in my report?

Yes, incorporating relevant visuals like graphs, charts, and images can make complex data easier to understand.

Q: Can I include my opinion in the report?

While reports should be objective and fact-based, there might be instances where your expert opinion is valuable. If so, clearly distinguish between facts and opinions.

Q: How can I make my executive summary compelling?

The executive summary should be concise yet informative. Highlight the most important findings and recommendations to pique the reader’s interest.

Q: Is it necessary to follow a specific report writing style?

Different organizations or fields may have their preferred report writing style. Always follow the guidelines provided by your institution or industry standards.

Q: What is the main purpose of a report?

A: The main purpose of a report is to present information, findings, and recommendations in a structured and organized manner.

A: Yes, bullet points can help present information concisely and improve readability.

Q: How long should an executive summary be?

A: An executive summary should be concise, typically ranging from one to two pages.

Q: Is it necessary to include visuals in a report?

A: Including visuals such as charts, graphs, and images can enhance the reader’s understanding of complex data.

Q: What are some common mistakes to avoid in report writing?

A: Common mistakes to avoid include using overly technical language, neglecting to cite sources properly, and lacking a clear structure.

Q: How can I make my report more engaging?

A: To make your report engaging, use real-life examples, incorporate visuals, and use a conversational tone when appropriate.

Oxford Brookes University

Report writing

Reports are informative writing that present the results of an experiment or investigation to a specific audience in a structured way. Reports are broken up into sections using headings, and can often include diagrams, pictures, and bullet-point lists. They are used widely in science, social science, and business contexts. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Difference between reports and essays

Essays and reports are both common types of university assignments. Whilst an essay is usually a continuous piece of writing, a report is divided into sections. See this overview for more on the differences between reports and essays:

Features of reports (University of Reading)

Reports have an expected structure with set sections so information is easy to find. Science reports may have methods and results sections, but business reports may only have a discussion and recommendations section. Always check what type of structure is needed for each report assignment as they may change. See this overview of different types of report structures:

Sample report structures (RMIT University)

Finding your own headings

Sometimes you are given the choice of how to name your sub-headings and structure the main body of your report. This is common in business where the structure has to fit the needs of the information and the client. See this short video on how to find meaningful sub-headings:

Finding your own report structure [video] (University of Reading)

Purpose of each section

Each section of a report has a different role to play and contains different types of information. See this brief overview of what goes where and how to number the sections:

What goes into each section (University of Hull)

Writing style

As well as having a different purpose, each report section is written in a different way and they don’t have to be written in order. See these guides on the style and order for writing a report and on the features of scientific writing:

Writing up your report (University of Reading)

Scientific writing (University of Leeds)

Tables and figures

Reports commonly use graphs and tables to show data more effectively. Always ensure any visual information in your report has a purpose and is referred to in the text. See this introductory guide to presenting data:

Using figures and charts (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Further resources

If you’d like to read more about the structure and style of reports, see this resource and book list created by Brookes Library:

Writing essays, reports and other assignments reading list

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MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Resources for Teachers: Creating Writing Assignments

This page contains four specific areas:

Creating Effective Assignments

Checking the assignment, sequencing writing assignments, selecting an effective writing assignment format.

Research has shown that the more detailed a writing assignment is, the better the student papers are in response to that assignment. Instructors can often help students write more effective papers by giving students written instructions about that assignment. Explicit descriptions of assignments on the syllabus or on an “assignment sheet” tend to produce the best results. These instructions might make explicit the process or steps necessary to complete the assignment. Assignment sheets should detail:

  • the kind of writing expected
  • the scope of acceptable subject matter
  • the length requirements
  • formatting requirements
  • documentation format
  • the amount and type of research expected (if any)
  • the writer’s role
  • deadlines for the first draft and its revision

Providing questions or needed data in the assignment helps students get started. For instance, some questions can suggest a mode of organization to the students. Other questions might suggest a procedure to follow. The questions posed should require that students assert a thesis.

The following areas should help you create effective writing assignments.

Examining your goals for the assignment

  • How exactly does this assignment fit with the objectives of your course?
  • Should this assignment relate only to the class and the texts for the class, or should it also relate to the world beyond the classroom?
  • What do you want the students to learn or experience from this writing assignment?
  • Should this assignment be an individual or a collaborative effort?
  • What do you want students to show you in this assignment? To demonstrate mastery of concepts or texts? To demonstrate logical and critical thinking? To develop an original idea? To learn and demonstrate the procedures, practices, and tools of your field of study?

Defining the writing task

  • Is the assignment sequenced so that students: (1) write a draft, (2) receive feedback (from you, fellow students, or staff members at the Writing and Communication Center), and (3) then revise it? Such a procedure has been proven to accomplish at least two goals: it improves the student’s writing and it discourages plagiarism.
  • Does the assignment include so many sub-questions that students will be confused about the major issue they should examine? Can you give more guidance about what the paper’s main focus should be? Can you reduce the number of sub-questions?
  • What is the purpose of the assignment (e.g., review knowledge already learned, find additional information, synthesize research, examine a new hypothesis)? Making the purpose(s) of the assignment explicit helps students write the kind of paper you want.
  • What is the required form (e.g., expository essay, lab report, memo, business report)?
  • What mode is required for the assignment (e.g., description, narration, analysis, persuasion, a combination of two or more of these)?

Defining the audience for the paper

  • Can you define a hypothetical audience to help students determine which concepts to define and explain? When students write only to the instructor, they may assume that little, if anything, requires explanation. Defining the whole class as the intended audience will clarify this issue for students.
  • What is the probable attitude of the intended readers toward the topic itself? Toward the student writer’s thesis? Toward the student writer?
  • What is the probable educational and economic background of the intended readers?

Defining the writer’s role

  • Can you make explicit what persona you wish the students to assume? For example, a very effective role for student writers is that of a “professional in training” who uses the assumptions, the perspective, and the conceptual tools of the discipline.

Defining your evaluative criteria

1. If possible, explain the relative weight in grading assigned to the quality of writing and the assignment’s content:

  • depth of coverage
  • organization
  • critical thinking
  • original thinking
  • use of research
  • logical demonstration
  • appropriate mode of structure and analysis (e.g., comparison, argument)
  • correct use of sources
  • grammar and mechanics
  • professional tone
  • correct use of course-specific concepts and terms.

Here’s a checklist for writing assignments:

  • Have you used explicit command words in your instructions (e.g., “compare and contrast” and “explain” are more explicit than “explore” or “consider”)? The more explicit the command words, the better chance the students will write the type of paper you wish.
  • Does the assignment suggest a topic, thesis, and format? Should it?
  • Have you told students the kind of audience they are addressing — the level of knowledge they can assume the readers have and your particular preferences (e.g., “avoid slang, use the first-person sparingly”)?
  • If the assignment has several stages of completion, have you made the various deadlines clear? Is your policy on due dates clear?
  • Have you presented the assignment in a manageable form? For instance, a 5-page assignment sheet for a 1-page paper may overwhelm students. Similarly, a 1-sentence assignment for a 25-page paper may offer insufficient guidance.

There are several benefits of sequencing writing assignments:

  • Sequencing provides a sense of coherence for the course.
  • This approach helps students see progress and purpose in their work rather than seeing the writing assignments as separate exercises.
  • It encourages complexity through sustained attention, revision, and consideration of multiple perspectives.
  • If you have only one large paper due near the end of the course, you might create a sequence of smaller assignments leading up to and providing a foundation for that larger paper (e.g., proposal of the topic, an annotated bibliography, a progress report, a summary of the paper’s key argument, a first draft of the paper itself). This approach allows you to give students guidance and also discourages plagiarism.
  • It mirrors the approach to written work in many professions.

The concept of sequencing writing assignments also allows for a wide range of options in creating the assignment. It is often beneficial to have students submit the components suggested below to your course’s STELLAR web site.

Use the writing process itself. In its simplest form, “sequencing an assignment” can mean establishing some sort of “official” check of the prewriting and drafting steps in the writing process. This step guarantees that students will not write the whole paper in one sitting and also gives students more time to let their ideas develop. This check might be something as informal as having students work on their prewriting or draft for a few minutes at the end of class. Or it might be something more formal such as collecting the prewriting and giving a few suggestions and comments.

Have students submit drafts. You might ask students to submit a first draft in order to receive your quick responses to its content, or have them submit written questions about the content and scope of their projects after they have completed their first draft.

Establish small groups. Set up small writing groups of three-five students from the class. Allow them to meet for a few minutes in class or have them arrange a meeting outside of class to comment constructively on each other’s drafts. The students do not need to be writing on the same topic.

Require consultations. Have students consult with someone in the Writing and Communication Center about their prewriting and/or drafts. The Center has yellow forms that we can give to students to inform you that such a visit was made.

Explore a subject in increasingly complex ways. A series of reading and writing assignments may be linked by the same subject matter or topic. Students encounter new perspectives and competing ideas with each new reading, and thus must evaluate and balance various views and adopt a position that considers the various points of view.

Change modes of discourse. In this approach, students’ assignments move from less complex to more complex modes of discourse (e.g., from expressive to analytic to argumentative; or from lab report to position paper to research article).

Change audiences. In this approach, students create drafts for different audiences, moving from personal to public (e.g., from self-reflection to an audience of peers to an audience of specialists). Each change would require different tasks and more extensive knowledge.

Change perspective through time. In this approach, students might write a statement of their understanding of a subject or issue at the beginning of a course and then return at the end of the semester to write an analysis of that original stance in the light of the experiences and knowledge gained in the course.

Use a natural sequence. A different approach to sequencing is to create a series of assignments culminating in a final writing project. In scientific and technical writing, for example, students could write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic. The next assignment might be a progress report (or a series of progress reports), and the final assignment could be the report or document itself. For humanities and social science courses, students might write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic, then hand in an annotated bibliography, and then a draft, and then the final version of the paper.

Have students submit sections. A variation of the previous approach is to have students submit various sections of their final document throughout the semester (e.g., their bibliography, review of the literature, methods section).

In addition to the standard essay and report formats, several other formats exist that might give students a different slant on the course material or allow them to use slightly different writing skills. Here are some suggestions:

Journals. Journals have become a popular format in recent years for courses that require some writing. In-class journal entries can spark discussions and reveal gaps in students’ understanding of the material. Having students write an in-class entry summarizing the material covered that day can aid the learning process and also reveal concepts that require more elaboration. Out-of-class entries involve short summaries or analyses of texts, or are a testing ground for ideas for student papers and reports. Although journals may seem to add a huge burden for instructors to correct, in fact many instructors either spot-check journals (looking at a few particular key entries) or grade them based on the number of entries completed. Journals are usually not graded for their prose style. STELLAR forums work well for out-of-class entries.

Letters. Students can define and defend a position on an issue in a letter written to someone in authority. They can also explain a concept or a process to someone in need of that particular information. They can write a letter to a friend explaining their concerns about an upcoming paper assignment or explaining their ideas for an upcoming paper assignment. If you wish to add a creative element to the writing assignment, you might have students adopt the persona of an important person discussed in your course (e.g., an historical figure) and write a letter explaining his/her actions, process, or theory to an interested person (e.g., “pretend that you are John Wilkes Booth and write a letter to the Congress justifying your assassination of Abraham Lincoln,” or “pretend you are Henry VIII writing to Thomas More explaining your break from the Catholic Church”).

Editorials . Students can define and defend a position on a controversial issue in the format of an editorial for the campus or local newspaper or for a national journal.

Cases . Students might create a case study particular to the course’s subject matter.

Position Papers . Students can define and defend a position, perhaps as a preliminary step in the creation of a formal research paper or essay.

Imitation of a Text . Students can create a new document “in the style of” a particular writer (e.g., “Create a government document the way Woody Allen might write it” or “Write your own ‘Modest Proposal’ about a modern issue”).

Instruction Manuals . Students write a step-by-step explanation of a process.

Dialogues . Students create a dialogue between two major figures studied in which they not only reveal those people’s theories or thoughts but also explore areas of possible disagreement (e.g., “Write a dialogue between Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock about the nature and uses of art”).

Collaborative projects . Students work together to create such works as reports, questions, and critiques.

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Writing your assignment

The Writing your assignment resource is designed and monitored by Learning Advisers and Academic Librarians at UniSA.

The purpose of a report is to investigate an issue and 'report back' findings which allow people to make decisions or take action and depending on your course.  The report may require you to record, to inform, to instruct, to analyse, to persuade, or to make specific recommendations, so it is important to check your task instructions and identify the approach you are required to take.  Your completed report should consist of clear sections which are labelled with headings and sub-headings, and are logically sequenced, well developed and supported with reliable evidence . In this section you will learn more about writing a report, including process, structure and language use.  The report writing checklist at the end of this section can help you finalise your report.

  • The main purpose of a report is usually to investigate an issue and report back with suggestions or recommendations to allow people to make decisions or take action.
  • You will need to find information on the issue by reading through course materials and doing further research via the UniSA Library and relevant databases.
  • Report writing requires you to plan and think, so give yourself enough time to draft and redraft, and search for more information before you complete the final version.
  • The report is typically structured with an introduction, body paragraphs, a conclusion and a reference list.
  • It usually has headings and subheadings to organise the information and help the reader understand  the issue being investigated, the analysis of the findings and the recommendations or implications that relate directly to those findings.
  • A report can also include dot points or visuals such as graphs, tables or images to effectively present information.
  • Always check the task instructions and feedback form as there might very specific requirements for the report structure.

Locate the task instructions in your course outline and/or on your course site, and use this activity to plan your approach.

  • Reports overview  (pdf)
  • Using headings in your writing  (pdf)
  • Abstracts and introductions  (pdf)
  • Writing introductions  (pdf)
  • Writing paragraphs  (pdf)
  • Literature reviews (pdf)
  • Writing conclusions  (pdf) 
  • Constructing graphs, tables and diagrams  (pdf)
  • Psychology example report  (pdf)
  • More example reports  (link)

Click through the slides below to learn about the key characteristics of academic writing. 

  • Academic vocabulary and phrases  (pdf)
  • Expressing yourself clearly and concisely  (pdf)
  • Tentative language  (pdf)
  • Writing objectively  (pdf)
  • Academic phrasebank  - Courtesy: Uni of Manchester (link)

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

The purpose of a field report in the social sciences is to describe the deliberate observation of people, places, and/or events and to analyze what has been observed in order to identify and categorize common themes in relation to the research problem underpinning the study. The content represents the researcher's interpretation of meaning found in data that has been gathered during one or more observational events.

Flick, Uwe. The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Collection . London: SAGE Publications, 2018; Lofland, John, David Snow, Leon Anderson, and Lyn H. Lofland. Analyzing Social Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation and Analysis. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2022; Baker, Lynda. "Observation: A Complex Research Method." Library Trends 55 (Summer 2006): 171-189.; Kellehear, Allan. The Unobtrusive Researcher: A Guide to Methods . New York: Routledge, 2020.

How to Approach Writing a Field Report

How to Begin

Field reports are most often assigned in disciplines of the applied social sciences [e.g., social work, anthropology, gerontology, criminal justice, education, law, the health care services] where it is important to build a bridge of relevancy between the theoretical concepts learned in the classroom and the practice of actually doing the work you are being taught to do. Field reports are also common in certain science disciplines [e.g., geology] but these reports are organized differently and serve a different purpose than what is described below.

Professors will assign a field report with the intention of improving your understanding of key theoretical concepts by applying methods of careful and structured observation of, and reflection about, people, places, or phenomena existing in their natural settings. Field reports facilitate the development of data collection techniques and observation skills and they help you to understand how theory applies to real world situations. Field reports are also an opportunity to obtain evidence through methods of observing professional practice that contribute to or challenge existing theories.

We are all observers of people, their interactions, places, and events; however, your responsibility when writing a field report is to conduct research based on data generated by the act of designing a specific study, deliberate observation, synthesis of key findings, and interpretation of their meaning.

When writing a field report you need to:

  • Systematically observe and accurately record the varying aspects of a situation . Always approach your field study with a detailed protocol about what you will observe, where you should conduct your observations, and the method by which you will collect and record your data.
  • Continuously analyze your observations . Always look for the meaning underlying the actions you observe. Ask yourself: What's going on here? What does this observed activity mean? What else does this relate to? Note that this is an on-going process of reflection and analysis taking place for the duration of your field research.
  • Keep the report’s aims in mind while you are observing . Recording what you observe should not be done randomly or haphazardly; you must be focused and pay attention to details. Enter the observation site [i.e., "field"] with a clear plan about what you are intending to observe and record in relation to the research problem while, at the same time, being prepared to adapt to changing circumstances as they may arise.
  • Consciously observe, record, and analyze what you hear and see in the context of a theoretical framework . This is what separates data gatherings from reporting. The theoretical framework guiding your field research should determine what, when, and how you observe and act as the foundation from which you interpret your findings in relation to the underlying assumptions embedded in the theoretical framework .

Techniques to Record Your Observations Although there is no limit to the type of data gathering techniques you can use, these are the most frequently used methods:

Note Taking This is the most common and easiest method of recording your observations. Tips for taking notes include: organizing some shorthand symbols beforehand so that recording basic or repeated actions does not impede your ability to observe, using many small paragraphs, which reflect changes in activities, who is talking, etc., and, leaving space on the page so you can write down additional thoughts and ideas about what’s being observed, any theoretical insights, and notes to yourself that are set aside for further investigation. See drop-down tab for additional information about note-taking.

Photography With the advent of smart phones, an almost unlimited number of high quality photographs can be taken of the objects, events, and people observed during a field study. Photographs can help capture an important moment in time as well as document details about the space where your observation takes place. Taking a photograph can save you time in documenting the details of a space that would otherwise require extensive note taking. However, be aware that flash photography could undermine your ability to observe unobtrusively so assess the lighting in your observation space; if it's too dark, you may need to rely on taking notes. Also, you should reject the idea that photographs represent some sort of "window into the world" because this assumption creates the risk of over-interpreting what they show. As with any product of data gathering, you are the sole instrument of interpretation and meaning-making, not the object itself. Video and Audio Recordings Video or audio recording your observations has the positive effect of giving you an unfiltered record of the observation event. It also facilitates repeated analysis of your observations. This can be particularly helpful as you gather additional information or insights during your research. However, these techniques have the negative effect of increasing how intrusive you are as an observer and will often not be practical or even allowed under certain circumstances [e.g., interaction between a doctor and a patient] and in certain organizational settings [e.g., a courtroom]. Illustrations/Drawings This does not refer to an artistic endeavor but, rather, refers to the possible need, for example, to draw a map of the observation setting or illustrating objects in relation to people's behavior. This can also take the form of rough tables, charts, or graphs documenting the frequency and type of activities observed. These can be subsequently placed in a more readable format when you write your field report. To save time, draft a table [i.e., columns and rows] on a separate piece of paper before an observation if you know you will be entering data in that way.

NOTE:   You may consider using a laptop or other electronic device to record your notes as you observe, but keep in mind the possibility that the clicking of keys while you type or noises from your device can be obtrusive, whereas writing your notes on paper is relatively quiet and unobtrusive. Always assess your presence in the setting where you're gathering the data so as to minimize your impact on the subject or phenomenon being studied.

ANOTHER NOTE:   Techniques of deliberate observation and data gathering are not innate skills; they are skills that must be learned and practiced in order to achieve proficiency. Before your first observation, practice the technique you plan to use in a setting similar to your study site [e.g., take notes about how people choose to enter checkout lines at a grocery store if your research involves examining the choice patterns of unrelated people forced to queue in busy social settings]. When the act of data gathering counts, you'll be glad you practiced beforehand.

YET ANOTHER NOTE:   An issue rarely discussed in the literature about conducting field research is whether you should move around the study site while observing or remaining situated in one place. Moving around can be intrusive, but it facilitates observing people's behavior from multiple vectors. However, if you remain in one place throughout the observation [or during each observation], you will eventually blend into the background and diminish the chance of unintentionally influencing people's behavior. If the site has a complex set of interactions or interdependent activities [e.g., a play ground], consider moving around; if the study site is relatively fixed [e.g., a classroom], then consider staying in one place while observing.

Examples of Things to Document While Observing

  • Physical setting . The characteristics of an occupied space and the human use of the place where the observation(s) are being conducted.
  • Objects and material culture . This refers to the presence, placement, and arrangement of objects that impact the behavior or actions of those being observed. If applicable, describe the cultural artifacts representing the beliefs [i.e., the values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions] of the individuals you are observing [e.g., the choice of particular types of clothing in the observation of family gatherings during culturally specific holidays].
  • Use of language . Don't just observe but  listen to what is being said, how is it being said, and the tone of conversations among participants.
  • Behavior cycles . This refers to documenting when and who performs what behavior or task and how often they occur. Record at which stage this behavior is occurring within the setting.
  • The order in which events unfold . Note sequential patterns of behavior or the moment when actions or events take place and their significance. Also, be prepared to note moments that diverge from these sequential patterns of behavior or actions.
  • Physical characteristics of subjects. If relevant, document personal characteristics of individuals being observed. Note that, unless this data can be verified in interviews or from documentary evidence, you should only focus on characteristics that can be clearly observed [e.g., clothing, physical appearance, body language].
  • Expressive body movements . This would include things like body posture or facial expressions. Note that it may be relevant to also assess whether expressive body movements support or contradict the language used in conversation [e.g., detecting sarcasm].

Brief notes about all of these examples contextualize your observations; however, your observation notes will be guided primarily by your theoretical framework, keeping in mind that your observations will feed into and potentially modify or alter these frameworks.

Sampling Techniques

Sampling refers to the process used to select a portion of the population for study . Qualitative research, of which observation is one method of data gathering, is generally based on non-probability and purposive sampling rather than probability or random approaches characteristic of quantitatively-driven studies. Sampling in observational research is flexible and often continues until no new themes emerge from the data, a point referred to as data saturation.

All sampling decisions are made for the explicit purpose of obtaining the richest possible source of information to answer the research questions. Decisions about sampling assumes you know what you want to observe, what behaviors are important to record, and what research problem you are addressing before you begin the study. These questions determine what sampling technique you should use, so be sure you have adequately answered them before selecting a sampling method.

Ways to sample when conducting an observation include:

  • Ad Libitum Sampling -- this approach is not that different from what people do at the zoo; they observe whatever seems interesting at the moment. There is no organized system of recording the observations; you just note whatever seems relevant at the time. The advantage of this method is that you are often able to observe relatively rare or unusual behaviors that might be missed by more deliberately designed sampling methods. This method is also useful for obtaining preliminary observations that can be used to develop your final field study. Problems using this method include the possibility of inherent bias toward conspicuous behaviors or individuals, thereby missing mundane or repeated patterns of behavior, and that you may miss brief interactions in social settings.
  • Behavior Sampling -- this involves watching the entire group of subjects and recording each occurrence of a specific behavior of interest and with reference to which individuals were involved. The method is useful in recording rare behaviors missed by other sampling methods and is often used in conjunction with focal or scan methods [see below]. However, sampling can be biased towards particular conspicuous behaviors.
  • Continuous Recording -- provides a faithful record of behavior including frequencies, durations, and latencies [the time that elapses between a stimulus and the response to it]. This is a very demanding method because you are trying to record everything within the setting and, thus, measuring reliability may be sacrificed. In addition, durations and latencies are only reliable if subjects remain present throughout the collection of data. However, this method facilitates analyzing sequences of behaviors and ensures obtaining a wealth of data about the observation site and the people within it. The use of audio or video recording is most useful with this type of sampling.
  • Focal Sampling -- this involves observing one individual for a specified amount of time and recording all instances of that individual's behavior. Usually you have a set of predetermined categories or types of behaviors that you are interested in observing [e.g., when a teacher walks around the classroom] and you keep track of the duration of those behaviors. This approach doesn't tend to bias one behavior over another and provides significant detail about a individual's behavior. However, with this method, you likely have to conduct a lot of focal samples before you have a good idea about how group members interact. It can also be difficult within certain settings to keep one individual in sight for the entire period of the observation without being intrusive.
  • Instantaneous Sampling -- this is where observation sessions are divided into short intervals divided by sample points. At each sample point the observer records if predetermined behaviors of interest are taking place. This method is not effective for recording discrete events of short duration and, frequently, observers will want to record novel behaviors that occur slightly before or after the point of sampling, creating a sampling error. Though not exact, this method does give you an idea of durations and is relatively easy to do. It is also good for recording behavior patterns occurring at a specific instant, such as, movement or body positions.
  • One-Zero Sampling -- this is very similar to instantaneous sampling, only the observer records if the behaviors of interest have occurred at any time during an interval instead of at the instant of the sampling point. The method is useful for capturing data on behavior patterns that start and stop repeatedly and rapidly, but that last only for a brief period of time. The disadvantage of this approach is that you get a dimensionless score for an entire recording session, so you only get one one data point for each recording session.
  • Scan Sampling -- this method involves taking a census of the entire observed group at predetermined time periods and recording what each individual is doing at that moment. This is useful for obtaining group behavioral data and allows for data that are evenly representative across individuals and periods of time. On the other hand, this method may be biased towards more conspicuous behaviors and you may miss a lot of what is going on between observations, especially rare or unusual behaviors. It is also difficult to record more than a few individuals in a group setting without missing what each individual is doing at each predetermined moment in time [e.g., children sitting at a table during lunch at school]. The use of audio or video recording is useful with this type of sampling.

Alderks, Peter. Data Collection. Psychology 330 Course Documents. Animal Behavior Lab. University of Washington; Emerson, Robert M. Contemporary Field Research: Perspectives and Formulations . 2nd ed. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 2001; Emerson, Robert M. et al. “Participant Observation and Fieldnotes.” In Handbook of Ethnography . Paul Atkinson et al., eds. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), 352-368; Emerson, Robert M. et al. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes . 2nd ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011; Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Hazel, Spencer. "The Paradox from Within: Research Participants Doing-Being-Observed." Qualitative Research 16 (August 2016): 446-457; Pace, Tonio. Writing Field Reports. Scribd Online Library; Presser, Jon and Dona Schwartz. “Photographs within the Sociological Research Process.” In Image-based Research: A Sourcebook for Qualitative Researchers . Jon Prosser, editor (London: Falmer Press, 1998), pp. 115-130; Pyrczak, Fred and Randall R. Bruce. Writing Empirical Research Reports: A Basic Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences . 5th ed. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing, 2005; Report Writing. UniLearning. University of Wollongong, Australia; Wolfinger, Nicholas H. "On Writing Fieldnotes: Collection Strategies and Background Expectancies.” Qualitative Research 2 (April 2002): 85-95; Writing Reports. Anonymous. The Higher Education Academy.

Structure and Writing Style

How you choose to format your field report is determined by the research problem, the theoretical framework that is driving your analysis, the observations that you make, and/or specific guidelines established by your professor. Since field reports do not have a standard format, it is worthwhile to determine from your professor what the preferred structure and organization should be before you begin to write. Note that field reports should be written in the past tense. With this in mind, most field reports in the social sciences include the following elements:

I.  Introduction The introduction should describe the research problem, the specific objectives of your research, and the important theories or concepts underpinning your field study. The introduction should describe the nature of the organization or setting where you are conducting the observation, what type of observations you have conducted, what your focus was, when you observed, and the methods you used for collecting the data. Collectively, this descriptive information should support reasons why you chose the observation site and the people or events within it. You should also include a review of pertinent literature related to the research problem, particularly if similar methods were used in prior studies. Conclude your introduction with a statement about how the rest of the paper is organized.

II.  Description of Activities

Your readers only knowledge and understanding of what happened will come from the description section of your report because they were not witnesses to the situation, people, or events that you are writing about. Given this, it is crucial that you provide sufficient details to place the analysis that will follow into proper context; don't make the mistake of providing a description without context. The description section of a field report is similar to a well written piece of journalism. Therefore, a useful approach to systematically describing the varying aspects of an observed situation is to answer the "Five W’s of Investigative Reporting." As Dubbels notes [p. 19], these are:

  • What -- describe what you observed. Note the temporal, physical, and social boundaries you imposed to limit the observations you made. What were your general impressions of the situation you were observing. For example, as a student teacher, what is your impression of the application of iPads as a learning device in a history class; as a cultural anthropologist, what is your impression of women's participation in a Native American religious ritual?
  • Where -- provide background information about the setting of your observation and, if necessary, note important material objects that are present that help contextualize the observation [e.g., arrangement of computers in relation to student engagement with the teacher].
  • When -- record factual data about the day and the beginning and ending time of each observation. Note that it may also be necessary to include background information or key events which impact upon the situation you were observing [e.g., observing the ability of teachers to re-engage students after coming back from an unannounced fire drill].
  • Who -- note background and demographic information about the individuals being observed e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, and/or any other variables relevant to your study]. Record who is doing what and saying what, as well as, who is not doing or saying what. If relevant, be sure to record who was missing from the observation.
  • Why -- why were you doing this? Describe the reasons for selecting particular situations to observe. Note why something happened. Also note why you may have included or excluded certain information.

III.  Interpretation and Analysis

Always place the analysis and interpretations of your field observations within the larger context of the theoretical assumptions and issues you described in the introduction. Part of your responsibility in analyzing the data is to determine which observations are worthy of comment and interpretation, and which observations are more general in nature. It is your theoretical framework that allows you to make these decisions. You need to demonstrate to the reader that you are conducting the field work through the eyes of an informed viewer and from the perspective of a casual observer.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when analyzing your observations:

  • What is the meaning of what you have observed?
  • Why do you think what you observed happened? What evidence do you have for your reasoning?
  • What events or behaviors were typical or widespread? If appropriate, what was unusual or out of the ordinary? How were they distributed among categories of people?
  • Do you see any connections or patterns in what you observed?
  • Why did the people you observed proceed with an action in the way that they did? What are the implications of this?
  • Did the stated or implicit objectives of what you were observing match what was achieved?
  • What were the relative merits of the behaviors you observed?
  • What were the strengths and weaknesses of the observations you recorded?
  • Do you see connections between what you observed and the findings of similar studies identified from your review of the literature?
  • How do your observations fit into the larger context of professional practice? In what ways have your observations possibly changed or affirmed your perceptions of professional practice?
  • Have you learned anything from what you observed?

NOTE:   Only base your interpretations on what you have actually observed. Do not speculate or manipulate your observational data to fit into your study's theoretical framework.

IV.  Conclusion and Recommendations

The conclusion should briefly recap of the entire study, reiterating the importance or significance of your observations. Avoid including any new information. You should also state any recommendations you may have based on the results of your study. Be sure to describe any unanticipated problems you encountered and note the limitations of your study. The conclusion should not be more than two or three paragraphs.

V.  Appendix

This is where you would place information that is not essential to explaining your findings, but that supports your analysis [especially repetitive or lengthy information], that validates your conclusions, or that contextualizes a related point that helps the reader understand the overall report. Examples of information that could be included in an appendix are figures/tables/charts/graphs of results, statistics, pictures, maps, drawings, or, if applicable, transcripts of interviews. There is no limit to what can be included in the appendix or its format [e.g., a DVD recording of the observation site], provided that it is relevant to the study's purpose and reference is made to it in the report. If information is placed in more than one appendix ["appendices"], the order in which they are organized is dictated by the order they were first mentioned in the text of the report.

VI.  References

List all sources that you consulted and obtained information from while writing your field report. Note that field reports generally do not include further readings or an extended bibliography. However, consult with your professor concerning what your list of sources should be included and be sure to write them in the preferred citation style of your discipline or is preferred by your professor [i.e., APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.].

Alderks, Peter. Data Collection. Psychology 330 Course Documents. Animal Behavior Lab. University of Washington; Dubbels, Brock R. Exploring the Cognitive, Social, Cultural, and Psychological Aspects of Gaming and Simulations . Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2018; Emerson, Robert M. Contemporary Field Research: Perspectives and Formulations . 2nd ed. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 2001; Emerson, Robert M. et al. “Participant Observation and Fieldnotes.” In Handbook of Ethnography . Paul Atkinson et al., eds. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), 352-368; Emerson, Robert M. et al. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes . 2nd ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011; Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Pace, Tonio. Writing Field Reports. Scribd Online Library; Pyrczak, Fred and Randall R. Bruce. Writing Empirical Research Reports: A Basic Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences . 5th ed. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing, 2005; Report Writing. UniLearning. University of Wollongong, Australia; Wolfinger, Nicholas H. "On Writing Fieldnotes: Collection Strategies and Background Expectancies.” Qualitative Research 2 (April 2002): 85-95; Writing Reports. Anonymous. The Higher Education Academy.

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Report writing

What is a report and how does it differ from writing an essay? Reports are concise and have a formal structure. They are often used to communicate the results or findings of a project.

Essays by contrast are often used to show a tutor what you think about a topic. They are discursive and the structure can be left to the discretion of the writer.

Who and what is the report for?

Before you write a report, you need to be clear about who you are writing the report for and why the report has been commissioned.

Keep the audience in mind as you write your report, think about what they need to know. For example, the report could be for:

  • the general public
  • academic staff
  • senior management
  • a customer/client.

Reports are usually assessed on content, structure, layout, language, and referencing. You should consider the focus of your report, for example:

  • Are you reporting on an experiment?
  • Is the purpose to provide background information?
  • Should you be making recommendations for action?

Language of report writing

Reports use clear and concise language, which can differ considerably from essay writing.

They are often broken down in to sections, which each have their own headings and sub-headings. These sections may include bullet points or numbering as well as more structured sentences. Paragraphs are usually shorter in a report than in an essay.

Both essays and reports are examples of academic writing. You are expected to use grammatically correct sentence structure, vocabulary and punctuation.

Academic writing is formal so you should avoid using apostrophes and contractions such as “it’s” and "couldn't". Instead, use “it is” and “could not”.

Structure and organisation

Reports are much more structured than essays. They are divided in to sections and sub-sections that are formatted using bullet points or numbering.

Report structures do vary among disciplines, but the most common structures include the following:

The title page needs to be informative and descriptive, concisely stating the topic of the report.

Abstract (or Executive Summary in business reports)

The abstract is a brief summary of the context, methods, findings and conclusions of the report. It is intended to give the reader an overview of the report before they continue reading, so it is a good idea to write this section last.

An executive summary should outline the key problem and objectives, and then cover the main findings and key recommendations.

Table of contents

Readers will use this table of contents to identify which sections are most relevant to them. You must make sure your contents page correctly represents the structure of your report.

Take a look at this sample contents page.

Introduction

In your introduction you should include information about the background to your research, and what its aims and objectives are. You can also refer to the literature in this section; reporting what is already known about your question/topic, and if there are any gaps. Some reports are also expected to include a section called ‘Terms of references’, where you identify who asked for the report, what is covers, and what its limitations are.

Methodology

If your report involved research activity, you should state what that was, for example you may have interviewed clients, organised some focus groups, or done a literature review. The methodology section should provide an accurate description of the material and procedures used so that others could replicate the experiment you conducted.

Results/findings

The results/findings section should be an objective summary of your findings, which can use tables, graphs, or figures to describe the most important results and trends. You do not need to attempt to provide reasons for your results (this will happen in the discussion section).

In the discussion you are expected to critically evaluate your findings. You may need to re-state what your report was aiming to prove and whether this has been achieved. You should also assess the accuracy and significance of your findings, and show how it fits in the context of previous research.

Conclusion/recommendations

Your conclusion should summarise the outcomes of your report and make suggestions for further research or action to be taken. You may also need to include a list of specific recommendations as a result of your study.

The references are a list of any sources you have used in your report. Your report should use the standard referencing style preferred by your school or department eg Harvard, Numeric, OSCOLA etc.

You should use appendices to expand on points referred to in the main body of the report. If you only have one item it is an appendix, if you have more than one they are called appendices. You can use appendices to provide backup information, usually data or statistics, but it is important that the information contained is directly relevant to the content of the report.

Appendices can be given alphabetical or numerical headings, for example Appendix A, or Appendix 1. The order they appear at the back of your report is determined by the order that they are mentioned in the body of your report. You should refer to your appendices within the text of your report, for example ‘see Appendix B for a breakdown of the questionnaire results’. Don’t forget to list the appendices in your contents page.

Presentation and layout

Reports are written in several sections and may also include visual data such as figures and tables. The layout and presentation is therefore very important.

Your tutor or your module handbook will state how the report should be presented in terms of font sizes, margins, text alignment etc.

You will need good IT skills to manipulate graphical data and work with columns and tables. If you need to improve these skills, try the following online resources:

  • Microsoft online training through Linkedin Learning
  • Engage web resource on using tables and figures in reports

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding Assignments

What this handout is about.

The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our short video for more tips.

Basic beginnings

Regardless of the assignment, department, or instructor, adopting these two habits will serve you well :

  • Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Do not put this task off—reading the assignment at the beginning will save you time, stress, and problems later. An assignment can look pretty straightforward at first, particularly if the instructor has provided lots of information. That does not mean it will not take time and effort to complete; you may even have to learn a new skill to complete the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor about anything you do not understand. Do not hesitate to approach your instructor. Instructors would prefer to set you straight before you hand the paper in. That’s also when you will find their feedback most useful.

Assignment formats

Many assignments follow a basic format. Assignments often begin with an overview of the topic, include a central verb or verbs that describe the task, and offer some additional suggestions, questions, or prompts to get you started.

An Overview of Some Kind

The instructor might set the stage with some general discussion of the subject of the assignment, introduce the topic, or remind you of something pertinent that you have discussed in class. For example:

“Throughout history, gerbils have played a key role in politics,” or “In the last few weeks of class, we have focused on the evening wear of the housefly …”

The Task of the Assignment

Pay attention; this part tells you what to do when you write the paper. Look for the key verb or verbs in the sentence. Words like analyze, summarize, or compare direct you to think about your topic in a certain way. Also pay attention to words such as how, what, when, where, and why; these words guide your attention toward specific information. (See the section in this handout titled “Key Terms” for more information.)

“Analyze the effect that gerbils had on the Russian Revolution”, or “Suggest an interpretation of housefly undergarments that differs from Darwin’s.”

Additional Material to Think about

Here you will find some questions to use as springboards as you begin to think about the topic. Instructors usually include these questions as suggestions rather than requirements. Do not feel compelled to answer every question unless the instructor asks you to do so. Pay attention to the order of the questions. Sometimes they suggest the thinking process your instructor imagines you will need to follow to begin thinking about the topic.

“You may wish to consider the differing views held by Communist gerbils vs. Monarchist gerbils, or Can there be such a thing as ‘the housefly garment industry’ or is it just a home-based craft?”

These are the instructor’s comments about writing expectations:

“Be concise”, “Write effectively”, or “Argue furiously.”

Technical Details

These instructions usually indicate format rules or guidelines.

“Your paper must be typed in Palatino font on gray paper and must not exceed 600 pages. It is due on the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s death.”

The assignment’s parts may not appear in exactly this order, and each part may be very long or really short. Nonetheless, being aware of this standard pattern can help you understand what your instructor wants you to do.

Interpreting the assignment

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?

Who is your audience.

  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?

What kind of writing style is acceptable?

  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

Try to look at the question from the point of view of the instructor. Recognize that your instructor has a reason for giving you this assignment and for giving it to you at a particular point in the semester. In every assignment, the instructor has a challenge for you. This challenge could be anything from demonstrating an ability to think clearly to demonstrating an ability to use the library. See the assignment not as a vague suggestion of what to do but as an opportunity to show that you can handle the course material as directed. Paper assignments give you more than a topic to discuss—they ask you to do something with the topic. Keep reminding yourself of that. Be careful to avoid the other extreme as well: do not read more into the assignment than what is there.

Of course, your instructor has given you an assignment so that they will be able to assess your understanding of the course material and give you an appropriate grade. But there is more to it than that. Your instructor has tried to design a learning experience of some kind. Your instructor wants you to think about something in a particular way for a particular reason. If you read the course description at the beginning of your syllabus, review the assigned readings, and consider the assignment itself, you may begin to see the plan, purpose, or approach to the subject matter that your instructor has created for you. If you still aren’t sure of the assignment’s goals, try asking the instructor. For help with this, see our handout on getting feedback .

Given your instructor’s efforts, it helps to answer the question: What is my purpose in completing this assignment? Is it to gather research from a variety of outside sources and present a coherent picture? Is it to take material I have been learning in class and apply it to a new situation? Is it to prove a point one way or another? Key words from the assignment can help you figure this out. Look for key terms in the form of active verbs that tell you what to do.

Key Terms: Finding Those Active Verbs

Here are some common key words and definitions to help you think about assignment terms:

Information words Ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why.

  • define —give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning
  • describe —provide details about the subject by answering question words (such as who, what, when, where, how, and why); you might also give details related to the five senses (what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell)
  • explain —give reasons why or examples of how something happened
  • illustrate —give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject
  • summarize —briefly list the important ideas you learned about the subject
  • trace —outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form
  • research —gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you have found

Relation words Ask you to demonstrate how things are connected.

  • compare —show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different)
  • contrast —show how two or more things are dissimilar
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation
  • cause —show how one event or series of events made something else happen
  • relate —show or describe the connections between things

Interpretation words Ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Do not see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation.

  • assess —summarize your opinion of the subject and measure it against something
  • prove, justify —give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth
  • evaluate, respond —state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons
  • support —give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe)
  • synthesize —put two or more things together that have not been put together in class or in your readings before; do not just summarize one and then the other and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together that runs all the way through the paper
  • analyze —determine how individual parts create or relate to the whole, figure out how something works, what it might mean, or why it is important
  • argue —take a side and defend it with evidence against the other side

More Clues to Your Purpose As you read the assignment, think about what the teacher does in class:

  • What kinds of textbooks or coursepack did your instructor choose for the course—ones that provide background information, explain theories or perspectives, or argue a point of view?
  • In lecture, does your instructor ask your opinion, try to prove their point of view, or use keywords that show up again in the assignment?
  • What kinds of assignments are typical in this discipline? Social science classes often expect more research. Humanities classes thrive on interpretation and analysis.
  • How do the assignments, readings, and lectures work together in the course? Instructors spend time designing courses, sometimes even arguing with their peers about the most effective course materials. Figuring out the overall design to the course will help you understand what each assignment is meant to achieve.

Now, what about your reader? Most undergraduates think of their audience as the instructor. True, your instructor is a good person to keep in mind as you write. But for the purposes of a good paper, think of your audience as someone like your roommate: smart enough to understand a clear, logical argument, but not someone who already knows exactly what is going on in your particular paper. Remember, even if the instructor knows everything there is to know about your paper topic, they still have to read your paper and assess your understanding. In other words, teach the material to your reader.

Aiming a paper at your audience happens in two ways: you make decisions about the tone and the level of information you want to convey.

  • Tone means the “voice” of your paper. Should you be chatty, formal, or objective? Usually you will find some happy medium—you do not want to alienate your reader by sounding condescending or superior, but you do not want to, um, like, totally wig on the man, you know? Eschew ostentatious erudition: some students think the way to sound academic is to use big words. Be careful—you can sound ridiculous, especially if you use the wrong big words.
  • The level of information you use depends on who you think your audience is. If you imagine your audience as your instructor and they already know everything you have to say, you may find yourself leaving out key information that can cause your argument to be unconvincing and illogical. But you do not have to explain every single word or issue. If you are telling your roommate what happened on your favorite science fiction TV show last night, you do not say, “First a dark-haired white man of average height, wearing a suit and carrying a flashlight, walked into the room. Then a purple alien with fifteen arms and at least three eyes turned around. Then the man smiled slightly. In the background, you could hear a clock ticking. The room was fairly dark and had at least two windows that I saw.” You also do not say, “This guy found some aliens. The end.” Find some balance of useful details that support your main point.

You’ll find a much more detailed discussion of these concepts in our handout on audience .

The Grim Truth

With a few exceptions (including some lab and ethnography reports), you are probably being asked to make an argument. You must convince your audience. It is easy to forget this aim when you are researching and writing; as you become involved in your subject matter, you may become enmeshed in the details and focus on learning or simply telling the information you have found. You need to do more than just repeat what you have read. Your writing should have a point, and you should be able to say it in a sentence. Sometimes instructors call this sentence a “thesis” or a “claim.”

So, if your instructor tells you to write about some aspect of oral hygiene, you do not want to just list: “First, you brush your teeth with a soft brush and some peanut butter. Then, you floss with unwaxed, bologna-flavored string. Finally, gargle with bourbon.” Instead, you could say, “Of all the oral cleaning methods, sandblasting removes the most plaque. Therefore it should be recommended by the American Dental Association.” Or, “From an aesthetic perspective, moldy teeth can be quite charming. However, their joys are short-lived.”

Convincing the reader of your argument is the goal of academic writing. It doesn’t have to say “argument” anywhere in the assignment for you to need one. Look at the assignment and think about what kind of argument you could make about it instead of just seeing it as a checklist of information you have to present. For help with understanding the role of argument in academic writing, see our handout on argument .

What kind of evidence do you need?

There are many kinds of evidence, and what type of evidence will work for your assignment can depend on several factors–the discipline, the parameters of the assignment, and your instructor’s preference. Should you use statistics? Historical examples? Do you need to conduct your own experiment? Can you rely on personal experience? See our handout on evidence for suggestions on how to use evidence appropriately.

Make sure you are clear about this part of the assignment, because your use of evidence will be crucial in writing a successful paper. You are not just learning how to argue; you are learning how to argue with specific types of materials and ideas. Ask your instructor what counts as acceptable evidence. You can also ask a librarian for help. No matter what kind of evidence you use, be sure to cite it correctly—see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

You cannot always tell from the assignment just what sort of writing style your instructor expects. The instructor may be really laid back in class but still expect you to sound formal in writing. Or the instructor may be fairly formal in class and ask you to write a reflection paper where you need to use “I” and speak from your own experience.

Try to avoid false associations of a particular field with a style (“art historians like wacky creativity,” or “political scientists are boring and just give facts”) and look instead to the types of readings you have been given in class. No one expects you to write like Plato—just use the readings as a guide for what is standard or preferable to your instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor about the level of formality they expect.

No matter what field you are writing for or what facts you are including, if you do not write so that your reader can understand your main idea, you have wasted your time. So make clarity your main goal. For specific help with style, see our handout on style .

Technical details about the assignment

The technical information you are given in an assignment always seems like the easy part. This section can actually give you lots of little hints about approaching the task. Find out if elements such as page length and citation format (see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial ) are negotiable. Some professors do not have strong preferences as long as you are consistent and fully answer the assignment. Some professors are very specific and will deduct big points for deviations.

Usually, the page length tells you something important: The instructor thinks the size of the paper is appropriate to the assignment’s parameters. In plain English, your instructor is telling you how many pages it should take for you to answer the question as fully as you are expected to. So if an assignment is two pages long, you cannot pad your paper with examples or reword your main idea several times. Hit your one point early, defend it with the clearest example, and finish quickly. If an assignment is ten pages long, you can be more complex in your main points and examples—and if you can only produce five pages for that assignment, you need to see someone for help—as soon as possible.

Tricks that don’t work

Your instructors are not fooled when you:

  • spend more time on the cover page than the essay —graphics, cool binders, and cute titles are no replacement for a well-written paper.
  • use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing to pad the page length —these tricks are immediately obvious to the eye. Most instructors use the same word processor you do. They know what’s possible. Such tactics are especially damning when the instructor has a stack of 60 papers to grade and yours is the only one that low-flying airplane pilots could read.
  • use a paper from another class that covered “sort of similar” material . Again, the instructor has a particular task for you to fulfill in the assignment that usually relates to course material and lectures. Your other paper may not cover this material, and turning in the same paper for more than one course may constitute an Honor Code violation . Ask the instructor—it can’t hurt.
  • get all wacky and “creative” before you answer the question . Showing that you are able to think beyond the boundaries of a simple assignment can be good, but you must do what the assignment calls for first. Again, check with your instructor. A humorous tone can be refreshing for someone grading a stack of papers, but it will not get you a good grade if you have not fulfilled the task.

Critical reading of assignments leads to skills in other types of reading and writing. If you get good at figuring out what the real goals of assignments are, you are going to be better at understanding the goals of all of your classes and fields of study.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Understanding Writing Assignments

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How to Decipher the Paper Assignment

Many instructors write their assignment prompts differently. By following a few steps, you can better understand the requirements for the assignment. The best way, as always, is to ask the instructor about anything confusing.

  • Read the prompt the entire way through once. This gives you an overall view of what is going on.
  • Underline or circle the portions that you absolutely must know. This information may include due date, research (source) requirements, page length, and format (MLA, APA, CMS).
  • Underline or circle important phrases. You should know your instructor at least a little by now - what phrases do they use in class? Does he repeatedly say a specific word? If these are in the prompt, you know the instructor wants you to use them in the assignment.
  • Think about how you will address the prompt. The prompt contains clues on how to write the assignment. Your instructor will often describe the ideas they want discussed either in questions, in bullet points, or in the text of the prompt. Think about each of these sentences and number them so that you can write a paragraph or section of your essay on that portion if necessary.
  • Rank ideas in descending order, from most important to least important. Instructors may include more questions or talking points than you can cover in your assignment, so rank them in the order you think is more important. One area of the prompt may be more interesting to you than another.
  • Ask your instructor questions if you have any.

After you are finished with these steps, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the purpose of this assignment? Is my purpose to provide information without forming an argument, to construct an argument based on research, or analyze a poem and discuss its imagery?
  • Who is my audience? Is my instructor my only audience? Who else might read this? Will it be posted online? What are my readers' needs and expectations?
  • What resources do I need to begin work? Do I need to conduct literature (hermeneutic or historical) research, or do I need to review important literature on the topic and then conduct empirical research, such as a survey or an observation? How many sources are required?
  • Who - beyond my instructor - can I contact to help me if I have questions? Do you have a writing lab or student service center that offers tutorials in writing?

(Notes on prompts made in blue )

Poster or Song Analysis: Poster or Song? Poster!

Goals : To systematically consider the rhetorical choices made in either a poster or a song. She says that all the time.

Things to Consider: ah- talking points

  • how the poster addresses its audience and is affected by context I'll do this first - 1.
  • general layout, use of color, contours of light and shade, etc.
  • use of contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity C.A.R.P. They say that, too. I'll do this third - 3.
  • the point of view the viewer is invited to take, poses of figures in the poster, etc. any text that may be present
  • possible cultural ramifications or social issues that have bearing I'll cover this second - 2.
  • ethical implications
  • how the poster affects us emotionally, or what mood it evokes
  • the poster's implicit argument and its effectiveness said that was important in class, so I'll discuss this last - 4.
  • how the song addresses its audience
  • lyrics: how they rhyme, repeat, what they say
  • use of music, tempo, different instruments
  • possible cultural ramifications or social issues that have bearing
  • emotional effects
  • the implicit argument and its effectiveness

These thinking points are not a step-by-step guideline on how to write your paper; instead, they are various means through which you can approach the subject. I do expect to see at least a few of them addressed, and there are other aspects that may be pertinent to your choice that have not been included in these lists. You will want to find a central idea and base your argument around that. Additionally, you must include a copy of the poster or song that you are working with. Really important!

I will be your audience. This is a formal paper, and you should use academic conventions throughout.

Length: 4 pages Format: Typed, double-spaced, 10-12 point Times New Roman, 1 inch margins I need to remember the format stuff. I messed this up last time =(

Academic Argument Essay

5-7 pages, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1 inch margins.

Minimum of five cited sources: 3 must be from academic journals or books

  • Design Plan due: Thurs. 10/19
  • Rough Draft due: Monday 10/30
  • Final Draft due: Thurs. 11/9

Remember this! I missed the deadline last time

The design plan is simply a statement of purpose, as described on pages 40-41 of the book, and an outline. The outline may be formal, as we discussed in class, or a printout of an Open Mind project. It must be a minimum of 1 page typed information, plus 1 page outline.

This project is an expansion of your opinion editorial. While you should avoid repeating any of your exact phrases from Project 2, you may reuse some of the same ideas. Your topic should be similar. You must use research to support your position, and you must also demonstrate a fairly thorough knowledge of any opposing position(s). 2 things to do - my position and the opposite.

Your essay should begin with an introduction that encapsulates your topic and indicates 1 the general trajectory of your argument. You need to have a discernable thesis that appears early in your paper. Your conclusion should restate the thesis in different words, 2 and then draw some additional meaningful analysis out of the developments of your argument. Think of this as a "so what" factor. What are some implications for the future, relating to your topic? What does all this (what you have argued) mean for society, or for the section of it to which your argument pertains? A good conclusion moves outside the topic in the paper and deals with a larger issue.

You should spend at least one paragraph acknowledging and describing the opposing position in a manner that is respectful and honestly representative of the opposition’s 3 views. The counterargument does not need to occur in a certain area, but generally begins or ends your argument. Asserting and attempting to prove each aspect of your argument’s structure should comprise the majority of your paper. Ask yourself what your argument assumes and what must be proven in order to validate your claims. Then go step-by-step, paragraph-by-paragraph, addressing each facet of your position. Most important part!

Finally, pay attention to readability . Just because this is a research paper does not mean that it has to be boring. Use examples and allow your opinion to show through word choice and tone. Proofread before you turn in the paper. Your audience is generally the academic community and specifically me, as a representative of that community. Ok, They want this to be easy to read, to contain examples I find, and they want it to be grammatically correct. I can visit the tutoring center if I get stuck, or I can email the OWL Email Tutors short questions if I have any more problems.

writing report assignments

How to Write a Book Report

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Book Report Fundamentals

Preparing to write, an overview of the book report format, how to write the main body of a book report, how to write a conclusion to a book report, reading comprehension and book reports, book report resources for teachers .

Book reports remain a key educational assessment tool from elementary school through college. Sitting down to close read and critique texts for their content and form is a lifelong skill, one that benefits all of us well beyond our school years. With the help of this guide, you’ll develop your reading comprehension and note-taking skills. You’ll also find resources to guide you through the process of writing a book report, step-by-step, from choosing a book and reading actively to revising your work. Resources for teachers are also included, from creative assignment ideas to sample rubrics.

Book reports follow general rules for composition, yet are distinct from other types of writing assignments. Central to book reports are plot summaries, analyses of characters and themes, and concluding opinions. This format differs from an argumentative essay or critical research paper, in which impartiality and objectivity is encouraged. Differences also exist between book reports and book reviews, who do not share the same intent and audience. Here, you’ll learn the basics of what a book report is and is not.

What Is a Book Report?

"Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )

This article, written by a professor emeritus of rhetoric and English, describes the defining characteristics of book reports and offers observations on how they are composed.

"Writing a Book Report" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab outlines the steps in writing a book report, from keeping track of major characters as you read to providing adequate summary material.

"How to Write a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )

This article provides another helpful guide to writing a book report, offering suggestions on taking notes and writing an outline before drafting. 

"How to Write a Successful Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )

Another post from ThoughtCo., this article highlights the ten steps for book report success. It was written by an academic advisor and college enrollment counselor.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and an Essay?

"Differences Between a Book Report & Essay Writing" ( Classroom)

In this article from the education resource Classroom,  you'll learn the differences and similarities between book reports and essay writing.

"Differences Between a Book Report and Essay Writing" (SeattlePi.com)

In this post from a Seattle newspaper's website, memoirist Christopher Cascio highlights how book report and essay writing differ.

"The Difference Between Essays and Reports" (Solent Online Learning)

This PDF from Southampton Solent University includes a chart demonstrating the differences between essays and reports. Though it is geared toward university students, it will help students of all levels understand the differing purposes of reports and analytical essays.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and a Book Review?

"How to Write a Book Review and a Book Report" (Concordia Univ.)

The library at Concordia University offers this helpful guide to writing book report and book reviews. It defines differences between the two, then presents components that both forms share.

"Book Reviews" (Univ. of North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s writing guide shows the step-by-step process of writing book reviews, offering a contrast to the composition of book reports.

Active reading and thoughtful preparation before you begin your book report are necessary components of crafting a successful piece of writing. Here, you’ll find tips and resources to help you learn how to select the right book, decide which format is best for your report, and outline your main points.

Selecting and Finding a Book

"30 Best Books for Elementary Readers" (Education.com)

This article from Education.com lists 30 engaging books for students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It was written by Esme Raji Codell, a teacher, author, and children's literature specialist.

"How to Choose a Good Book for a Report (Middle School)" (WikiHow)

This WikiHow article offers suggestions for middle schoolers on how to choose the right book for a report, from getting started early on the search process to making sure you understand the assignment's requirements.

"Best Book-Report Books for Middle Schoolers" (Common Sense Media)

Common Sense Media has compiled this list of 25 of the best books for middle school book reports. For younger students, the article suggests you check out the site's "50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12."

"50 Books to Read in High School" (Lexington Public Library)

The Lexington, Kentucky Public Library has prepared this list to inspire high school students to choose the right book. It includes both classics and more modern favorites.

The Online Computer Library Center's catalogue helps you locate books in libraries near you, having itemized the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries.

Formats of Book Reports

"Format for Writing a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )

Here, Your Dictionary supplies guidelines for the basic book report format. It describes what you'll want to include in the heading, and what information to include in the introductory paragraph. Be sure to check these guidelines against your teacher's requirements.

"The Good Old Book Report" (Scholastic)

Nancy Barile’s blog post for Scholastic lists the questions students from middle through high school should address in their book reports.

How to Write an Outline

"Writer’s Web: Creating Outlines" (Univ. of Richmond)

The University of Richmond’s Writing Center shows how you can make use of micro and macro outlines to organize your argument.

"Why and How to Create a Useful Outline" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab demonstrates how outlines can help you organize your report, then teaches you how to create outlines.

"Creating an Outline" (EasyBib)

EasyBib, a website that generates bibliographies, offers sample outlines and tips for creating your own. The article encourages you to think about transitions and grouping your notes.

"How to Write an Outline: 4 Ways to Organize Your Thoughts" (Grammarly)

This blog post from a professional writer explains the advantages of using an outline, and presents different ways to gather your thoughts before writing.

In this section, you’ll find resources that offer an overview of how to write a book report, including first steps in preparing the introduction. A good book report's introduction hooks the reader with strong opening sentences and provides a preview of where the report is going.

"Step-by-Step Outline for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This article from Classroom furnishes students with a guide to the stages of writing a book report, from writing the rough draft to revising.

"Your Roadmap to a Better Book Report" ( Time4Writing )

Time4Writing offers tips for outlining your book report, and describes all of the information that the introduction, body, and conclusion should include.

"How to Start a Book Report" ( ThoughtCo)

This ThoughtCo. post, another by academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, demonstrates how to write a pithy introduction to your book report.

"How to Write an Introduction for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This brief but helpful post from Classroom  details what makes a good book report introduction, down to the level of individual sentences.

The body paragraphs of your book report accomplish several goals: they describe the plot, delve more deeply into the characters and themes that make the book unique, and include quotations and examples from the book. Below are some resources to help you succeed in summarizing and analyzing your chosen text.

Plot Summary and Description

"How Do You Write a Plot Summary?" ( Reference )

This short article presents the goals of writing a plot summary, and suggests a word limit. It emphasizes that you should stick to the main points and avoid including too many specific details, such as what a particular character wears.

"How to Write a Plot for a Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )

In this article from a resource website for writers, Patricia Harrelson outlines what information to include in a plot summary for a book report. 

"How to Write a Book Summary" (WikiHow)

Using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an example, this WikiHow article demonstrates how to write a plot summary one step at a time.

Analyzing Characters and Themes

"How to Write a Character Analysis Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )

Kristine Tucker shows how to write a book report focusing on character. You can take her suggestions as they are, or consider  incorporating them into the more traditional book report format.

"How to Write a Character Analysis" (YouTube)

The SixMinuteScholar Channel utilizes analysis of the film  Finding Nemo to show you how to delve deeply into character, prioritizing inference over judgment.

"How to Define Theme" ( The Editor's Blog )

Fiction editor Beth Hill contributes an extended definition of theme. She also provides examples of common themes, such as "life is fragile."

"How to Find the Theme of a Book or Short Story" ( ThoughtCo )

This blog post from ThoughtCo. clarifies the definition of theme in relation to symbolism, plot, and moral. It also offers examples of themes in literature, such as love, death, and good vs. evil.

Selecting and Integrating Quotations

"How to Choose and Use Quotations" (Santa Barbara City College)

This guide from a college writing center will help you choose which quotations to use in your book report, and how to blend quotations with your own words.

"Guidelines for Incorporating Quotes" (Ashford Univ.)

This PDF from Ashford University's Writing Center introduces the ICE method for incorporating quotations: introduce, cite, explain.

"Quote Integration" (YouTube)

This video from The Write Way YouTube channel illustrates how to integrate quotations into writing, and also explains how to cite those quotations.

"Using Literary Quotations" (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison)

This guide from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center helps you emphasize your analysis of a quotation, and explains how to incorporate quotations into your text.

Conclusions to any type of paper are notoriously tricky to write. Here, you’ll learn some creative ways to tie up loose ends in your report and express your own opinion of the book you read. This open space for sharing opinions that are not grounded in critical research is an element that often distinguishes book reports from other types of writing.

"How to Write a Conclusion for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This brief article from the education resource  Classroom illustrates the essential points you should make in a book report conclusion.

"Conclusions" (Univ. of North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Writing Center lays out strategies for writing effective conclusions. Though the article is geared toward analytical essay conclusions, the tips offered here will also help you write a strong book report.

"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Pat Bellanca’s article for Harvard University’s Writing Center presents ways to conclude essays, along with tips. Again, these are suggestions for concluding analytical essays that can also be used to tie up a book report's loose ends.

Reading closely and in an engaged manner is the strong foundation upon which all good book reports are built. The resources below will give you a picture of what active reading looks like, and offer strategies to assess and improve your reading comprehension. Further, you’ll learn how to take notes—or “annotate” your text—making it easier to find important information as you write.

How to Be an Active Reader

"Active Reading Strategies: Remember and Analyze What You Read" (Princeton Univ.)

Princeton University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning recommends ten strategies for active reading, and includes sample diagrams.

"Active Reading" (Open Univ.)

The Open University offers these techniques for reading actively alongside video examples. The author emphasizes that you should read for comprehension—not simply to finish the book as quickly as possible.

"7 Active Reading Strategies for Students" ( ThoughtCo )

In this post, Grace Fleming outlines seven methods for active reading. Her suggestions include identifying unfamiliar words and finding the main idea. 

"5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments" (YouTube)

Thomas Frank’s seven-minute video demonstrates how you can retain the most important information from long and dense reading material.

Assessing Your Reading Comprehension

"Macmillan Readers Level Test" (MacMillan)

Take this online, interactive test from a publishing company to find out your reading level. You'll be asked a number of questions related to grammar and vocabulary.

"Reading Comprehension Practice Test" (ACCUPLACER)

ACCUPLACER is a placement test from The College Board. This 20-question practice test will help you see what information you retain after reading short passages.

"Reading Comprehension" ( English Maven )

The English Maven site has aggregated exercises and tests at various reading levels so you can quiz your reading comprehension skills.

How to Improve Your Reading Comprehension

"5 Tips for Improving Reading Comprehension" ( ThoughtCo )

ThoughtCo. recommends five tips to increase your reading comprehension ability, including reading with tools such as highlighters, and developing new vocabulary.

"How to Improve Reading Comprehension: 8 Expert Tips" (PrepScholar)

This blog post from PrepScholar provides ideas for improving your reading comprehension, from expanding your vocabulary to discussing texts with friends.

CrashCourse video: "Reading Assignments" (YouTube)

This CrashCourse video equips you with tools to read more effectively. It will help you determine how much material you need to read, and what strategies you can use to absorb what you read.

"Improving Reading Comprehension" ( Education Corner )

From a pre-reading survey through post-reading review, Education Corner  walks you through steps to improve reading comprehension.

Methods of In-text Annotation

"The Writing Process: Annotating a Text" (Hunter College)

This article from Hunter College’s Rockowitz Writing Center outlines how to take notes on a text and provides samples of annotation.

"How To Annotate Text While Reading" (YouTube)

This video from the SchoolHabits YouTube channel presents eleven annotation techniques you can use for better reading comprehension.

"5 Ways To Annotate Your Books" ( Book Riot )

This article from the Book Riot  blog highlights five efficient annotation methods that will save you time and protect your books from becoming cluttered with unnecessary markings.

"How Do You Annotate Your Books?" ( Epic Reads )

This post from Epic Reads highlights how different annotation methods work for different people, and showcases classic methods from sticky notes to keeping a reading notebook.

Students at every grade level can benefit from writing book reports, which sharpen critical reading skills. Here, we've aggregated sources to help you plan book report assignments and develop rubrics for written and oral book reports. You’ll also find alternative book report assessment ideas that move beyond the traditional formats.

Teaching Elementary School Students How to Write Book Reports

"Book Reports" ( Unique Teaching Resources )

These reading templates courtesy of Unique Teaching Resources make great visual aids for elementary school students writing their first book reports.

"Elementary Level Book Report Template" ( Teach Beside Me )

This   printable book report template from a teacher-turned-homeschooler is simple, classic, and effective. It asks basic questions, such as "who are the main characters?" and "how did you feel about the main characters?"

"Book Reports" ( ABC Teach )

ABC Teach ’s resource directory includes printables for book reports on various subjects at different grade levels, such as a middle school biography book report form and a "retelling a story" elementary book report template.

"Reading Worksheets" ( Busy Teacher's Cafe )

This page from Busy Teachers’ Cafe contains book report templates alongside reading comprehension and other language arts worksheets.

Teaching Middle School and High School Students How to Write Book Reports

"How to Write a Book Report: Middle and High School Level" ( Fact Monster)

Fact Monster ’s Homework Center discusses each section of a book report, and explains how to evaluate and analyze books based on genre for students in middle and high school.

"Middle School Outline Template for Book Report" (Trinity Catholic School)

This PDF outline template breaks the book report down into manageable sections for seventh and eighth graders by asking for specific information in each paragraph.

"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( Classroom )

In this article for Classroom,  Elizabeth Thomas describes what content high schoolers should focus on when writing their book reports.

"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( The Pen & The Pad )

Kori Morgan outlines techniques for adapting the book report assignment to the high school level in this post for The Pen & The Pad .

"High School Book Lists and Report Guidelines" (Highland Hall Waldorf School)

These sample report formats, grading paradigms, and tips are collected by Highland Hall Waldorf School. Attached are book lists by high school grade level.

Sample Rubrics

"Book Review Rubric Editable" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This free resource from Teachers Pay Teachers allows you to edit your book report rubric to the specifications of your assignment and the grade level you teach.

"Book Review Rubric" (Winton Woods)

This PDF rubric from a city school district includes directions to take the assignment long-term, with follow-up exercises through school quarters.

"Multimedia Book Report Rubric" ( Midlink Magazine )

Perfect for oral book reports, this PDF rubric from North Carolina State University's Midlink Magazine  will help you evaluate your students’ spoken presentations.

Creative Book Report Assignments

"25 Book Report Alternatives" (Scholastic)

This article from the Scholastic website lists creative alternatives to the standard book report for pre-kindergarteners through high schoolers.

"Fresh Ideas for Creative Book Reports" ( Education World )

Education World offers nearly 50 alternative book report ideas in this article, from a book report sandwich to a character trait diagram.

"A Dozen Ways to Make Amazingly Creative Book Reports" ( We Are Teachers )

This post from We Are Teachers puts the spotlight on integrating visual arts into literary study through multimedia book report ideas.

"More Ideas Than You’ll Ever Use for Book Reports" (Teachnet.com)

This list from Teachnet.com includes over 300 ideas for book report assignments, from "interviewing" a character to preparing a travel brochure to the location in which the book is set.

"Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report" (National Council of Teachers of English)

In this PDF resource from the NCTE's  English Journal,  Diana Mitchell offers assignment ideas ranging from character astrology signs to a character alphabet.

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How To Write a Book Report?

How To Write a Book Report?

  • Smodin Editorial Team
  • Published: May 30, 2024

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in middle school or tackling a college-level project; writing a book report that’s clear and impressive isn’t easy. But this isn’t entirely true, as you need to know how to go about it.

In this guide, we will walk you through different steps to writing a book report. From preparing to writing an engaging plot summary to creating a strong critical analysis, we’ll share different examples and the best ways to write a book report that can earn you good grades.

Keep reading on with these easy tips, and you’ll soon master the steps and impress your teachers and professors!

1. Preparing To Write a Book Report

Before you start writing a book report, a little preparation can go a long way in making the writing process easier.

The first step in learning how to write a book report is gathering all the information you need. Once you’ve gotten it together, it’s a simple matter of organizing your thoughts. Follow these steps.

  • Read the book : Start by reading the entire book, even if it’s non-fiction, to understand the story and important plot points. Take notes while reading to identify the main characters, major themes, and key events. Be sure to highlight memorable passages or specific examples that stand out.
  • Understand the assignment: Make sure you know the requirements, like the correct font, word count, and any specific guidelines. Find out whether the book report should include a critical analysis, personal opinion, or character analysis.
  • Outline your report : Create a basic outline to help guide your writing. Divide your report into logical sections, like an introductory paragraph, plot summary, body paragraphs, and concluding paragraphs. This also involves jotting down key elements to include in each section, like a thesis statement or the main points of your argument.
  • Research background information : Google the book’s title, author’s writing style, publication date, and brief description to get some more context. You might also want to explore the book cover to see how it might influence your understanding of the book.
  • Organize your thoughts: Studies have found a direct link between note-taking and academic success, showing just how important notes can be in various contexts. Arrange your notes to focus on the main themes, important aspects of the plot, and your personal thoughts. Then, think about how you’ll analyze the author’s writing style and use of literary devices.

2. Write the Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your entire book report. It’s your best chance to grab the reader’s attention while giving them key background information and framing your main points. Here’s how you can create an introductory paragraph that captivates readers and leaves them wanting to learn more.

  • Introduce the book : Always start with the book’s title in quotation marks or italics, then include the writer’s name right after. It’s also important to provide the publication date and any historical context that’s relevant to understanding the book, like ongoing conflict or a recent invention.
  • Provide a brief overview : Provide a very concise summary of the entire book to give readers an idea of what to expect. Highlight the book’s genre and a brief description of the setting. You should also mention whether it’s a fiction or non-fiction book.
  • Present the thesis statement : This is pretty much the central point or argument that your report will make. This may require some practice, but formulate a clear thesis statement that reflects your analysis of the book. Your thesis should reveal the main themes, key elements, and specific examples that you’ll discuss in the body paragraphs.
  • Engage the reader : Open with a catchy hook, like a vivid quote from the book or an interesting fact about the author. You could also pose a question or make a surprising statement related to the book’s major themes. When doing this, be sure to use vivid language to make the reader curious.
  • Stay clear and concise : Avoid loading the introduction with too many details. Remember that you want to leave the reader with just enough, so they crave more information. Keep it brief and focused.
  • Practice your thesis statement : Don’t just stick with the first thesis statement that you create. Revise it a couple of times until it illustrates your main argument in a way that’s clear and interesting.
  • Be specific : Make sure the thesis statement is specific and directly relates to the analysis you’re about to present.
  • Preview the structure : Give a hint of what readers will find in the body paragraphs, like theme analysis or character analysis.

3. Write the Plot Summary

When your plot summary has been written well, readers will get a nice idea of the story. They’ll also learn important aspects of the book’s events and themes.

  • Always start with the basics. Briefly state the book’s title and the main character’s name.
  • Provide a brief summary of the setting to help readers visualize where the story is happening.
  • The next step is outlining key events, which involves identifying the major happenings or plot points that define the story.
  • Sum up how the plot develops from the beginning to the climax and resolution, focusing on the book’s central conflict and main events.
  • Avoid spoilers: For longer book reports, be careful not to reveal too much about the ending.
  • Stay true to the story: Ensure your summary accurately represents the author’s writing style and the book’s themes.
  • Keep taking notes: As you write the summary, refer back to the notes you made while reading. This will ensure you’ve captured all the key points.

While writing the plot summary, it’s important to keep it concise and clear. Don’t try to squeeze in every single detail; highlight only the essential plot points. If relevant, mention significant literary devices that the author used. This is often elements like foreshadowing or symbolism but don’t go into too much detail while mentioning these.

Connect major events to the book’s major themes or underlying message. This will help show how the actions of the main characters shape the story’s progression.

Throughout this, it’s also important to stay neutral and be chronological. The plot summary should be an objective recount of the story, not a subjective critique. Save personal opinions for the analysis and conclusion. Along with this, be sure to present the story’s events in the same order as they happen in the book. This helps keep the flow logical.

4. Write the Analysis

Writing a strong analysis can take your book report to another level. It can also show how well you understand the book’s themes, characters, and key details. Here’s how to craft a thoughtful analysis:

  • Highlight the main themes: Identify the book’s primary themes and how they impact the story. You then have to explain how these themes affect the main character and their development throughout the story. Provide specific examples that illustrate how the author explores these themes.
  • Conduct a character analysis: Focus on the main character, explaining their motivations, what makes them tick, and their role in the plot. After doing that, analyze how their actions shape the story and how they evolve over time. Discuss relationships between the main character and others to reveal more about the book’s relationship dynamics.
  • Examine literary devices : Book reports often fall short when they overlook the writing style and use of literary devices. Unpack the symbolism, imagery, or motifs that deepen the book’s themes or enhance the plot. Mention how these devices contribute to the overall impact of the book.
  • Offer critical insights : Break down the way the author writes to influence the book’s tone. It’s important to compare the book with other works by the same author or similar books to offer perspective. Give the reader a brief book review within the report that highlights its strengths and weaknesses while supporting your analysis.
  • Stay focused on key details : Keep the analysis aligned with your thesis statement and only discuss relevant points. Be sure to organize your analysis in a way that makes sense to the reader.

5. Write the Conclusion

The conclusion is the final step in the process and if you get it right, you could have a pretty good report on your hands. This section should neatly wrap up your book by summarizing key points and providing a final thought. Here’s how to go about it.

  • Restate the thesis statement : Begin your conclusion by restating the thesis statement but differently. The goal here is to summarize your main argument, tying it to your analysis of the book’s theme, characters, and plot.
  • Recap key points : Provide a concise summary of the key points you discussed in the body paragraphs, like the main themes, character development, and writing style used. You should also highlight the most crucial insights that your book report offered without creating repetition.
  • Connect to the introduction : Tie your conclusion back to the introductory paragraph by referring to the initial hook or question posed at the start. This will create a satisfying sense of closure in your report.
  • Offer final thoughts : If appropriate, share your personal opinion about the book as a whole and whether it met your expectations. Suggest who might enjoy reading this book and offer recommendations.
  • Leave a strong impression : End your conclusion with a powerful statement that makes the reader think about the book and your analyses. You could also consider linking the book’s themes or lessons to broader ideas or other books.

Additional Tips for Writing a Book Report

Before you rush to start writing, here are some practical tips to keep in mind:

  • Find an interesting book : Pick a book that genuinely interests you. Your enthusiasm will reflect in your writing and keep you motivated throughout the writing process.
  • Don’t read tired: This is a big mistake as you won’t be able to effectively digest all that the book has to offer. Remember that this is a book report and not just reading for enjoyment. So, always opt to read with fresh eyes to accurately identify key elements and take notes.
  • Use quotations sparingly : Only include the most impactful quotes that directly support your analysis.
  • Find a different angle : This is particularly applicable if you’re doing a report on a popular book. Try to bring in a new perspective or interpretation that shakes things up a little. Mind you, it’s important not to force it. The new perspective that you bring should still make sense in line with the book’s themes.
  • Stay on topic: When a book is interesting, it might be tempting to want to include and link every single element. Don’t do that. Ensure each paragraph aligns with your thesis statement and provides valuable insights.
  • Proofread and revise : Check for clarity, spelling, and grammar errors to ensure your report is polished and well-structured.

Make Writing a Book Report Easy With Smodin

Smodin provides AI-powered tools that simplify writing a book report. Here are some features that could help:

  • AI Writer : Generate high-quality, structured text complete with references, making it a lot easier to write your book report.
  • Summarizer : Quickly create concise note summaries. Helps you condense key details into a brief overview for your report. You can also use this to provide a good overview of the book.
  • Citation Machine : Automatically generate accurate references in MLA and APA formats. Adds credibility to your analysis.
  • Homework Solver : Use this tool to find answers to any questions you have while preparing your report.
  • AI Grader : Get detailed feedback to help you refine your arguments and writing style.

And there you have it, everything you need to know about how to write a good book report. Trust us: if you follow these steps, you’ll confidently craft each section and leave your assessors with a book report that’ll be the golden standard.

Remember to find an engaging book, organize your ideas, and use practical tools like Smodin to make the writing process easier.

  • Artificial Intelligence /

Perplexity will research and write reports

A new feature called pages will do the searching, writing, and laying out of a report with just a prompt..

By Emilia David , a reporter who covers AI. Prior to joining The Verge, she covered the intersection between technology, finance, and the economy.

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Photo illustration of a computer with a brain on the screen.

AI search platform Perplexity is launching a new feature called Pages that will generate a customizable webpage based on user prompts. The new feature feels like a one-stop shop for making a school report since Perplexity does the research and writing for you.

Pages taps Perplexity’s AI search models to find information and then creates what I can loosely call a research presentation that can be published and shared with others.  In a blog post , Perplexity says it designed Pages to help educators, researchers, and “hobbyists” share their knowledge.

Users type out what their report is about or what they want to know in the prompt box. They can gear the writing more toward beginners, expert readers, or a more general audience. Perplexity searches for information, then begins writing the page by breaking down the information into sections, citing some sources, and then adding visuals. Users can make the page as detailed or concise as they want, and they can also change the images Perplexity uses. However, you can’t edit the text it generates; you have to write another prompt to fix any mistakes.

I tried out Pages ahead of time to see how it works. Pages is not geared toward people like me who already have an avenue to share our knowledge. But it doesn’t seem geared toward researchers or teachers, either. I wanted to see how it can break down complex topics and if it can help with the difficult task of presenting dense information to different audiences.

Among other topics, I asked Perplexity’s Pages to generate a page on the “convergence of quantum computing and artificial intelligence and its impact on society” across the three audience types. The main difference between audiences seems to be the jargon in the written text and the kind of website it takes data from. Each generated report pulls from different sources, including introductory blog posts like this one from IBM . It also cited Wikipedia, which drove the student report vibe home.

A screenshot of the Perplexity Page that talks about quantum AI.

The Perplexity-generated page did a passable job of explaining the basics of quantum computing and how AI fits into the technology. But the “research” didn’t go as deep as I could have if I were writing the presentation myself. The more advanced version didn’t even really talk about “the convergence of quantum computing and AI.” It found blog posts talking about quantum inflection points , which is when quantum technologies become more commercially viable and is not at all related to what I asked it to write about.

Then, I asked Pages to write a report about myself, mainly because the information there is easily verifiable. But it only took information from my personal website and an article about me on my high school’s website — not from other public, easily accessible sources like my author page on The Verge . It also sometimes elaborated on things that had nothing to do with me. For example, I began my journalism career during the 2008 financial crisis. Instead of talking about the pieces I wrote about mass layoffs, Perplexity explained the beginnings of the financial crisis.

Pages does the surface-level googling and writing for you, but it isn’t research. Perplexity claims that Pages will help educators develop “comprehensive” study guides for students and researchers to create detailed reports on their findings. I could not upload a research paper for it to summarize, and I couldn’t edit the text it generated, two things I believe users who want to make the most of Pages would appreciate.

I do see one potential user for Pages, and it isn’t one Perplexity called out: students rushing to put out an assignment. Pages may improve in the future. Right now, it’s a way to get easy, possibly correct surface-level information into a presentation that doesn’t really teach anything.

Pages will be available to all Perplexity users, and the company says it’s slowly rolling it out to its free, Pro, and Enterprise users. 

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writing report assignments

8 Ways to Create AI-Proof Writing Prompts

C reating 100 percent AI-proof writing prompts can often be impossible but that doesn’t mean there aren’t strategies that can limit the efficacy of AI work. These techniques can also help ensure more of the writing submitted in your classroom is human-generated. 

I started seeing a big uptick in AI-generated work submitted in my classes over the last year and that has continued. As a result, I’ve gotten much better at recognizing AI work , but I’ve also gotten better at creating writing prompts that are less AI-friendly. 

Essentially, I like to use the public health Swiss cheese analogy when thinking about AI prevention: All these strategies on their own have holes but when you layer the cheese together, you create a barrier that’s hard to get through. 

The eight strategies here may not prevent students from submitting AI work, but I find these can incentivize human writing and make sure that any work submitted via AI will not really meet the requirements of the assignment. 

1. Writing AI-Proof Prompts: Put Your Prompt Into Popular AI tools such as ChatGPT, Copilot, and Bard 

Putting your writing prompt into an AI tools will give you an immediate idea of how most AI tools will handle your prompt. If the various AI chatbots do a good, or at least adequate, job immediately, it might be wise to tweak the prompt. 

One of my classes asks students to write about a prized possession. When you put this prompt into an AI chatbot, it frequently returns an essay about a family member's finely crafted watch. Obviously, I now watch out for any essays about watches. 

2. Forbid Cliché Use

Probably the quickest and easiest way to cut back on some AI use is to come down hard on cliché use in writing assignments. AI tools are essentially cliché machines, so banning these can prevent a lot of AI use. 

Equally as important, this practice will help your students become better writers. As any good writer knows, clichés should be avoided like the plague. 

3. Incorporate Recent Events

The free version of ChatGPT only has access to events up to 2022. While there are plugins to allow it to search the internet and other internet-capable AI tools, some students won’t get further than ChatGPT. 

More importantly, in my experience, all AI tools struggle to incorporate recent events as effectively as historic ones. So connecting class material and assignments to events such as a recent State of Union speech or the Academy Awards will make any AI writing use less effective. 

4. Require Quotes

AI tools can incorporate direct quotations but most are not very good at doing so. The quotes used tend to be very short and not as well-placed within essays. 

Asking an AI tool for recent quotes also can be particularly problematic for today’s robot writers. For instance, I asked Microsoft's Copilot to summarize the recent Academy Awards using quotes, and specifically asked it to quote from Oppenheimer's director Christopher Nolan’s acceptance speech. It quoted something Nolan had previously said instead. Copilot also quoted from Wes Anderson’s acceptance speech, an obvious error since Anderson wasn’t at the awards .  

5. Make Assignments Personal

Having students reflect on material in their own lives can be a good way to prevent AI writing. In-person teachers can get to know their students well enough to know when these types of personal details are fabricated. 

I teach online but still find it easier to tell when a more personalized prompt was written by AI. For example, one student submitted a paper about how much she loved skateboarding that was so non-specific it screamed AI written. Another submitted a post about a pair of sneakers that was also clearly written by a "sole-less" AI (I could tell because of the clichés and other reasons). 

6. Make Primary or Scholarly Sources Mandatory

Requiring sources that are not easily accessible on the internet can stop AI writing in its tracks. I like to have students find historic newspapers for certain assignments. The AI tools I am familiar with can’t incorporate these. 

For instance, I asked Copilot to compare coverage of the first Academy Awards in the media to the most recent awards show and to include quotes from historic newspaper coverage. The comparison was not well done and there were no quotes from historical newspaper coverage. 

AI tools also struggle to incorporate journal articles. Encouraging your students to include these types of sources ensures the work they produce is deeper than something that can be revealed by a quick Google search, which not only makes it harder for AI to write but also can raise the overall quality.  

7. Require Interviews, Field Trips, Etc. 

Building on primary and scholarly sources, you can have your students conduct interviews or go on field trips to historic sites, museums, etc. 

AI is still, thankfully, incapable of engaging in these types of behavior. This requires too much work for every assignment but it is the most effective way to truly ensure your work is human- not computer-written. 

If you’re still worried about AI use, you can even go a step further by asking your students to include photos of them with their interview subjects or from the field trips. Yes, AI art generators are getting better as well, but remember the Swiss cheese analogy? Every layer of prevention can help. 

8. Have Students Write During Class

As I said to start, none of the methods discussed are foolproof. Many ways around these safeguards already exist and there will be more ways to bypass these in the future. So if you’re really, really worried about AI use you may want to choose what I call the “nuclear option.” If you teach in person you can require students to write essays in person. 

This approach definitely works for preventing AI and is okay for short pieces, but for longer pieces, it has a lot of downsides. I would have trouble writing a long piece in this setting and imagine many students will as well. Additionally, this requirement could create an accusatory class atmosphere that is more focused on preventing AI use than actually teaching. It’s also not practical for online teaching. 

That all being said, given how common AI writing has become in education, I understand why some teachers will turn to this method. Hopefully, suggestions 1-7 will work but if AI-generated papers are still out of hand in your classroom, this is a blunt-force method that can work temporarily. 

Good luck and may your assignments be free of AI writing! 

  • 7 Ways To Detect AI Writing Without Technology
  • Best Free AI Detection Sites
  • My Student Was Submitting AI Papers. Here's What I Did

AI-proof writing prompts

More From Forbes

Chatgpt prompts to produce content consistently (outperform everyone).

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ChatGPT prompts to produce content consistently (outperform everyone)

There are an infinite number of things to write about and an infinite number of ways to write about them. But when you’re hit with writer’s block, it can feel like every topic has been exhausted. Change that for good with ChatGPT, for more actionable and relevant ideas than you know what to do with.

ChatGPT doesn’t write my content, but I use it to produce consistently. Here are the five prompts I personally use to produce every day, resonate with my audience, and keep the ideas flowing. Copy, paste and edit the square brackets in ChatGPT, and keep the same chat window open so the context carries through.

Never be stuck for content ideas with ChatGPT: prompts to overcome writer’s block

Find new titles.

The headline is the most important component of any blog or article. Get the title right, and the rest almost writes itself. But it’s tough to think of compelling titles on tap. You need a system, and ChatGPT can help. Use this prompt to get new titles on tap, while learning from your best work to keep improving.

“Here are [number] titles that performed comparatively well over the last [duration]: [enter titles]. Here are some that didn’t: [enter titles]. Analyze the results and suggest: 10 new titles that will work well, then 10 rewrites of the titles that didn’t do well, to make them more compelling.”

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Rfk jr. campaign sues nevada election official over ballot requirement as push for debate stage nears eleventh hour, the fed quietly admits gold is replacing the dollar as collapse fear predicted to trigger a 15 7 trillion etf bitcoin price flip, understand audience pains.

The more you know your dream client, the more you can create work that speaks directly to them. Get on a deeper level with the people you create for and dig into their challenges and problems for ideas on how to solve them. Unless there’s a compelling reason for them to consume your content, they’ll go elsewhere. Get their attention and make them stay.

“My target audience, [describe your target audience], has problems including [describe target audience’s biggest problems]. Suggest 5 topics they want to read about to solve their problems, including any underlying or less obvious ones, within my swimlane of [your business or writing area].”‌

Champion their desires

Your social media content should demonstrate to your dream audience that you understand them like no one else does. They should feel as though you’re one of them; fighting their corner, representing their needs, understanding their vibe. Use this prompt to let your audience know you’re one of them, reinforcing that message with everything you create.

“My target audience deeply wants [describe target audience’s deepest desires]. Create 10 punchy phrases that they will agree with, that I could incorporate into social media posts. These should not be questions, but simple statements.”

Re-work hooks

The hook is the most important part of any social media post. Don’t underestimate the power of this opening line. Give your words more chance of being read by rewriting the hook until it’s perfect. With this prompt, it doesn’t need to take all day. Once you have your options, read each one out loud. Which sparks intrigue? Which grabs attention as a standalone line? Use the most compelling opener to draw people in every time.

“Here’s a social media post I’m going to send. Re-work the first line to grab attention. The opening line should not be a question. It should be 5-7 words long, create an information gap and create intrigue. Suggest 10 new opening lines. [Insert social media post].”

Ideate wildcards

Content creation is a system, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Incorporate some crazy into your process. Use this prompt to experiment with off-the-wall ideas you would never have thought of. So don’t think, just do. Be hungry for the data these new ideas will bring. You can always delete them if it really doesn’t work.

“Given what you know about my target audience’s biggest problems and deepest desires, as well as article titles that have performed well, suggest 5 new article titles that are more left field, that I can create as an experiment. For each one explain what the article should include and why it could perform well.”

Produce consistent work with ChatGPT: content creation prompts

Information is everywhere, and there’s no excuse to not get started. Use these prompts to make content creation a breeze, by knowing exactly what to create for your audience and brand. Get ideas for new headlines, understand your audience on a deep level, and re-work how you open posts so they’re set up for success. Finally, ideate wildcards by asking for crazy ideas. Creativity is a habit you can cement today.

Jodie Cook

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