The Grade Miners Guide to Writing a Stellar General Report

The guide below has been compiled by The Grade Miners to assist you to write a general report. It will show you the typical structure of a general report and provide you with easy steps on how to write an informative and well-organized general report.

A general report is merely a report, that is, it is not a particular type of report. Your assignment will specify the kind of report you are required to write and the information you are supposed to give. A report is a text that provides specific information to a target audience. The information you present comprises of your investigations, findings, a thorough analysis of the issue, and making a proposal or recommending specific actions.

A report is made up of a well-structured format comprising of sections and headings. The purpose is to enable the user to follow the information with ease and to locate different parts of the report as fast as possible.

Every report has a report brief which outlines the requirement of that particular report. The report brief will tell you the structure of the report, its objectives, the intended audience, the format to be used, and the issues to be discussed. Although we will give you guidance on how to go about general report writing, it is essential to check with your tutor if there are any additional instructions.

Reports are essential tools for assessment. Tutors often use them to gauge the understanding of students on specific subject matters, experiences or research work. Similarly, in the workplace environment reports assess whether an individual possesses the skills to come up with an excellent report that is appropriate for that particular organization.

An informative report provides analyzed data and evidence that address the given problem or issues in the report brief. When you use another person’s ideas, thoughts, or work to compile the report make sure you list that source of information and put it in the correct formatting style.

An excellent general report has the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrates a clear understanding of the report brief and its requirements
  • Collects and assesses the appropriate information
  • Presents information in a well-structured manner
  • Provides a report that has addressed all the issues pinpointed in the report brief
  • Draws conclusions that are evidence-based and critically evaluated
  • Offers pragmatic and cogent recommendations when necessary

Typically, general reports have the following structure:

Cover Page

In this section, the title of the report is given, the name of the person writing the report, the date, and the name of the person for whom the report is intended.

Terms of Reference

Here, you provide details about the content of the report, its purpose, and the intended audience. It should not exceed more than one paragraph; it can be even a single sentence.

Abstract/ Summary/ Executive Summary

In this part, you will give a general overview of your report. It states the objectives of the report, the findings, and the recommended course of actions. The abstract is a summary so ensure that you only highlight the key points. Do not provide too much detail in this section. The abstract is the first thing your reader will read. Therefore, it is important to deliver a perspicuous summary.

Contents

Write the contents (table of contents) on a fresh page. It gives the reader information about all the sections and headings of your report and their corresponding page numbers.  It allows the reader to locate the part they want to read with ease. Besides giving page references for headings and subheadings, it is advisable to assign a number to them. Ensure that the numbering used is consistent all through.

Introduction

In this part, you lay the platform for the body of your report. Give a detailed explanation of the objectives and goals of the report.  Talk about the challenges encountered when creating the report, the methodology used, the scope of the research, and the background information.

Methods Used

In the methodology section, outline all the techniques and instruments used to collect the information. Give details about the sources of the materials used, the procedures followed, the preparations made, challenges faced when employing the chosen methods, and any changes in the methodology.

Findings

Present the results of the study. Relevant graphics such as charts, table, diagrams, graphs, etc. often accompany these findings as they assist in illustrating the results. Findings are facts thus do not require comments. Therefore, the most important thing is to ensure that the order of presentation is logical.

Discussion

The discussion comprises the bulk of the body of your report. All the data and accompanying evidence is analyzed and discussed. Remember that everything you present should be centered on the issue the report was written to address. If the information is a lot, divide the discussion into sections, each having a heading. Ensure that you organize your ideas well so that your reader will find it easy to follow.

Headings and subheadings ensure that your report has a well laid out structure. When listing points, use bullet points. Ensure that you mention all the sources used in compiling the report and you provide the appropriate format.

Conclusion

The conclusion highlights the significance of the report you have written. Outline important points and mention what you consider to be the most critical findings. Avoid introducing new information when writing your conclusion.

The appendices section contains graphics and all supporting information that has not been published. These include; charts, tables, graphs, surveys, questionnaires, transcripts, etc.

Bibliography

The bibliography or references section provides a list of all the sources used. The order of listing the references will depend on the required format as stated in the report brief. Commonly, the references are listed alphabetically according to the name of the author.  In addition to the bibliography, add a section titled ‘Background Reading,’ if sources were consulted, but no direct reference was not made to them. The sources mentioned in the Background Reading section are often listed alphabetically and follow the same format as the Bibliography.

Acknowledgment

This section is usually needed when you wish to acknowledge the people or organizations who assisted you in completing the report successfully. They might have given you direct assistance or provided useful information or advice.

Glossary

All technical terms are listed alphabetically, and a short description of each term accompanies each corresponding word. Additionally, use this section to give explanations of all the abbreviations, acronyms or standard units found in the report.

The format above is the typical format for most general reports. Some sections might be necessary or not required. Therefore, it is essential to talk to your tutor about the parts you should include in your general report.

Writing a General Report

General reports should be organized, brief, and straight to the point. Adequate planning and preparation are required to achieve this. Planning before writing your general report makes the writing process less strenuous.

Steps to Writing an Excellent General Report

The key to writing a clear, concise, and well-structured report is to prepare and plan.  Preparing beforehand will make your work more manageable.  Some preparation strategies include determining how long each part of your report will be and allocating each section the time required accordingly. That ensures that you have enough time to go through your report again before the deadline for submission and make any necessary changes and corrections.

Step One: Read the Report Brief

This stage is the most important, without it, there is no report writing. The importance of a report brief is that it explains the purpose of writing the report. It states who the report is intended for and why the report is being written. Before you start, ensure that you understand all the requirements of the report and seek clarification if you find some of the things requested unclear.

Step Two: Understanding the Content of Your Report

In this step, you plan on how you will go about your research. Determine the type of information you require. Decide if you need to read any background data. Figure out the documents or articles you will need for your investigation. Think whether you will need additional assistance such as library resources. Find out if your report will require an interview or recording of data. Create a plan on how to go about the entire report writing process.

Step Three: Collecting and Choosing Data

Find the appropriate information you need for writing your report after understanding everything you require. The amount of information to be gathered is dependent on how much detail you are supposed to provide in your general report.  There are different sources of information. It might include written work, surveys, talking to people, making observations, questionnaires and many others.

All these sources of information are equally helpful, but it is advisable to look at written material first to broaden your understanding of the topic. Afterward, you can look at surveys, questionnaires, and other information of that nature. When reading different sources of information, assess their suitability in the context of that particular report. Cross-check with your report brief from time to time to ensure that the information you have chosen is relevant and appropriate.

Step Four: Organizing the Information You have Gathered

After collecting the data, decide on the order of presentation. Start by putting the points that are related together to form specific sections or chapters. Do not forget to keep checking the report brief in case some information needs to be shed off from the report. The order of organization should be easy to follow and logical.

Step Five: Choosing the Structure for Your Report

The structure we have outlined above is used in most cases. As mentioned, general reports usually have the following structure: The title page, The Executive Summary, Contents, Introduction, Terms of Reference, Procedure or Methodology, Findings or results, Conclusion, Recommendations, References, and Appendices. Each section of your general report will have a heading and subheading, and you are required to number them. Although this is the commonly used structure, the structure of general reports varies. These differences are dependent on the nature of the report (business report, laboratory report, recommendation reports, etc.) its length, and the context, i.e., whether a formal tone has to be felt.

Step Six: Writing Your Report (The First Part)

You have already organized the information you are going to talk about and have chosen the appropriate structure for your report. The next step is to begin writing your report. Write down the gathered information under the relevant sections and headings.

When drafting your report, you can start with the findings, methodology, and decide what should go to the appendices section.  It is always easier to write the contents page and summary last since you will be in a better position to include everything.

Any writing style you use should present your information accurately and explicitly. The points should be present coherently and concisely.

A well-organized structure is necessary when writing different paragraphs, sections, and chapters of your report. Use the following to guide you:

  • Introducing the primary idea of the paragraph, section or chapter
  • Discussing and expounding on the idea and providing the definition of critical terms
  • Disclose the evidence you gathered and use it to back up your points
  • Talk about all the evidence you give and illustrate how it relates to your discussion.
  • Finish your paragraph, section, or chapter. Demonstrate the significance of the paragraph, section, or chapter of the entire report and create a link with the subsequent paragraph, section or chapter.

Step Seven: Analysis and Making Conclusions

Evaluate and examine the data, facts, and evidence you collected. State your findings and explain their significance and implication then deduce conclusions from the evaluation. The most important thing is not to present the information you obtained but to relate it to the issues the report seeks to address. Your conclusion is solely based on your findings and analysis. As such, no new information should be mentioned in the concluding paragraph.

Step Eight: Recommendations

When making recommendations, you explain what you think should be done to tackle the issue at hand or what course of action should be taken next. To be able to write your recommendations, you need to do the following things. Go through your findings and conclusion once again. Think about the actions that should be undertaken by those who requested for the report. Ensure that the recommendations you give are pragmatic and logical based on the conclusions you made. The proposals you provide should be detailed enough to help the person it is intended for to understand all that is needed to implement the recommended measures or actions. It is essential to list your recommendations and number them.

Step Nine: The Executive Summary and the Table of Contents

You may not be required to write the Executive Summary and the Table of Contents for some reports. Although the Executive Summary and the Table of Contents appear at the beginning of your report, it is impossible to write them before finishing writing your report. The table of contents provides information on where to find all the sections of the report. It is therefore impossible to write it at the beginning because you do not know which page each information will be found. Moreover, you do not know the extent of information yet. The executive summary provides a summary of the entire report including the recommendations and conclusions. Now, we hope you understand why you cannot write them at the beginning.

Step Ten: References

Provide a list of all the sources used in the reference section. Ensure you adhere to the formatting style stated in the report brief.

Step Eleven: Reviewing Your Draft and Putting Everything Together

After writing your draft, take some time off before reviewing your work. After you have returned from your break, revisit the work and make corrections whenever appropriate. Rewriting and rearranging your work is often necessary.

Assess your work to ensure that the structure is clear, logical, and easy to follow. Look at your points critically to see if they have been adequately discussed and supported by complementing proof. It is advisable to use the word processor when writing your general report as it makes rewriting and rearranging different sections of your draft very easy.

Step Twelve: Preparing for the Presentation of Your Report

Check if you have followed all the instructions. Ensure that all the required sections have been included in your in your report. Also, ensure that the parts follow the proper sequence. Check to see if you have given accurate information that is convincing. Ensure that there are no gaps in your information.

Take a close look at your discussion and decide whether its logical based on the conclusions and recommendations you have stated. In this step, check your word choice and ensure it is appropriate and compelling. Look at the format and presentation of your report and ensure they have met the requirement in the report brief.

Make sure that your numbering of sections, chapters, and appendices is consistent.  Ensure that you explained all the new terms, symbols, and abbreviations. Check your reference section to ensure that all the sources used are mentioned and referenced using the required formatting style. Proofread your report at least twice to fish out grammatical, spelling, language, punctuation, typing, and any other errors. Proper presentation of your report will create a good impression of your work.

Additional Advice

For reports written for academic purposes, ensure that you take the feedback from your tutors seriously. Their feedback provides information about areas you need to improve. Therefore, construct a checklist of the items they mention so that you can include them in your subsequent reports. If there are areas they have highlighted, seek additional advice so that you can improve your report writing skills. Remember that report writing skills are not limited to the classroom environment. Such skills will be required throughout your career. Therefore, the more you polish them, the better it will be for you in future.

We hope that the above guide is beneficial to you. Forward any additional questions you have to The Grade Miners. We will be glad to assist you. Report writing does not have to be stressful anymore because The Grade Miners has got you covered. The Grade Miners has all it takes to accommodate all your writing needs. Our writing team comprises of qualified and dedicated personnel who have ample knowledge in writing all types of reports and academic writing assignments. They offer unrivaled services due to their immense experience garnered after many years of writing and working with many clients from different backgrounds. The Grade Miners is your best choice when it comes to your writing assignments because your success is our pride.