In our daily life, both at work and outside it, it is not uncommon that on some occasion we have to prepare a report to give an account of some situation or problem .

We also speak of scientific or academic reports when we are given the task of clearly explaining a scientific or social problem in a document with data and conclusions.

Whether you are filing a complaint, making a request or simply documenting a particular situation, this is the type of document we will usually write. But some people may find it complex to write a report. That’s why in this article we provide you with a series of steps on how to write a report, at a general level.

What is a report?

A report is a type of prose document that is written for the purpose of enabling the person making the report to communicate something about a situation or issue to others. Usually they are addressed to higher instances (for example to the Town Hall or to a superior) , although there can also be found reports aimed at communicating something to a professional different from us so that he or she can work with the same data and contrast or extend it.

There is a wide variety of report types, which may have different purposes and distinct structures. However, in this article we propose a report that takes into account the general structure of any of them.

Steps for preparing a report

When preparing a report we must take into account that first of all we will have to think about how, when and why we are going to do it . Later, the report itself will be written based on the situation to be reflected and the previous considerations.

Below we will explain a number of useful steps in order to write a report correctly.

1. What is our objective?

Before we start writing, we should think about what we want to achieve with our report. Are we going to ask for the solution to a problem or simply store data so that we can use it later? Do we want to reflect a scientific investigation or make a complaint? We have to take this into account when selecting the type of report that is most relevant in each case.

2. Consider the type of text you are going to use

Not all reports are the same, and each may have its own distinctive characteristics. For example, an expository report will reflect data without making any kind of interpretation regarding them, and there is no possibility of making conclusions , while a demonstrative report will require the subject to elaborate hypotheses and test them in order to obtain a series of results and conclusions.

3. See the target

Not only does it matter for what or how, but one should think about which audience our report is aimed at . This will allow us to adapt the level of language to our needs and those of this audience.

4. Selection and analysis of information

Depending on the previous step, it is essential to gather the information we want to provide and structure it properly so that our discourse has a common thread. We must also take into account the type of data to be reflected and who or how the information has been extracted .

5. We can use graphic elements

Although it depends on the type of report, it is possible to use visual elements that facilitate the understanding of the data . We are referring for example to the use of bar charts to analyse frequencies or to carry out a profit and cost analysis.

6. Title

Although it may seem silly to mention it, correctly titling the report in a clear way, relative to the subject matter involved and easily understandable is something that makes it much easier for readers to understand.

7. Write the introduction

In this first section of the report in question we will make a brief summary of the subject to be dealt with in the report . In it, the objective of the realization of this report and the problem that generates the need for its existence and the context in which it is carried out should appear.

8. Expands ideas and explains research in development

In the body of the report we will arrange and expand the information about the event or investigation , making clear the methods and actions that show how the situation occurred or performed and the way to obtain the data. If it is a report that reflects an investigation, aspects such as theoretical models and exploration of the situation will be incorporated.

9. Draw a conclusion

The last part of the report should reflect the final result of what was explored and reflected in the report or the demand or request that is made in order to resolve the situation. It should be clear and understandable.

10. Language to be used

It is essential that language is clear and concise throughout the writing. It must be written formally and objectively, in the third person and in a passive voice. The facts must be separated from the inferences made (if any) and the data being dealt with must be offered directly and it must be clearly explained why they are relevant.

Bibliographic references:

  • Bunge, M. (1975). Theory and reality. Barcelona. Ariel.
  • Quine, W.V. (1998). From encouragement to science. Barcelona. Ariel.
  • Russell, B. (1959). Human knowledge: its scope and limitations. Madrid. Taurus.