A report is similar to an essay in that both need:

  1. formal style
  2. introduction, body and conclusion (although they might be named differently)
  3. critical analytical thinking
  4. careful proof-reading and neat presentation

Presentation and style:

  1. allow generous spacing between the elements of your report
  2. use subheadings to guide the reader
  3. use bullet points/ numbers/ letters to organise the elements
  4. use tables and figures (graphs, illustrations, maps etc) for clarification
  5. number each page
  6. use consistent and appropriate formatting
  7. use clear, formal language

Also avoid:

  1. using careless, inaccurate, or irrelevant information
  2. muddle – try to clarify your ideas, talk it through first and make a plan
  3. careless presentation and proof-reading – get someone else to check with you
  4. too much emphasis on appearance and not enough on content

A Report

An Essay

Presents information

Presents an argument

Can be scanned quickly by the reader to find information

Is meant to be read carefully from beginning to end

Uses numbered headings and sub-headings. It is important to know what sections are required and what information they should contain.

Rarely uses headings

Usually needs references and bibliography/reference list (check your brief!)

Always needs references and bibliography/reference list

Uses short, concise paragraphs and bullet points where applicable

Links ideas into cohesive paragraphs, rather than breaking them down into a list of bullet points

Usually written for the audience established in the topic (eg client, manager) but in reality your lecturer is also the audience

Written for the lecturer

Uses graphics wherever possible (tables, graphs, illustrations)

Rarely uses graphics

May be followed by appendices

Seldom has appendices