Report writing: Formal
There are many different types of reports. This information is a basic outline only. Before you
attempt to write a report, you should check the particular requirements for the subject.
A formal report should have the following arrangement.
1. TITLE PAGE — The Title Page must include the subject of the report, who the report is for, who
the report is by and the date of submission.
2. ABSTRACT — An Abstract is usually 100 to 200 words and should include the following:
• why the report has been written (i.e. what question or problem is it addressing?)
• how the study was undertaken
• what the main findings were
• what the significance of the findings is.
Be specific and precise so that the reader can get a good understanding of the main points without
having to read the whole report.
The abstract should be on a separate page with the centred heading ABSTRACT in capitals. It is
usually written in a single paragraph with no indentation.
3. TABLE OF CONTENTS — The Table of Contents should be on a separate page. It helps the
reader to find specific information and indicates how the information has been organised and what
topics are covered. The table of contents should also include a list of figures and a list of tables
if any are used in the report.
4. INTRODUCTION — The Introduction has three main components.
1. The Background which describes events leading up to the existing situation, what
projects have been done previously, and why the project or study is necessary.
2. The Purpose which defines what the project or study is to achieve, who
authorised it and the specific terms of reference.
3. The Scope which outlines any limitations imposed on the project such as cost,
5. BODY — The Body varies according to the type of report. Basically, it answers the questions —
Who? Why? Where? When? What? How? In an investigative report, it would consist of all the
information required to convince the reader that the conclusions and recommendations are
valid/reliable. This information must be presented in a systematic way.
6. CONCLUSION — The Conclusion should be as brief as possible. They should be presented in
descending order of importance and should not suggest action. Conclusions should be free from
speculation (i.e. ideas for which you have presented no evidence), have no new thoughts or
references introduced and contain no further discussion of points raised.
7. RECOMMENDATIONS — The Recommendations should follow naturally from the conclusions.
They should be offered in descending order of importance and may be in point form when several
recommendations are being made.
8. REFERENCES — The list of References is an accurate listing, in strict alphabetical order, of all
the sources referred to.