Harper Adams University Report Writing
About this guide
Frequently, at university, an assignment will require students to produce an answer in the form of a report. Similarly, at work, reports are often used to address a particular issue or to consider the findings of some research.
This guide aims to support students to write good quality, well set out reports and to address some of the frequently asked questions about report writing at Harper Adams University.
This guide contains generic guidelines for writing reports; read the assignment brief carefully and look at departmental guidelines for sector specific formats.
Using the guide
This guide has been divided up into sections to examine all the elements of producing a report . It will consider:
Layout: How to structure a report to include the correct sections
Preparation and Planning: things to consider before starting
Presenting data and illustrations: tables, figures and photos
Writing the report – essential characteristics: Useful tips for writing summaries, introductions, main text and conclusions
Getting it right: looking at the ‘little things’ that trip students up. Addressing FAQs.
Checklist: a simple list to check that everything is in place before hand-in.
So what is a report?
A report addresses a particular subject or issue. It uses information and/or data that may be historic or current or a mixture of both. Within a report there will be description; analysis; and critical evaluation leading to informed conclusions supported by evidence.
How does a report differ from an essay?
“A report is a statement of an investigation or of any matter on which definitive information is required.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2008)
“Essays are an intellectual exploration of a topic involving looking at different arguments and evidence and developing the writer’s perspective.” (PlymouthUniversity, 2011, p1)
To compare reports and essays, look at Table 1 which outlines the main differences between the two styles of presentation