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How do I Use a Report Format When Writing Assignments for School?


Writing reports is a fact of life for students, but it does not have to be difficult. If you approach report writing in the right way, you will learn how to quickly and easily organize your information and produce a well-researched report. No matter what subject you are writing about, the same five steps can apply. As you progress in school, you may learn to add more steps or follow more specific format directives.

Outline your ideas on paper. Purdue University's Online Writing Lab recommends brainstorming, organizing your ideas into one major argument, arranging supporting ideas in a logical order and then labeling them. These labels will help you organize your report in the proper format as you write your paper. Leave room under each label to add notes as you work.

Organize your research based on your outline. Try to have at least three facts to support each of your supporting ideas. If there are any gaps in your research, you will quickly notice the blank spots. You can use library catalogs and indexes to find books and magazines that might address these gaps. Nimitz Library suggests taking these steps first because you will get stronger evidence than if you just went to the Internet. You will also need to keep a record of the bibliographic information of your sources.

Write an introductory paragraph. Even in a report format, you should include an attention-grabbing statement at the beginning that will encourage your reader to take an interest. This paragraph must end with a thesis statement. A thesis statement states your major argument and outlines what you will discuss or how you support this argument, according to Red Rocks Community College.

Begin each body paragraph with a topic sentence. Topic sentences, according to Red Rocks Community College, introduce the point that will be discussed within that paragraph. There should be one body paragraph for each of your supporting ideas. You can use transition phrases to help smooth the jump between one paragraph and the next. These can be added to the topic sentence or to the last sentence of the preceding body paragraph. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, supporting evidence -- your research -- and a connection to the major argument of your paper.

Finish your report with a conclusion paragraph. This paragraph sums up the proof you have offered in the preceding body paragraphs and restates your main idea. You should not introduce any new evidence in this paragraph. On a final piece of paper at the end of the report, you need to include your bibliography or list of works cited in the paper. This is important because it establishes credibility for the proof you have offered and gives credit to the people who have contributed ideas to your paper.

Proofread your paper as the final step in ensuring you have followed the proper report format. Check for grammar and spelling errors, but also make sure each paragraph is dedicated to one supporting idea and that each supporting idea is connected to your main argument. One tip recommended by LR Communication Systems is to read your paper out loud -- you will naturally trip up on clumsy transitions or unrelated ideas.

Tip
  • You can get better results if you finish your paper early and put it aside for a few hours. Come back with fresh eyes, or have a friend read the paper for consistency and flow. A few tweaks at this point can make a letter-grade difference.
Warning
  • Keep each of your paragraphs focused on the main point outlined for that paragraph. Don't forget to add the bibliography, in the proper format -- depending on the instructor's directions -- to the final copy.
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About the Author

Wendy Strain's professional career started in 2000 with small community newspapers in Texas. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, education and graphic arts from Texas Wesleyan University and Westwood College, plus independent study in many areas. The ideas she’s discovered through her non-fiction work is reflected in her works of fantasy and fiction.

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