Report Writing Tips

Once you have a topic and plenty of information, you can use these tips to help you write a great report!

  1. Outline - Start by making an outline of the information you believe you need in your report. It could be things your teacher has told you must be included in your report. It could also be things you find interesting about your particular topic. Remember that an outline is basically just a list of questions that need answers. To help you make your outline, see the Sample Outline for Report Writing.
  2. Take notes - After making your outline, begin to look for the information you need to answer the questions on your outline. Look through all of the information sources you have collected. Use the index in books to look for key words from your outline. Use note cards (index cards) to record your information. Each note card should contain the following:
    1. ONE fact and only ONE fact
    2. Tell which question the fact answers from the outline (example IA, IIB, IIIC, etc…)
    3. The name of the source where the fact was found
    4. Page number where the fact was found

    When you write the notes on your note card make sure to use your words, not the book’s words. This is called paraphrasing. Also, make sure you write only short phrases or facts on your note cards. Don’t use sentences. You will write sentences later in your report. Here is an example of what a note card might look like:

    Capital of Japan=Tokyo
    IA
    Japan in Pictures
    p. 17

    Continue reading and looking for information until you have answered all of the questions on your outline.
  3. Organize - Now it is time to organize your note cards. Put them in order by using the numbers from your outline.
  4. Rough draft - Next you will write your rough draft. Write a paragraph for each main heading and sub-heading of your outline. Don’t worry so much about spelling and punctuation right now; just get your thoughts down on paper. Make sure each paragraph has a topic sentence, good supporting detail sentences, and a concluding sentence. Once you have finished writing your report—READ IT! Does it make sense? Organize all of your paragraphs. Do some paragraphs need to be split apart into two separate paragraphs? Do other paragraphs need to be combined? Does your report need an introductory or concluding paragraph? If you are not sure, you should check with your teacher. Ask someone else to read your report and tell you if it makes sense, or if you left out any important information.
  5. Revise - Revise your report. Add any missing words or ideas. Change words or ideas to make your report more interesting.
  6. Edit - Edit your paper. Correct all spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Look for the following errors:
    • misspelled words
    • capitalization errors
    • run-on sentences
    • sentence fragments
    • punctuation errors
  7. Final copy - After you have corrected all errors, it is time to write or type the final copy of your report. Remember neatness counts! Don't forget to re-read your paper one last time.
  8. Bibliography - You must put together a bibliography to add to your report. A bibliography is a page that lists all of the books, magazine articles, encyclopedias, websites, etc…that you used to find information for your report. A bibliography is written in a special way. See the How to Write a Bibliography page for the correct way to list books and other information sources.
  9. Title page - Most reports have a title page. The title page should include the title of your report, your name, and the date.
  10. Extras - Some reports require pictures, charts, diagrams, or graphs. Make sure to find out if your teacher wants you to include visuals in your report. One place you can download colorful photos and maps is http://www.vgsbooks.com.
  11. Final step - Make sure you have followed each step in writing a report. Gather all of your materials and organize them. Then, turn them into your teacher or share them with your class.
Congratulations, you have completed your report!

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