Rules & Guidelines for Writing a Report


There are a wide range of reports that you may be called on to write. But whether it is a student or employee progress report, a police incident report, a quarterly sales report, or countless other types of reports, a few universal rules apply for summarizing an event or accomplishment. As with any piece of strong writing, it is important for the report to be clear and concise. According to Management Study Guide (Reference 1), it also is important not to lose sight of the intended audience at any point in the writing process.


  • A standard report has an introduction that states the main idea. The body of the report should state other key facts with a detailed explanation for each. The last section of text can include an explanation of why an action was taken or note what action should be taken. The end of the report can include appendices with charts or graphics that list and compare numbers, so the flow of the text sections don't choke the reader with too many numbers.

Details and examples

  • In a police report, the officer may note that the suspect smashed the main picture window with a brick, rather than just writing that the suspect entered the building illegally. Likewise, an architect's report on the structural integrity of a building should note if the roof is rotted and bricks are falling into the street, rather than just saying the structure in unsafe. It is important to answer the "why" questions, and to explain by showing, not just telling.


  • Even experts in their respective industry need sources, even if they are internal. Lawyers cite existing case law and police attribute information to witnesses and penal law that affirms the suspect's alleged acts are illegal. Newspaper reporters quote the person they interview and use official documents like budgets and government statistics rather than guessing the numbers on their own. A company report would include sales figures from various locations and cite information provided by regional managers. A medical report would cite results from clinical studies and test groups. If there are no sources or references, then the report is fiction.

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