Principles and Structure of Reports

UNIT-6 [ Lesson-2: Principles and Structure of Reports ]

After reading this lesson you will be able to:

  • apply the principles in writing reports
  • structure your reports under the rules of good communications i.e.,
    having an introduction-body-conclusion structure.

Principles and Structure of Reports

Your value to any organisation depends on how efficiently you can communicate what you know. All good reports result form the planning, drafting and revising decisions that collectively make up the writing process. The readers hate waste and demand efficiency i.e., they want just as much as they need-and no more than they need.

They want that every detail in the report should serve a useful purpose; every sentence and word should carry its own weight, advancing the writer’s meaning. So to make it efficient every report must conform to the principles of communications: accuracy, brevity and clarity.

 

Principles and Structure of Reports

 

A. Accuracy- All information provided in the report must be checked and double checked to ensure its accuracy. All the factual information must be based on evidence to support your facts. For example, when there is likely to be disagreement or doubt on the part of the reader, always try to quote the authority for supporting your facts (as witnesses). Where it is necessary to quote an opinion then say, it is an opinion.

B. Brevity- Whenever you write any report, be an informal or formal type, aim for maximum efficiency. Never use six words when two will do. This applies to many phrases in common use that are now regarded as a sign of bad writing.

For instance do not write “I am aware of the fact that” instead of “I know that” or “in this day and age” instead of to day. Give every word credit for its full meaning; it is not necessary to qualify it with other words which means the same thing, for example:

 

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C. Clarity- Clarity is achieved by using the right words, precise words and simple construction of the sentences that the reader will clearly understand. The story or argument should follow a logical sequence which leads the reader naturally to the conclusions or recommendations. For example, if you are writing a sentence like this one:

Imprecise: Push the printer connector into the serial socket.

You are sure to make your readers think “We push a perambulator, we push a chair but do we ever push a printer connector? So give your reader the correct one from below:

Revised: Insert the printer connector into the serial socket.

ACTIVITY-1

What are the principles that you follow in writing a good report? – Explain.

Structure of Reports

Virtually all communications including all oral and written reports should be structured as follows :

i. having an introduction
ii. report text (body) or development
iii. conclusions and recommendation

Principles and Structure of Reports

Introduction

In the introduction of your report you introduce the subject and purpose of the message. Here in fact you make a promise to your readers about what will be said. Sometimes this can be achieved simply by a heading; sometimes it requires more lengthy treatment in the form of a section or paragraphs of its own.

The object is to create a picture in the readers’ mind about the subject or the background of it. Know your readers and give them only what they need. (Example has been shown in the sample short report).

Report Text (Body) or Development

The body section is the heart of your report. It is where you present your evidence and explanations. This being the main part of the report, make sure that you set your points down in logical sequence. Here lies the importance for remaining accurate, simple, and clear is required.

Give your body section an informative title. For a descriptive report you might title the body, “Description and function of parts”. For instructions, “Required Steps.” For a problem solving report “Collected data.” (Example has been shown in the formal short report)

All reports follow the defined rules of communications structure i.e., Introduction-bodyconclusion.

Conclusions

In your conclusion, you in fact tie up the whole information by giving readers a clear perspective on the whole report. When you need to re- emphasise major findings, simply summarise them. Base recommendations directly on the findings and interpretations.

In fact the concluding section of a report has many purposes; it often evaluates the significance of the report, take a position and predict an outcome, offer a solution or suggest further research. (Example has been shown in the short formal report of Unit 7)

ACTIVITY-2

These questions are designed to help you assess how far you have understood and can apply the learning you have accomplished by answering (in written form) the following questions:

1. Name the principles of writing reports and what kind of structure do you follow in writing any report? Just name them.

2. How do you write the conclusion of your report?

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