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Report writing

Expert guidance from Study Advice at the University of Reading

Reports are a very common genre of writing at university across many subjects, including the sciences, business and professional degrees, because they are an effective way of communicating information.

Unlike essays, reports usually have a formal structure broken down into sections and sub-sections. Depending on your subject, you may be asked to write reports that have a pre-defined structure (such as a lab report) or reports in which you define and name the sections (such as some business reports). Whatever structure your report has, its main aim is to order and communicate the relevant information in an easily navigable way.

As reports are an informative genre of writing, they usually have a specific purpose and an intended audience who has reasons for reading the report. The audience (even if it is just your lecturer) will expect the information to be ordered in a certain way and each section to be written appropriately in order to play its role in communicating that information. This is why it is important to check any guidance you have been given on the structure and content of your report and to put the right information in the right sections. The advice in this guide will help you understand the features, structures and writing styles of reports.