During your time as a student you will be asked to submit different types of assessment tasks. Each of these types has different guidelines. This guide focuses on reports.
Most businesses have a ‘house style’ which describes their preferred style of report format. Kaplan Business School also have a preferred format for their assessment reports. It is described in this guide.
Differences between essays and reports
First it is important to recognise the difference between essays and reports. The table below outlines the main differences.
ESSAYS | REPORTS | Context is academic world: submitted for marks; one of many submitted | Context is world of work: submitted to aid decision making &problem solving, will attract compliments, criticism or both; usually only one submitted | Summary not often included | Summary usually given, mentioning key conclusions & recommendations | Recommendations not usually made | Recommendations usually made- suggest specific course of action report reader may choose to take | Paragraphs tend to be longerSections and subsections not often numberedBullet points not often used | Paragraphs tend to be shorterSections & subsections often numbered; clear signposts to structureBullet points sometimes used | Opinions are often expressed throughout | Opinions tend to be reserved for conclusions & recommendations | Style may be impersonal & objective, or personal and subjective | Style tends to be impersonal and objective | Referencing may be extensive; secondary data tend to predominate | Referencing usually light; primary data may be used as much as secondary data | Usually individual authorship | Often collective authorship | Usually does not lead to a spoken presentation | Can often lead to oral presentation |
There are three stages to report completion * Planning * Writing * Editing
Planning the report
The planning stage of a long report is very time-consuming, but is critical to writing an effective document.
Seven steps in planning a report are: * Define the problem and purpose – carefully review the assessment question and decide whether the report is to give information or to persuade the reader * Consider the reader – sometimes the reader is the Subject Lecturer but, in other cases, the Lecturer will describe the readership which may, for example, be a emanager or a board of directors * Determine the ideas to include – brainstorm ideas on the main points that should be included * Collect the information – this is the research phase of the planning where keywords from your ideas will be used in the search for articles and textbooks * Sort and evaluate the information – be critical and only use credible, current resources * Organise the information – determine the most logical structure to present the information. * Prepare the outline – provide headings with a brief summary of the content under each heading
Writing the report
These parts should be included in the report.
1. Letter of transmittal
This is a covering letter which ‘transmits’ the report to the person who requested it. Below is a sample letter of transmittal.
Dear Mr Wang
Enclosed is the report you commissioned on 12 May 2013 on the financial viability of the new software system. The main findings of the report are:
* that the new software will require upgrades of the hardware; * that the staff will require additional training; * that productivity of the accounts department will increase 4% in the 12 months after installation.
It should be considered that the sales executive of the software company, Ms Dianne Evers, was unavailable for consultation throughout the period in which this report was being researched, so her input should be sought before any further decisions are made. I would like to acknowledge the assistance of the IT…