Report Writing Workshop
Template for an informal Workshop for UNISON members and active members
|Title and Description:REPORT WRITING|
Participants will be able to set out information in a logical order using everyday language to produce a simple easy to read report
|Timing Suggestions: Circle the most appropriate from the list below
|Suggested event at which to run the workshop: Circle the most appropriate from the list below
branch development day, √
|Activities and Facilitator Notes:
The module will be an introduction to the art of putting together an easy to read report
Checklists on headings to include (bog standard items) and the usual order they appear in the document
Totor led discussion on Style and language issues
Practice activity around ordering information
Practice activity about using short sentences and everyday language
Practice activity – summarise this
Participants will be asked to read a handout precourse and bring with them to the module ideas for actual reports they have to produce in real life
A report is a presentation of facts and findings, usually as a basis for recommendations; written for a specific readership, and probably intended to be kept as a record.
In general, a good report is one that you don’t need to reread, it is clear and the information that it contains is easy to find way.
Most people who read reports on a regular basis want the information in a clear easy to read format, that will give them the information or facts they need and can then be stored for reference.
Everyone will have their own individual style, if a report is required in a rigid style there will be a pro forma, otherwise it is a matter of sticking to some simple rules and writing in your own style.
To be completely successful, a report which makes recommendations must ensure that the persons for whom the report is intended:
- Read it without unnecessary delay.
- Understand everything in it without undue effort.
- Accept the facts, findings, conclusions and recommendations.
- Decide to take the action recommended.
Achieving this demands more of you than merely presenting relevant facts accurately. It also demands that you communicate in a way that is both acceptable and intelligible to the readers.
Careful choice of words can enable you to convey many subtleties of meaning.
Check that everything you write is factually accurate. The facts should be capable of being verified. Moreover, arguments should be soundly based and your reasoning should be logical.
Generally a report should not be an essay reflecting personal emotions and opinions. You must look at all sides of a problem with an open mind before stating your conclusions. However depending on your audience you may know you can be less formal.
Making it clear that you have an open mind when writing your report will, in most cases, make your conclusions and recommendations more acceptable to your readers.
Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). That is how Julius Caesar reported his visit to our shores. While none of your reports will be as short as this, you should aim to keep them concise. In doing this, do not mistake brevity for conciseness. A report may be brief because it omits important information. A concise report, on the other hand, is short but still contains all the essential details.
To ensure you do not include material which can safely be left out, you should not ask: ‘Can this information be included?’ Rather, you should ask: ‘Is it necessary for this information to be included?’
Clarity and Consistency
The best way to achieve clarity in your writing is to allow some time to elapse between the first draft and its revision. Try to leave it over the weekend, or at least overnight. If you are really under pressure and this is simply not possible, at least leave it over a lunch or coffee break. It is essential to have a period of time, no matter how short, when you can think of other things. In this way, when you come back to the report, you can look at it with a degree of objectivity.
Usually, if your writing is selective, accurate, objective, concise, clear and consistent, it will also be as simple as it can be. You should guard against over-simplifying, for example to the point of missing out information which the reader needs to fully understand what you are trying to say. You should again keep your readers firmly in mind and keep asking yourself whether or not they will be able to follow the logic of your presentation.
Avoid Pointless Words
Some words and phrases – like basically, actually, undoubtedly, each and every one and during the course of our investigation - keep cropping up in reports. Yet they add nothing to the message and often can be removed without changing the meaning or the tone. Try leaving them out of your writing. You will find your sentences survive, succeed and may even flourish without them.
Checklist for Report Writing
- Think about the audience – who is it aimed at? What do they need to know?
- What are you trying to achieve? i.e. persuade, inform, get agreement etc.
- Meaningful title
- Contents page
- Executive Summary (1-2 pages maximum) containing main points of evidence, recommendations and outcomes
- Introduction – have clear aims & objectives or state this report will seek to answer the question of…
- Background to issue
- Highlight what issues will impact on members, branch, region etc.
- New information
- Recommendations (pros and cons of each)
- Action points allotted to individuals
- Outcomes or recommendations
- Task allocation or a plan of action
- Use easy to read wording, keep it short & concise
- Explain jargon or have a glossary at the end
- Include illustrations, pictures, tables or graphs to break up the text
- Include examples, case studies or quotations
- Feedback how and to whom
- Font size, style and colour
- Bullet points
- Include links to further information
- Other information
- Use Headings and subheadings
- Web address
- Date in the footer or header
- Contact details