How to Write a Report: A Guide

Matt Ellis

A report is a nonfiction account that presents and/or summarizes the facts about a particular event, topic, or issue. The idea is that people who are unfamiliar with the subject can find everything they need to know from a good report. 

Reports make it easy to catch someone up to speed on a subject, but actually writing a report is anything but easy. So to help you understand what to do, below we present a little report of our own, all about report writing. 

Communicate with confidence Grammarly helps you write the way you intend Write with Grammarly

What is a report? 

In technical terms, the definition of a report is pretty vague: any account, spoken or written, of the matters concerning a particular topic. This could refer to anything from a courtroom testimony to a grade schooler’s book report. 

Really, when people talk about “reports,” they’re usually referring to official documents outlining the facts of a topic, typically written by an expert on the subject or someone assigned to investigate it. There are different types of reports, explained in the next section, but they mostly fit this description. 

What kind of information is shared in reports? Although all facts are welcome, reports, in particular, tend to feature these types of content: 

Reports are closely related to essay writing , although there are some clear distinctions. While both rely on facts, essays add the personal opinions and arguments of the authors. Reports typically stick only to the facts, although they may include some of the author’s interpretation of these facts, most likely in the conclusion. 

Moreover, reports are heavily organized, commonly with tables of contents and copious headings and subheadings. This makes it easier for readers to scan reports for the information they’re looking for. Essays, on the other hand, are meant to be read start to finish, not browsed for specific insights. 

Types of reports

There are a few different types of reports, depending on the purpose and to whom you present your report. Here’s a quick list of the common types of reports:

Reports can be further divided into categories based on how they are written. For example, a report could be formal or informal, short or long, and internal or external. In business, a vertical report shares information with people on different levels of the hierarchy (i.e., people who work above you and below you), while a lateral report is for people on the author’s same level, but in different departments. 

There are as many types of reports as there are writing styles, but in this guide, we focus on academic reports, which tend to be formal and informational. 

>>Read More: What Is Academic Writing?

What is the structure of a report?

The structure of a report depends on the type of report and the requirements of the assignment. While reports can use their own unique structure, most follow this basic template:

If you’re familiar with how to write a research paper , you’ll notice that report writing follows the same introduction-body-conclusion structure, sometimes adding an executive summary. Reports usually have their own additional requirements as well, such as title pages and tables of content, which we explain in the next section. 

What should be included in a report?

There are no firm requirements for what’s included in a report. Every school, company, laboratory, task manager, and teacher can make their own format, depending on their unique needs. In general, though, be on the lookout for these particular requirements—they tend to crop up a lot: 

As always, refer to the assignment for the specific guidelines on each of these. The people who read the report should tell you which style guides or formatting they require. 

How to write a report in 7 steps

Now let’s get into the specifics of how to write a report. Follow the seven steps on report writing below to take you from an idea to a completed paper. 

1 Choose a topic based on the assignment

Before you start writing, you need to pick the topic of your report. Often, the topic is assigned for you, as with most business reports, or predetermined by the nature of your work, as with scientific reports. If that’s the case, you can ignore this step and move on. 

If you’re in charge of choosing your own topic, as with a lot of academic reports, then this is one of the most important steps in the whole writing process. Try to pick a topic that fits these two criteria: 

Of course, don’t forget the instructions of the assignment, including length, so keep those in the back of your head when deciding. 

2 Conduct research

With business and scientific reports, the research is usually your own or provided by the company—although there’s still plenty of digging for external sources in both. 

For academic papers, you’re largely on your own for research, unless you’re required to use class materials. That’s one of the reasons why choosing the right topic is so crucial; you won’t go far if the topic you picked doesn’t have enough available research. 

The key is to search only for reputable sources: official documents, other reports, research papers, case studies, books from respected authors, etc. Feel free to use research cited in other similar reports. You can often find a lot of information online through search engines, but a quick trip to the library can also help in a pinch. 

3 Write a thesis statement

Before you go any further, write a thesis statement to help you conceptualize the main theme of your report. Just like the topic sentence of a paragraph, the thesis statement summarizes the main point of your writing, in this case, the report. 

Once you’ve collected enough research, you should notice some trends and patterns in the information. If these patterns all infer or lead up to a bigger, overarching point, that’s your thesis statement. 

For example, if you were writing a report on the wages of fast-food employees, your thesis might be something like, “Although wages used to be commensurate with living expenses, after years of stagnation they are no longer adequate.” From there, the rest of your report will elaborate on that thesis, with ample evidence and supporting arguments. 

It’s good to include your thesis statement in both the executive summary and introduction of your report, but you still want to figure it out early so you know which direction to go when you work on your outline next. 

4 Prepare an outline

Writing an outline is recommended for all kinds of writing, but it’s especially useful for reports given their emphasis on organization. Because reports are often separated by headings and subheadings, a solid outline makes sure you stay on track while writing without missing anything. 

Really, you should start thinking about your outline during the research phase, when you start to notice patterns and trends. If you’re stuck, try making a list of all the key points, details, and evidence you want to mention. See if you can fit them into general and specific categories, which you can turn into headings and subheadings respectively. 

5 Write a rough draft

Actually writing the rough draft , or first draft, is usually the most time-consuming step. Here’s where you take all the information from your research and put it into words. To avoid getting overwhelmed, simply follow your outline step by step to make sure you don’t accidentally leave out anything. 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; that’s the number one rule for writing a rough draft. Expecting your first draft to be perfect adds a lot of pressure. Instead, write in a natural and relaxed way, and worry about the specific details like word choice and correcting mistakes later. That’s what the last two steps are for, anyway. 

6 Revise and edit your report

Once your rough draft is finished, it’s time to go back and start fixing the mistakes you ignored the first time around. (Before you dive right back in, though, it helps to sleep on it to start editing fresh, or at least take a small break to unwind from writing the rough draft.) 

We recommend first rereading your report for any major issues, such as cutting or moving around entire sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes you’ll find your data doesn’t line up, or that you misinterpreted a key piece of evidence. This is the right time to fix the “big picture” mistakes and rewrite any longer sections as needed. 

If you’re unfamiliar with what to look for when editing, you can read our previous guide with some more advanced self-editing tips . 

7 Proofread and check for mistakes

Last, it pays to go over your report one final time, just to optimize your wording and check for grammatical or spelling mistakes. In the previous step you checked for “big picture” mistakes, but here you’re looking for specific, even nitpicky problems. 

A writing assistant like Grammarly flags those issues for you. Grammarly’s free version points out any spelling and grammatical mistakes while you write, with suggestions to improve your writing that you can apply with just one click. The Premium version offers even more advanced features, such as tone adjustments and word choice recommendations for taking your writing to the next level. 

good report writing format

How to Write a Report

Last Updated: January 8, 2023 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Amy Bobinger . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 42 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 8,530,235 times.

When you’re assigned to write a report, it can seem like an intimidating process. Fortunately, if you pay close attention to the report prompt, choose a subject you like, and give yourself plenty of time to research your topic, you might actually find that it’s not so bad. After you gather your research and organize it into an outline, all that’s left is to write out your paragraphs and proofread your paper before you hand it in!

Sample Reports

good report writing format

Selecting Your Topic

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Tip: Always get approval from your teacher or boss on the topic you choose before you start working on the report!

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Researching the Report

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Tip: Writing a report can take longer than you think! Don't put off your research until the last minute , or it will be obvious that you didn't put much effort into the assignment.

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Tip: It can help to create your outline on a computer in case you change your mind as you’re moving information around.

Writing the First Draft

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Tip: Assume that your reader knows little to nothing about the subject. Support your facts with plenty of details and include definitions if you use technical terms or jargon in the paper.

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Revising Your Report

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Tip: If you have time before the deadline, set the report aside for a few days . Then, come back and read it again. This can help you catch errors you might otherwise have missed.

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Expert Q&A

Emily Listmann, MA

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About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

It can seem really hard to write a report, but it will be easier if you choose an original topic that you're passionate about. Once you've got your topic, do some research on it at the library and online, using reputable sources like encyclopedias, scholarly journals, and government websites. Use your research write a thesis statement that sums up the focus of your paper, then organize your notes into an outline that supports that thesis statement. Finally, expand that outline into paragraph form. Read on for tips from our Education co-author on how to format your report! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Report (2023 Guide & Free Templates)

You have a report due in a few days, but you’re still procrastinating like a pro.

Sounds familiar?

If you’ve been staring at a blank page, wondering how to write a report the best way possible, you’re not alone. For many, writing a report, especially for the first time, can feel like rolling a giant boulder uphill.

The good news is that from a first draft to creating reports that people love to read is a skill you can develop and polish over time.

Whether you’re a student, a professional, or someone who wants to up their report-writing game, keep reading for a 2023 guide and step-by-step instructions on how to write a report. Plus, learn about the basic report format.

You’ll also get access to report templates that you can edit and customize immediately and learn about a tool to make reports online (no need to download software!). 

What is report writing?

Report writing is a way of communicating information, data, insight, or analysis. It’s an essential skill that will come in handy in various settings, from academic research or diving into historical events to business meetings.

But creating a report can be a bit intimidating at first.

In its simplest form, report writing starts with researching and gathering all the information, analyzing your findings, and presenting it in a way that’s easy for your audience to understand.

Sounds easy enough, right? 

Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. We’ll guide you through every step of the process to write an entire report from a rough draft and data in the next section. 

But first, let’s get to know the different types of reports.

Types of reports

Reports come in all shapes and sizes, and the type of report you write will depend on your specific goals and audience. Each type of report has its unique purpose, format, and style.

financial review report, how to write a report

The most common types of reports are: 

Learn more : 20 Types of Reports and When to Use Them (Plus Templates)

How to write a report without feeling overwhelmed

Breaking down the report writing process into three stages can make it much more manageable for you, especially if it’s your first time to create one. 

These three stages are: 

Let’s take a look at the steps for each stage and how to write a good report in 2023 that you can be proud of.

Stage 1: Pre-writing 

The pre-writing stage is all about preparation. Take some time to gather your thoughts and organize your main idea. Write a summary first.

Here are important steps to help you deal with the overwhelm of creating an insightful report. 

Understand the purpose of your report

Knowing your purpose will help you focus and stay on track throughout the process. Dig into the why of your report through these questions:

Research your topic

It’s time to gather as much information as you can about your topic. This might involve reading books, articles, and other reports. You might also need to conduct interviews with subject matter experts.

Pro tip on how to write a report : Pick reputable sources like research papers, recently-published books, and case studies by trustworthy authors. 

Make a report outline

An outline is a roadmap for your report. It covers your title, introduction, thesis statement, main points, and conclusion. Organizing your thoughts this way will help you keep focus and ensure you cover all the necessary information.

example of a business report outline

While you can create a report without creating an outline, you could write a better report with an outline. An outline helps you organize your facts and important points on paper. 

Stage 2: Writing

Once you have completed the pre-writing stage, it’s time to write your report. 

Follow the proper report writing format

You will feel a lot of resistance at this point because this is where most of the tedious work of report writing happens. However, the process can be a breeze if you follow a proper structure and report writing format.

The structure of your report can vary depending on the type of report you’re creating, but the report writing format below can serve as a guide for anyone.

With all these key report elements, your readers can look forward to an informative, well-organized, and easy-to-read report.

Pro tips: Remember to use clear and concise language in your essay. It is also required to follow a specific type of formatting set by your organization or instructor.

Plus, use the active voice when you can because it helps improve clarity. To write a report essay in a passive voice makes it sound less concise.

Reports should usually be written in the third person.

Edit and proofread the article

Once you have completed your first essay draft, take some time to edit and proofread your work. Look for spelling mistakes and grammar errors, as well as any areas where the flow of your article could be improved. Review your topic sentence.

If hiring a professional editor isn’t possible, have a colleague or someone else read your rough draft and provide feedback. You can also use tools like Grammarly and the Hemingway App . 

Stage 3: Post-writing

You’re almost there! This stage is about finalizing your report and ensuring it is ready to be shared. 

Format your report

Ensure your report is formatted correctly, with clear and easy-to-read fonts, headings, and subheadings.

Incorporate visuals

Adding visuals to your report article is another great way to help your audience understand complex information more easily.

From charts to illustrations, the right visual can help highlight and explain key points, events, trends, and patterns in your data, making it easier for the reader to interpret the information.

an example of a report that uses visuals effectively, written report

However, it’s important to use visuals sparingly and ensure they are relevant and effectively support the texts. You will learn more about effectively incorporating visuals into your report as you scroll down below to the next sections. 

Share your report

Once your report is complete, share it with your audience. This might involve submitting it to your boss, presenting it to a group, or sharing it online.

A final note for this section: Remember to take your time, stay organized, and most importantly, have fun! Writing a report can be a rewarding experience, especially if you get positive feedback when you present.

How to add visuals to your report

Adding visuals to your report is more than just putting a graph or chart for every piece of information.

There are no hard and fast rules but use the pointers below as guidelines:

a report about customer satisfaction results with graphs, charts, and icons

Learn more : How to Improve Your Data Visualization Design in 6 Steps 

Write reports like a pro with Piktochart’s easy-to-edit report templates

Creating reports from scratch can be time-consuming. The great news is you don’t have to make reports from scratch like how it used to be in the 90s and early 2000s. Organizations of all shapes and sizes now understand that you can also create the perfect report with the help of templates.

For example, Piktochart offers a variety of fully customizable templates, allowing you to easily add your branding, colors, and text within the online editor. You can visualize your thesis statement and first draft in less than an hour. It’s also possible to start writing directly in the tool, adding graphics page by page.

These templates range from reports for school presentations to sales reports. By editing them, you can create professional-looking reports without the hassle of formatting and design.

Here are some examples of Piktochart’s professionally-designed templates. If you can’t pick one that matches your report writing format and needs, create a free Piktochart account to get access to more templates. 

Survey report template 

This survey report template includes clear visualizations, making your report findings easier to understand. From customer surveys to employee satisfaction reports, this template is quite versatile. 

an employee satisfaction survey report template by Piktochart

Research report template 

This research report template is perfect for anyone looking to create a thorough and professional research report. The template includes all the necessary sections to help you easily organize your research and present your findings in a concise document.

research report template by Piktochart

Corporate report template 

Looking for a corporate report template example with an editable table of contents and foreword? This template is the perfect fit!

Whether you’re presenting to investors or sharing information with your team, this corporate report template will help you create a polished and informative executive summary for any corporate organization.

corporate report template by Piktochart

Case study report template

Whether you’re conducting a business case study or an academic case study, this case study report template can help you earn your readers’ trust. This template is specifically designed with fashion as its main theme, but you can edit the photos and details to make it more on-brand with your niche.

case study report template

Marketing report template

Use this template to create comprehensive marketing reports. The template includes editable sections for social media, data from search engines, email marketing, and paid ads. 

monthly marketing report template by Piktochart

Financial report template 

With this customizable finance report template, you don’t need to make a financial report from scratch. Once you’ve written your content, save your report in PDF or PNG formats.

finance report template by Piktochart

Annual report template 

This annual report template is the right template for creating a professional and informative executive summary of your organization’s performance over the past year. This template was designed for HR annual reports, but you can also repurpose it for other types of yearly reports. 

annual review template by Piktochart showing how to write a report

See more report templates by creating a free Piktochart account . 

Quick checklist for better report writing

Before you submit or present your report, use the quick checklist below to help ensure that your report is well-structured, accurate, clear, and properly cited. Most of all, you must ensure that your report meets your audience’s expectations and has all the information and details they need. 

Purpose and audience

Structure and organization

Accuracy and analysis

Writing style and clarity

Acknowledgment and citation


Make engaging and effective reports quickly with Piktochart

Writing a report is a must-have skill for anyone looking to communicate more effectively in their personal and professional lives. 

With the steps we’ve provided in this guide, anyone can learn how to write a report that is informative, engaging, and comprehensive.

Plus, the free templates we highlighted are valuable for individuals looking to create reports quickly and efficiently. They can also be used to transform a longer report filled with texts into something more engaging and easy to digest.

Sign up for a free Piktochart account today, and look forward to writing reports with its library of modern, customizable report templates. 


Kyjean Tomboc is an experienced content marketer for healthcare, design, and SaaS brands. She also manages content (like a digital librarian of sorts). She lives for mountain trips, lap swimming, books, and cats.

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Report Writing

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Report Writing

The term “report” refers to a nonfiction work that presents and/or paraphrases the facts on a specific occasion, subject, or problem. The notion is that a good report will contain all the information that someone who is not familiar with the subject needs to know. Reports make it simple to bring someone up to speed on a subject, but actually writing a report is far from simple. This blog will walk you through the fundamentals of report writing, including the structure and practice themes.

This Blog Includes:

What is a report, reporting formats, newspaper or magazine reports, business reports, technical reports, what is report writing, report writing: things to keep in mind, structure of report writing, magazine vs newspaper report writing format, report writing format for class 10th to 12th, report writing example, report writing for school students: practice questions, report writing slideshare.

Also Read: Message Writing

A report is a short document written for a particular purpose or audience. It usually sets out and analyses a problem often recommended for future purposes. Requirements for the precise form of the report depend on the department and organization. Technically, a report is defined as “any account, verbal or written, of the matters pertaining to a given topic.” This could be used to describe anything, from a witness’s evidence in court to a student’s book report.

Actually, when people use the word “report,” they usually mean official documents that lay out the details of a subject. These documents are typically written by an authority on the subject or someone who has been tasked with conducting research on it. Although there are other forms of reports, which are discussed in the following section, they primarily fulfil this definition.

What information does reporting contain? All facts are appreciated, but reports, in particular, frequently contain the following kinds of information:

Although there are some fundamental differences, producing reports and essays share many similarities. Both rely on facts, but essays also include the authors’ personal viewpoints and justifications. Reports normally stick to the facts only, however they could include some of the author’s interpretation in the conclusion.

Reports are also quite well ordered, frequently with tables of contents of headers and subheadings. This makes it simpler for readers to quickly scan reports for the data they need. Essays, on the other hand, should be read from beginning to end rather than being perused for particular information.

Depending on the objective and audience for your report, there are a few distinct types of reports. The most typical report types are listed briefly below:

Depending on how they are written, reports can be further categorised. A report, for instance, could be professional or casual, brief or lengthy, and internal or external. A lateral report is for persons on the author’s level but in separate departments, whereas a vertical report is for those on the author’s level but with different levels of the hierarchy (i.e., people who work above you and below you).

Report formats can be as varied as writing styles, but in this manual, we’ll concentrate on academic reports, which are often formal and informational.

Major Types of Reports

While the most common type of reports corresponds to the ones we read in newspapers and magazines, there are other kinds of reports that are curated for business or research purposes. Here are the major forms of report writing which you must know about:

The main purpose of newspaper or magazine reports is to cover a particular event or happening. They generally elaborate upon the 4Ws and 1H, i.e. What, Where, When, Why, and How. The key elements of newspaper or magazine report writing are as follows:

Here is an example of a news report:

Credit: Pinterest

Business reports aim to analyze a situation or case study by implementing business theories and suggest improvements accordingly. In business report writing, you must adhere to a formal style of writing and these reports are usually lengthier than news reports since they aim to assess a particular issue in detail and provide solutions. The basic structure of business reports include:

The main purpose of the technical report is to provide an empirical explanation of research-based material. Technical report writing is generally carried out by a researcher for scientific journals or product development and presentation, etc. A technical report mainly contains 

Must Read: IELTS Writing Tips

A report is a written record of what you’ve seen, heard, done, or looked into. It is a well-organized and methodical presentation of facts and results from an event that has already occurred. Reports are a sort of written assessment that is used to determine what you have learned through your reading, study, or experience, as well as to provide you hands-on experience with a crucial skill that is often used in the business.

Before writing a report, there are certain things you must know to ensure that you draft a precise and structured report, and these points to remember are listed below:

Must Read: IELTS Sample Letters

The format of a report is determined by the kind of report it is and the assignment’s requirements. While reports can have their own particular format, the majority use the following general framework:

Report Writing Formats

It is quintessential to follow a proper format in report writing to provide it with a compact structure. Business reports and technical reports don’t have a uniform structure and are generally based on the topic or content they are elaborating on. Let’s have a look at the proper format of report writing generally for news and magazines and the key elements you must add in a news report:

To Read: How to Learn Spoken English?

The report writing structure for students in grades 10 and 12 is as follows.


Credit: SlideShare

Now that you are familiar with all the formats of report writing, here are some questions that you can practice to understand the structure and style of writing a report.

Also Read: Formal Letter Format, Types & Samples

Credits: Slideshare

Report Writ ing in 7 steps

Make sure that every piece of information you have supplied is pertinent. Remember to double-check your grammar, spelling, tenses, and the person you are writing in. A final inspection against any structural criteria is also important. You have appropriately and completely referenced for an academic work. Check to make sure you haven’t unintentionally, purposefully, or both duplicated something without giving credit.

Any business professional’s toolkit must include business reports. Therefore, how can you create a thorough business report? You must first confirm that you are familiar with the responses to the following three questions.

Every company report starts with an issue that needs to be fixed. This could be something straightforward, like figuring out a better way to organise procuring office supplies, or it could be a more challenging issue, like putting in place a brand-new, multimillion-dollar computer system.

You must therefore compile the data you intend to include in your report. How do you do this? If you’ve never conducted in-depth research before, it can be quite a daunting task, so discovering the most efficient techniques is a real plus.

Hopefully, this blog has helped you with a comprehensive understanding of report writing and its essential components. Aiming to pursue a degree in Writing? Sign up for an e-meeting with our experts at Leverage Edu and we will help you in selecting the best course and university as well as sorting the admission process to ensure that you get successfully shortlisted.

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Ankita Mishra

A writer with more than 10 years of experience, including 5 years in a newsroom, Ankita takes great pleasure in helping students via study abroad news updates about universities and visa policies. When not busy working you can find her creating memes and discussing social issues with her colleagues.

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How to Create Professional Reports and Documents in Microsoft Word

This guide examines the elements of a professional report and reviews the structuring, styling, and finalizing of your document in Microsoft Word.

If Microsoft Office had been a country, it would have been the third most populous country in the world. 1.2 billion people using a single suite of apps is mind-boggling. And, they "speak" 107 languages!

But right now, you and I are speaking in English and we are going to talk about the most popular tool in the Microsoft Office arsenal -- Microsoft Word 2016 .

This document editor is used for writing a variety of documents. From a simple application to the necessary resume. From a plain bucket list to an office memo. We think we can work with Word. But it is when we sit down to write a serious professional report, we discover an important fact.

Professional report writing needs a different set of skills.

So, ask yourself this -- can you make the leap from a single document to a lengthy report? Do you know all the Microsoft Word features that will help manage this large scale document project? Can you collaborate on the work with other team members?

You may be a student, a small business owner, or an office will need to create a report or a professionally formatted document of some kind. This MakeUseOf guide will help you update your techniques and sharpen your design approach.

In this guide:

Writing a Report -- Introduction | The Report Checklist

Useful Microsoft Word Tools -- Paste Special | Researcher | Freeze Parts of Your Document

Work on the Layout & Design -- Intro | Cover Page | Table of Contents | Header and Footer | Page Numbers | Font Styling | Paragraph Styling | Page Breaks | Styles and Themes | Captions | Quick Parts | Page Borders

References and Collaboration -- Index | Bibliographies | Cross-Referencing | Comments

Finalize Your report -- Signatures | Watermarks | Read Only | Print to PDF

The Next Step -- Conclusion

Writing a Report

Report writing involves research and then publishing the outcome of that analysis. In the professional world, the "look" or appearance of what you publish is paramount. The eye-pleasing final result could burnish your reputation and enhance your personal brand.

The steps below will handhold you through the expert features in Microsoft Word 2016. Spend a lot of time on a plan. Start with these guidelines…

Step 1: Decide the Purpose

Before you begin the report, you must first know why you are writing it in the first place. Reports are of many kinds but they are either meant to inform or persuade. It can be meant for describing a technical process, sharing background information, or demonstrate progress on a project.

Ask yourself – What and Why . This will help you distill the purpose to the one main point and stick to it instead of rambling on with unnecessary details.

Step 2: Identify Your Audience

The second important consideration is to evaluate your audience. Will they be able to understand what you are talking about? Are there different levels of readers who will read the report? The reader's knowledge of the subject will greatly influence the information that you need to include.

Decide on the primary audience and then script the report at the adequate technical level. The secondary audience can be supported with supplemental information at the end of the report.

Step 3: Know Your Topic

You must know what you are talking about. So, research the topic, and include all the relevant information to prove your point. Make sure that you come to a conclusion based on facts and not personal opinion. The information must be correct, current, and well-referenced.

Also use a variety of resources such as journals, newspaper articles, books, websites, brochures, raw data, annual reports, and speeches to help support your point. Just don't stick to Wikipedia.

Step 4: Outline the Report

You have done the research. There's a ton of information that is waiting to be typed and printed. But wait! Don't drown before you enter the water. Prepare the final outline of the report which will be the chart of waypoints to help you navigate from start to finish. The outline is the blueprint. It will give you a bird's eye view of the land and also show you where you need to fill in the details.

The structure of an idea report can include the following elements:

Microsoft Word's Document Outline is a powerful feature that can help you organize a document even before you start filling it with research. Take advantage of brainstorming and mind-mapping templates too.

Step 5: Write, Edit, Proofread, and Finish

Once you have structured your report, it is time to fill out the headers with content. I personally find it best to tackle a little bit of each section, and then bulk it up with information. You can do that if you want, or finish each section as you go down the report structure. Make sure you focus on presenting your ideas and using supportive evidence rather than spelling and grammar first. Outline your argument and write a few sentences that cast your main ideas. If you find something worth quoting, quote it.

Once the majority of your text is written, it is now time to read through it and make sure it flows well. Make sure you guide the reader's understanding with transition words such as "This information shows…", "In other words…", "Similarly…" and do highlight relevant and key points.

Finally, spend time to proofread, check for grammar and spelling , and double-check all relevant information and its logical flow. It is best to leave at least one day to check and proofread your work. Don't try to edit it straight after you think you have finished, as you will tend to miss read what you have written. Get some sleep, and proofread it the next day.

The Report Checklist

Before you go and submit or hand in your report that you have worked so hard on, make sure you have done the following:

Now, let's launch Microsoft Word and take you through the features that will help piece together the draft of your report and present it as a professional document.

Useful Microsoft Word Features for Report Writing

Take these as bite-sized tips and master them one by one.

Microsoft Word is a big howitzer with many nuts and bolts. Let's focus on the key skill sets and the tools you will need to plan, prepare, and present the professional report. The Microsoft Word features we will cover below are also productivity shortcuts that will make your job easier.

Tip: Use Microsoft Word 2016's "Tell Me" assistant to learn more about new features in the Office suite.

Let's start with three preliminary tools...

Use Paste Special

For most of us, when we need to copy text or an image into Word, the CTRL+V shortcut does just fine. But sometimes we might want to paste the copied data into another format, such as Excel data as an image. With the Paste Special command you can discard or specify the format when you paste a picture, presentation data, table, or object from any other program into Word.

You will work a lot with Excel tables and charts in a professional document.

If you just copy what you want and click paste, you will notice that it will insert the data as tables. But, if it is a large area of cells you want to paste, and you do not want to edit it, you may want to paste it as an image, with the extra option to edit it.

In Microsoft Excel: Select and highlight the cells that you want to copy > Press CTRL+C.

In Microsoft Word: Go to Home > Paste > Paste Special . Select Paste Special and from the dialog select Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet Object .

You can resize the data as it was an image, and if you double click, you will be able to edit the values. You can change the table or chart and redesign it. And, if you update the data in the chart or table in Excel, you can automatically refresh the chart in Word.

Try the right-click context menu too. The Paste Special menu pops up:

There are more options to import data from Excel into Word . The Microsoft Office Support page also describes them in detail.

Use the Researcher

Yes, there is Google and Wikipedia. But constantly switching from Word to your browser can hamper your productivity. Office 2016 brings in powerful research integration to this grunt work. The Researcher can not only help you find content from within Microsoft Word but also help you quickly add citations. It uses the Bing Knowledge Graph to find the right content to support your document.

Go to Ribbon > References tab and c Choose Researcher . A pane will open on the right with the search options.

Type a keyword for the topic want to search for and press Enter.

The Results pane shows a list of sources you can use in your document. Choose a topic to explore in detail.

Add the topic to your Microsoft Word document with a click on the plus sign on the top-right. You can also click the plus sign on any result to cite the source in your research document. The cite source helps you support your research with web sources and books.

As we will see later, an annotated bibliography is one of the toughest parts of a document. The Researcher is an intelligent assistant who steps in.

Freeze Part of Your Word Document

Let's take for granted that your professional report will be a long and complex work. You can split the Word window into two panes so that you can view two different parts of a document at the same time. It is a valuable time saver when you want to copy and paste parts from one place to another or refer to one part of the document while working in another.

Go to Ribbon > View tab > Split .

To remove the split, click on Remove Split in the same tab.

The Windows group gives you several options to change the way you work with two or more documents. The features are self-explanatory.

To scroll both documents at the same time, click Synchronous Scrolling in the Window group on the View tab. You can also click on View Side by Side to put two parts of the document next to each other.

Tip: Use Split View to display two different layouts – for instance, Print and Outline. Set the split. Then, click in the pane that you want to change, and then select a different layout on the View tab.

Work on the Layout & Design

The presentation of a report is what gets someone to read a report in the first place, and that is why it is crucial that your report is well presented. If you had the choice of four reports to read, what will you choose?

You will pick up the fourth report because it will pull you towards it by the visual appearance alone.

The front cover is not the only reason. A well-designed report is easier to read. It is also easier to scan when you don't have time to read. That is why you need to spend some time on your headers and footers, and the different styles and themes. In short – the formatting of every element in the report.

Formatting may seem like a difficult chore, but it is a fun exercise that will exercise all your creative muscles. The key takeaways will be the skills you can apply to anything in Microsoft Office going forward. And the time you will save with all the productivity tips learned here.

Microsoft Word 2016 has a wealthy set of features. These are only some of the ways that your report design can stand out from the rest and be professional. So, let's break down the layout and design skills.

This section will cover these features step-by-step:

(Format the Content)

1. Start With a Cover Page

The first page is the first point of contact with your reader. It is also your opportunity to make a favorable impression. Don't let your lack of artistic skills be an excuse because Word takes up the job with its in-built gallery of title pages. All you have to do is marry one to the theme of the report.

Microsoft Word 2016 offers you 16 pre-formatted templates and three more on

Go to Insert > Pages Group > Cover Page .

The cover page appears at the beginning of the document by default.

As there are only 16 "official" templates on offer, you may find that all your other peers have the same cover page. So, why not customize it, and make it a bit more unique.

You can design a title page (or cover page) in Microsoft Word that can be an original in the stack. Save it as a template or easily change the design on the fly.

2. Make a Table of Contents

Casual readers scan. Good readers scan first and then dive deep. A table of contents provides the waypoints that help both. When it is a long and complicated document, wouldn't you rather check the lay of the land before you head to the section that interests you?

Consider a Table of Contents (TOC) if your document is more than 10 pages long. You should first make sure you don't need to rearrange any pages in your document before creating the TOC.

In Microsoft Word, you don't have to write the entire TOC by hand. There's a Table of Contents automatic tool under the References tab which takes your outline and designs it for you. Also, you can easily keep it updated when you want to change something.

There are also templates you can download and fit it around the nature of the content. For instance, a TOC for a thesis will look different from that of a company's annual report.

We have a complete tutorial on how to create a table of contents page in Word .

The gist of it is this:

Create the outline and use heading styles to organize the hierarchy. Apply the automatic TOC tool to the heading styles. Word 2016 searches for those headings and then inserts the table of contents into your document. Then you can automatically update your TOC if you make changes in your document.

For more hands-on control, you can also use the Manual Table of Contents style. Word inserts placeholder text and you have to insert and format each content in the list.

3. Create Your Header and Footer

Headers and Footers are important in reports as the main purpose is to provide information about the report on every page. They are the common display areas for page numbers. The header of the document should contain the title of the report, and possibly the name of who created it. The title of the current section is helpful.

The footer, on the other hand, should include the page numbers, date of publication, and other administrative information that is required. Do note that some style guides have special guidelines for headers and footers .

Let's start with the header in your document and give it a unique look.

Select Insert , then select either Header or Footer from the group. The built-in gallery shows you several options you can choose from.

The header and footer space is inserted in your document with placeholder text or table. The Header & Footer Tools opens on the Ribbon for other formatting work like the date, time, or picture.

Enter your text and then select Close Header and Footer .

You can start with a blank header and footer. If you have the design skills, use the Header & Footer Tools to design your own. Master the header and footer space if you want to create custom letterheads for your organization. You can use brand elements like company or organization logos at the top and neatly formatted footnotes at the bottom

Let's try with and modify one of the inbuilt headers. I selected Facet from the gallery.

The final look took two minutes to put together with simple text effects and an icon sourced from the Microsoft Office icon gallery.

The header and footer are in place. But, how do you know where you are in the document? Insert page numbers as the next important signpost.

4. Add Page Numbers

Page numbers look best in the footer (unlike in the header as in the image above). You can add a basic page number from the Insert > Page Number button on the Ribbon. You can also add it from the Design tab that appears when you add the header and the footer.

You have a lot of control over page numbers. Choose from a wide range of number formats and customize them to your needs. In this case, we are adding the number to the footer, but you can put them at the top or even at the margins. In this example, I have placed the page number at the bottom left. But, I would like to change the default look and the format.

For example: Using a "Page X of XXX" makes for a better indicator on a long document.

Select the page number. Go to Insert > Quick Parts . From the drop-down menu, select Field . You can also reach the Field dialog from the Header and Footer Design tab.

Choose NumPages from the long list of field names. From the box on the right, you can pick a specific format. I selected the usual 1, 2, 3. Click OK , and the number of the number of pages will appear. Now all you have to do is add your text such as Page X of XXX, and change the look of the numbers with the usual text formatting tools available from the Home tab.

It now looks like this:

Design the look on any page number in your document and Word updates all the remaining automatically. Page numbers are the most common elements in a footer, but it can also hold any other information like the header. From the options in the Insert group, you can add the date and time, document info, pictures, and more to your header or footer.

Next, we're heading into formatting the content.

The visual draw of your professional report comes together with the "beautification" you apply to the content. Formatting is also an essential step for a document that flows well. So, you must focus a lot of energy on picking the right font, paragraph space, and the colors.

Don't worry. Even, the artistically challenged will find this part easy because Microsoft Word comes packaged with default themes and visual styles. Let's start with the most basic element of a document.

5. Pick and Style the Right Font

Your choice of font in a professional Word report not only determines how the text stands out but also how it is printed. You want both for maximum impact.

You can apply a typeface (i.e. the visual look of the font) to either an entire document or to specific parts of a document. All font choices are available from the Home tab. Go to Home > Font .

The default font in Microsoft Word 2016 is Calibri. Look beyond that as you have lots of others to choose from. If you choose Times New Roman, you may be considered lazy, if you choose Windings, well… I don't think I need to explain that. So make sure you choose a font that is easy to read and suits the report. To play it safe, pick from one of these professional-looking Google fonts ; they're available for free.

Tip: Baskerville and Georgia are good alternatives to the over-used Times New Roman

Try different font pairing for the body text and Headings (and Subheadings). Several websites like FontJoy and TypeWolf will help you experiment with font pairings. You can download and use custom fonts too. But remember the thumb-rule -- never use more than three different typefaces in a document.

For that extra bit of pizazz, try a drop cap to enhance your text .

6. Style the Paragraphs

If you want to have your lines double spaced, or single spaced, you need to change the format of the paragraphs. By changing the spacing, you can make a document easier to read or give the impression that it is longer and that you have put more work into it.

To change the paragraph for the whole document, it is best that you select each block of text; otherwise, if you are using headers in your report, they will change too. Another better option is if you customize the particular style you are using to format the paragraph.

To do this, go to Home > Styles . Right click on the style you want to change and select Modify . Click on Format > Paragraph which is at the bottom of the dialog box. Now, change the spacing, indentation, and alignment for the paragraph. Click OK to close the dialogs.

When you want to change a smaller portion of the document , select what you want to change. Right click on the highlighted text and select Paragraph . The same dialog box as above will appear.

7. Control Page Breaks

A page break -- by its very name -- splits a continuous block of text across two pages. Page breaks are important structural elements for long documents. Word automatically inserts a page break at the end of the page. But in a long document, you can place page breaks where you want them.

To insert a manual page break, click Insert > Page Break. (Keyboard shortcut: CTRL + Enter)

A page break looks like this when you click on the Show/Hide command in the Paragraph group .

But what if you want to keep a bunch of lines together on a page or column and not have them separate because of a page break? The layout is in your control. Click the tiny arrow you see in the bottom right of the Paragraph group.

In the Paragraph box, click Line and Page Breaks. Select from these four pagination options:

We've also shown how to remove page breaks when necessary.

8. Use Styles and Themes

Styles and themes are perhaps two of the more underused features in Microsoft Word . But I think you should use them at every opportunity to save a lot of time.

But what is the difference between a theme and a style? Microsoft says:

Themes provide a quick way to change the overall color and fonts. If you want to change text formatting quickly, Word Styles are the most effective tools.

So, as themes control the general look with color, effects, and fonts – start with a good theme for your document first. Then , use Styles to dig into the specific portions you want to change the appearance for.

For Themes: Go to the Design tab. Pick a theme from the gallery. You can see previews of what the color combination is like.

For Styles: Select the part of the text you want to change. Go to the Styles group on the Home tab. You can see previews of what they look like. Choose the Style that is suitable for your content. For instance, choose a heading style for the headings in your document. Or, a particular style for any quotes. You can also modify an existing style and create new styles from scratch.

9. Captions

Every picture, chart, or illustration needs a caption to clearly describe it. It is a single line of text, usually located below a graphic. Captions are also an important reference when you need to mention them in another place. Many documents omit this small detail.

It is easy to add a caption. Right-click the illustration you want to add a caption to. Select Add Caption .

In the dialog box, add your caption text and configure the remaining options. Captions can be automatically referenced in Word.

10. Use Quick Parts

Professional documents can get repetitive. This is why you should start using Quick Parts for boilerplate content you reuse all the time. For instance, let's say there is a contract clause you include with every document. Or, some introductory information. Instead of repeated copy-paste, save them as Quick Parts and re-use them again and again.

Quick Parts is also a type of building block . You can see the gallery of all reusable blocks of content in the Building Block Organizer .

Save and reuse your own Quick Parts in two steps:

Just as easily, you can re-use the saved snippet of content.

Place your cursor where you want to insert a selection from the Quick Parts Gallery. Go to Insert > Text group > Quick Parts . Then click the sentence, phrase, or other saved selection you want to reuse.

You will notice three other categories in the Quick Parts menu.

AutoText: Word 2016 has retained the old AutoText feature. It works like Quick Parts for any block of text that you use a great deal. Example: A note you want to use with every document.

Document Property: A set of constant properties that you can include with every document. Example: Company name or author.

Fields: These are predefined elements that update automatically. Example: Date, time, page numbers etc.

Remember, entries for document property can sometimes include information you wouldn't want to share with everyone. So, keep a close eye on these fields and remove the hidden personal data whenever required.

11. Decorate With Page Borders

Page borders look good not only on flyers and invitations. If done right, they can add a touch of class to a document. A variety of line styles and widths and art borders are available from the Design menu on the Ribbon.

Go to Design > Page Borders.

In the Borders and Shading box, use the Page Border tab to design your border.

The settings are self-explanatory. Try Shadow or 3-D with the right colors to add a subtle but elegant border. The Art styles with their clip-art borders might be too garish for professional documents.

Use the four corner buttons in the Preview window to select the sides of the page to draw borders. Click these buttons to remove or add borders, as you wish.

Place the cursor on the first page of a document if you want to put a border around only the first page. You can also put borders around certain pages in a section. Place the cursor in the section — either in the first page of that section or in a subsequent page.

References and Collaboration

A Word report can seem like an unmanageable chore. It's like organizing a million piles of hay into neat little stacks. The idea is to know precisely which stack has the pin you are looking for. These features are meant to make it easier.

1. Create an Index

When writing large documents such as a report that contains a lot of information, a contents page may not be enough. An Index should appear at the end of the document, with page numbers to keywords and information in the report. Create an index to help the reader reference the right information with just the page number.

Make an index if your document has more than 20 pages. Microsoft Word 2016 doesn't let the process overwhelm you. It basically has two parts:

You can scroll through the finished document and mark the words or phrases you want to include in the index or mark them as you go along. Either way, select the text you'd like to use as an index entry or click where you want to insert the entry.

1. Click References > Mark Entry .

2. Edit the text in the Mark Index Entry dialog box. You can also add a sub-entry which further defines the main word you used in the index. You can add multiple levels and each appears indented under the main entry.

3. Under Options , you can also create a cross-reference to another main entry. A reader can use this to refer related information elsewhere in the same document.

4. Use the Page number format to decide on the appearance of the page numbers in the index.

5. Click Mark to mark the index entry. To mark this text everywhere it shows up in the document, click Mark All .

6. Repeat the process for all the words and phrases you want to include in the index.

You have now built your index. Insert it at the right place towards the end of the document.

1. Click on the page where you want to insert the index.

2. Click References > Insert Index .

3. The Index dialog box is displayed. Here you can choose to format the text entries, page numbers, tabs, and leader characters.

4. Choose the appearance from the different formats in the list and check the Preview window on the right. Remember, the Preview window doesn't show you actual index. It is just a "simulation" of how it will look like.

5. Click OK . Your Index is now ready.

Sometimes, you may need to add more entries to the index after you have inserted it on the page. Mark the entry and go to References > Update index to include the new mentions.

Also, add a heading for the index because Word doesn't do it automatically.

2. Creating Bibliographies

Your document is almost done. Now, you need to credit all the other research work and ideas which you have referenced in your document. It's time for a bibliography.

A company report might not need a bibliography but an academic paper isn't finished without one. The bibliography is one of the most painstaking jobs in an academic report. You need to have all your citations in order before you sit down to frame the bibliography. Also, decide on the citation style (typically MLA, APA , or Chicago-style ) as per the guidelines of your subject.

Don't hesitate to take advantage of third-party citation and bibliography generators for constructing this section.

But, Microsoft Word 2016 has a complete toolset to make this process as painless as possible. So, go to the point in the document where you would like to place the bibliography. It's good if you have at least one citation to include, but even if you don't, Word 2016 lets you use a placeholder citation and fill in the sources later.

Click References > Bibliography .

Word offers a few bibliography styles that differ only in their heading names. Choose the appropriate style and then insert citations from the button in the Citations & Bibliography group .

The bibliography tool has a few steps to it. For the sake of brevity, I will direct you to the excellent Microsoft Office help page which is a step-by-step guide.

Some academic papers will ask you to create an annotated bibliography . It is a more fleshed out version of a bibliography with a list of citations to journals, books, articles, and other documents followed by a brief paragraph. The paragraph is a description of the source and how it supports your paper.

3. Cross-Referencing

You can use a cross-reference to help the reader navigate through a long document. At any point in a document, you can tell the reader to refer back to a heading, page number, image, chart, footnote, endnote, and paragraph. A cross-reference link is a neat way to connect related information together. The reader just has to click on the link to go that snippet of information.

Here's how you begin:

1. Select the place for the cross-reference and type the text that tells the reader about it. For instance: "Refer to Chart 3 for future trends."

2. Go to Insert > Cross-reference .

3. In the Reference type box, click the drop-down list to select what you want to link to.

4. The options in the Insert Reference to drop-down will change according to your choice above.

5. In the For Which field, go through the choices and tell Word the exact information to link to.

6. Check the Insert as hyperlink box to create the hyperlink for the referenced information.

7. Click on Insert to include the cross-reference in the document.

Remember, our mention of captions? You can make cross-references to equations, figures, graphs, and tables if you used captions below them.

Word cannot create a cross-reference for something that does not exist. Word will let you know about these errors and also update the cross-references automatically when you change the page number or text of the referenced item.

4. Using Comments

A professional report can be a solitary job or you can take the help of a team to prepare the first draft. The humble Comment is one of the most underused tools of a Word document. It is displayed as a rectangular colored balloon in the margin or in the Reviewing Pane.

You can use comments as small "stickies" or self-notes. Leave little notes to yourself in the margins as you write, edit, and revise your way through a report or a manuscript. Be creative – add extra links to other resources, use them for tips and pointers, link to different parts of a document, or set up a feedback link for your readers. And when you finalize, you can easily remove all comments in Word .

Microsoft Word 2016 is also an enhanced collaborative writing tool. Comments play a huge role in communicating feedback across a team. Here's how the comment system works...

1. Highlight the text you want to add a comment to or click at the end of a text block.

2. Go to Insert > Comment . Type your comment in the box. The comments appear in the markup area on the right. The Print Layout view is usually the best way to see the comments alongside the text.

3. Go to the Review tab and see more options for comments. This tab also shows all the controls for tracking changes and comments in a collaborative document. Use the Markup options to display or hide the comments. For instance: No Markup will hide the comments and the markup area on the right.

Finalize Your Report

Once the bulk of your report is completed and saved, it is time to finalize your report. When I say finalize, I don't mean proofread it. That should be done too. Now, you have to take the security measures to protect the report from unauthorized changes and plagiarism.

These security measures will give an extra level of authenticity to your electronic file before you share it.

This section will cover:

1. Signatures

You can add text signature for a personal touch to the report. But a simple text signature does not need any authentication. A digital signature is the better way to protect your document from unauthorized access. A digital signature confirms that the document came from the signer and hasn't been tampered in any way.

Let's create a signature line in Microsoft Word 2016.

In the document, place your cursor where you want to create a signature line.

1. Go to Insert > Text group > Signature Line and click Microsoft Office Signature Line .

2. The Signature Setup dialog box is displayed. Fill the fields as indicated. If you are sending the document to someone else for signing, add instructions for the signer in the field reserved for it ( Instructions to the signer ). The signer can also add give the purpose for the signing if the Allow the signer to add comments in the Sign dialog box is checked.

3. Click on OK and the document will now display a placeholder for the signature.

Enter a signature:

When you need to sign a document with a digital signature, go to the signature line and right-click on it.

You will be prompted to sign with a digital ID. If you don't have one, Microsoft will tell you to get one from a signature service partner.

If you don't have a digital ID, you can just insert a textual representation of a signature line . You can use a written signature or an image that doesn't require authentication.

2. Insert Watermarks

A Microsoft Word watermark is a "fake" but still useful visual indicator for the status of the document. For instance, you can use a watermark that says "Drafts" to differentiate it from the final version of the document. Or, use the watermark to suggest the document is "Copyrighted" or "Confidential".

The "Draft" mark is the most common. But, Microsoft Word gives you several other watermarks to choose from.

1. Go to Design > Page Background and choose Watermark . The Watermark button will be enabled in the Print view only.

2. You can choose a picture or a text watermark from the gallery. Both horizontal and diagonal versions are available. The dialog box gives you all the customization options for the final look of the watermark. Try different fonts, layouts, sizes, and colors.

3. You can type your own text in the Text field to create your custom watermark.

4. Choose OK to apply the watermark to your document. Word automatically applies the watermark to every page except the title page.

3. Make Documents "Read Only"

A professional report by its nature should not need to be edited by its readers. Converting the document to a PDF is one way. But, you can also apply a few more restrictions in Microsoft Word and prevent accidental modification or omission of any kind.

There are three ways to protect a document.

First -- Make your document "read only".

This ensures that your document can only be read or copied. It won't prevent anyone from copying the file and making changes to the copy.

1. Go to the File tab > Info > Protect Document > Mark as Final.

2. When readers open a document, a bar on top will prompt readers to treat this document as read only. But, they can click on "Edit Anyway" to open the document in Edit mode.

Second -- Password Protect Your Document.

Protect your document from unwanted edits with a password barrier.

1. Under Protect Document , choose Encrypt with Password . Type a password and click OK .

2. In the Confirm Password box, type the password again, and then click OK . The document will open with the reader prompted for a password.

Microsoft uses the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), 128-bit key length, SHA1 (a cryptographic hashing algorithm which generates an almost unique 160-bit key to replace the plaintext), and CBC (cipher block chaining) to give a hacker a well-deserved headache.

Third -- Restrict Editing.

This control feature helps you as the author decide which parts of the document others can edit and which will be locked out. Think of it as the bouncer who lets the VIPs in but otherwise bars the door for the common folk.

1. Go to Review > Restrict Editing .

2. Under Editing restrictions , check Allow only this type of editing in the document , and make sure the list says No changes (Read only) .

No changes (Read only) is the default restriction type. For a different restriction level for the document, click the menu and select from Tracked changes, Comments, or Filling in forms.

3. To free some sections from the editing blockade, select the sections for editing without restrictions. To select more than one area, click CTRL while selecting the area using the mouse.

4. You can check Everyone under Exceptions (optional) in the Restrict Editing panel. Or, click More users … and allow only specific users to modify the sections. The allowable areas will be marked with square brackets.

5. Click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection .

Now, type a unique password in the box that opens. You have to type it again to confirm it.

The password is optional. But it ensures that no one can just click Stop Protection and edit the document. If you are still paranoid, go ahead and encrypt your Microsoft Word document as we did in the second process above.

4. Print Your Report to PDF

The Portable Document Format comes with many advantages. Not least is its cross-platform compatibility across all computers. Your document is ready and now you need to share it or send it across to be printed. Many professional reports -- for instance, a legal document -- need to retain the format as intended.

Save or convert a copy to PDF. Microsoft Word 2016 does not need any third-party add-ins.

Go to File > Export > Create PDF/XPS .

Remember, your Word document may contain sensitive information that you do not want to be included in the PDF. Remove it before you publish to PDF. In the Publish as PDF or XPS window, choose Options . Then select Document and clear Document properties . Set any other options you want and choose OK .

Browse to where you want to save the file and click on Publish .

The Next Step...

You are close to the finishing line. The report is ready to be handed over to your readers. But there's one last job left.

Turn the pages and make sure (again) that your report is reader-friendly. Approach it with the eye of the reader. Have you organized your thoughts and written persuasively? Does the information flow well with the charts and illustrations? Can they skim through and find the information quickly? Is the text readable? Use the readability score to gauge the readability level of your documents as a final step.

You also might have noticed we didn't cover some aspects of Microsoft Word. For instance, Microsoft Word Tables are an important tool for data display. Or, the power of lists in information management.

Microsoft Word is more than a quarter of a century old, and packed with little features. At MakeUseOf, we have covered every nook and cranny of this beast. So, do use our resources to learn more about this software for free. Each new feature of Microsoft Word learned will make your life easier.

Make Your Report Shine

As author Nathaniel Hawthorne said,

Easy reading is damn hard writing

Isn't this true for professional report writing too? After all, if given a choice, no one may want to read it. Writing a business report and using it to communicate are two different things. Microsoft Word is just a tool -- it's your job to engage.

For some alternatives, check out the best online word processors . And for more help with professional writing, take a look at how to apologize in an email and mean it .

What are the best practices for writing professional business reports? Tell us in the comments.

Report Writing Format: Lab & Business Report [Examples + Tips]

All students go through this, sooner or later. Report writing is like an initiation into college. You are not a real student until you squeeze out at least one report.

That’s why we recommend you learn the main report-building rules to save time in the future.

5 Key features of report writing.

These are general principles to know when you have the assignment to write a report. From the aspects mentioned above, you can already feel the character and style of a report.

It is straightforward, clearly structured, and prosperous for facts. Therefore, reports are mostly suitable for business, natural sciences, medicine, and other scientific areas.

Ready to learn more?

Here you can find a detailed explanation of report writing rules, purposes, and structure . Special attention is paid to different types of reports; also, don’t miss excellent tips on report presentation .

Let’s go! 👉 👉

🧱 What Is a Report?

🧪 Lab Report Writing Format

💼 Business Report Writing Format

👩‍🏫 report presentation.

Simply put, a report is a statement . It is a proposition/analysis that informs the audience about a particular subject.

Report - a description of an event or situation (by Cambridge Dictionary).

One detail that we would add to the Cambridge definition – a report can also describe an issue or an object.

Depending on a research area and subject, the content of a report varies, and so does its nature. However, regardless of your topic, a report should represent some information based on collected and analyzed data. That is, while working on a report, pay very distinct attention to the evidence that supports your words.

Here are the crucial features of any report:

This list is only the beginning of what we are going to tell you further.

Let’s see what the essential requirements of report writing format are.

Challenges of Building a Report

Before you start writing your report assignment, it is constructive to figure out what its challenges are.

These are the aspects that a good report should meet—all of them.

Report Writing Challenges.

Types of Report Writing

All reports have standard features like rigorous structurization, the importance of valid data, and intense language formality.

Now let’s figure out the classification of types of reports. This section will review some main types of report writing, their peculiarities, and aspects requiring special attention.

A lab report is a description of an experiment or any other kind of laboratory work that you have conducted. Therefore, the purpose of a lab report is to tell what, how, and why you have done it. Also, a lab report requires describing findings and their significance thoroughly.

Be able to explain all the terms you use in work, all the procedures, and results. An excellent understanding of the topic is necessary for a successful report.

Business Report

A business report serves as a company tool to help in decision-making processes. There are various types of business reports used for different purposes. For example:

and other…

Research Report

A research report can be written on any subject. Many classes will require you to write a report on a research project you’ve conducted. Your main goal is to make it clear and comprehensive so that a reader understands each step.

Book Report

Unlike a book review, a book report centers on the overall summary: the plot, characters, main thoughts of a book, etc. That is to say, a book report is a brief retelling that refers to the key points and characters. Accordingly, a book report structure differs a lot from a research or business report structure, but about that later.

📑 The Content Outline of a Report

As we already mentioned, it is hard to create one universal outline for all types of reports. They all vary according to their logic and individual requirements. However, it is still possible to draw a list of points vital for a good report.

One thing that is 100% universal – rich, fruitful academic language. Lucky you! We have a fantastic compilation of analytical words & phrases for any purpose. Don’t hesitate to borrow some cool writing ideas from our article.

let’s see what a common content outline of a report is.

Title Page of a Report

Main parts: header with the short title of the report or your last name, depending on the citation style; the full title of the report, your name.

Tips and tricks:

Main parts: a research question and main research findings; research methods used; conclusions and recommendations.

Table of Contents in a Report

Main parts: headings and subheadings with their corresponding pages.

Report Introduction

Main parts: background information, research question (or hypothesis), and significance of the chosen problem.

Main Body of a Report

Main parts: literature review, methodology, research findings, discussion, and limitations.

Main parts: a brief summary of all previous elements.

References in a Report

Main parts : all the sources used in your research (for text references, images, or tables).

Main parts : tables, graphs, pictures, questionnaires, etc.

Basic Report Outline.

As already mentioned before, in a lab report, you need to describe every detail step-by-step. A good lab report consists of a thorough description of research goals, methods, procedures, findings, and results.

A lab report is mostly used in natural sciences, for example, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, etc.

Below are parts of a lab report you should consider.

These were the parts most likely to be required for your lab report.

Remember that if you follow thorough guidelines and do everything step-by-step, chances for success are way higher.

Now let’s quickly see lab reports on different subjects. What are their specificities?

🧲 Physics Lab Report Writing Format

The above-described structure is suitable for a physics lab report format . Your main goal in this piece of paper is to demonstrate how well you understand every step of work and its results.

To make your job easier, here is a great checklist. Go through these questions several times while writing a physics lab report.

These questions will help you a lot in deciding what to include or exclude in your work.

We have only left to show you excellent examples of a physics lab report format, and we wish you luck!

Check out these:

⚗ ️ Chemistry Lab Report Writing Format

Frankly speaking, there’s no significant difference in chemistry and physics lab report formats. The outline is the same, goal and logic as well.

For a fantastic guide to a chemistry lab report format, check the following sources:

A business report is a flexible format that varies according to the purpose. With the help of business reports, people exchange information and make decisions. Thus, it is essential to be very careful with everything you include in your business report.

A significant difference from other types of reports is that in a business report, you can deviate from formal academic language. It means that the primary factor in business report writing is the audience—your language and style change by who your listeners are. However, don’t take it as a total freestyle, a report is a report, and you must follow the rules.

For wholesome guidelines on a business report outline, here are some good sources:

Another distinctive feature of a business report is its intention to persuade. Unlike the chemistry lab report format, the business paper provides active recommendations. Suggesting a new method or alternative strategy, a business report states why its solutions deserve attention.

We recommend you read this business report prepared by Southwest Texas State University students. Inside, you can find an effective structurization, relevant data, and sufficient interpretation of the findings.

Business Report Examples

We have compiled a list of business report examples to help you get an idea of how such papers might look:

Once your report is written, you might be asked to present it. Let’s quickly go through the primary rules of how to make an excellent report presentation.

The more you talk, the more mistakes you make.

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. (Albert Einstein).

If you manage to make a really good hook, your listeners will think about it throughout the speech and maybe after.

Here are some additional materials that will help you to deal with report presentation preparations:

Done! You are now ready to build a report presentation.

It’s ok if now you feel that report writing is almost as easy as snapping your fingers

Use the tips above, complete your report as soon as possible, and finally, relax.

Good luck with your report writing 🍀

If you have any questions, post them below in the comments section 👇

Writing an Effective Research Proposal Sample in 3 Steps

How to write a thesis statement: tips & examples.

Report Writing Format Examples

Main Elements of the Standard Report Writing Format


1. Title Section

3. introduction, 5. conclusion, 6. recommendations, 7. appendices, guidelines for writing a report.

typing report 1024x538

Presentation and Style

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Report writing

What is a report and how does it differ from writing an essay? Reports are concise and have a formal structure. They are often used to communicate the results or findings of a project.

Essays by contrast are often used to show a tutor what you think about a topic. They are discursive and the structure can be left to the discretion of the writer.

Who and what is the report for?

Before you write a report, you need to be clear about who you are writing the report for and why the report has been commissioned.

Keep the audience in mind as you write your report, think about what they need to know. For example, the report could be for:

Reports are usually assessed on content, structure, layout, language, and referencing. You should consider the focus of your report, for example:

Language of report writing

Reports use clear and concise language, which can differ considerably from essay writing.

They are often broken down in to sections, which each have their own headings and sub-headings. These sections may include bullet points or numbering as well as more structured sentences. Paragraphs are usually shorter in a report than in an essay.

Both essays and reports are examples of academic writing. You are expected to use grammatically correct sentence structure, vocabulary and punctuation.

Academic writing is formal so you should avoid using apostrophes and contractions such as “it’s” and "couldn't". Instead, use “it is” and “could not”.

Structure and organisation

Reports are much more structured than essays. They are divided in to sections and sub-sections that are formatted using bullet points or numbering.

Report structures do vary among disciplines, but the most common structures include the following:

The title page needs to be informative and descriptive, concisely stating the topic of the report.

Abstract (or Executive Summary in business reports)

The abstract is a brief summary of the context, methods, findings and conclusions of the report. It is intended to give the reader an overview of the report before they continue reading, so it is a good idea to write this section last.

An executive summary should outline the key problem and objectives, and then cover the main findings and key recommendations.

Table of contents

Readers will use this table of contents to identify which sections are most relevant to them. You must make sure your contents page correctly represents the structure of your report.

Take a look at this sample contents page.


In your introduction you should include information about the background to your research, and what its aims and objectives are. You can also refer to the literature in this section; reporting what is already known about your question/topic, and if there are any gaps. Some reports are also expected to include a section called ‘Terms of references’, where you identify who asked for the report, what is covers, and what its limitations are.


If your report involved research activity, you should state what that was, for example you may have interviewed clients, organised some focus groups, or done a literature review. The methodology section should provide an accurate description of the material and procedures used so that others could replicate the experiment you conducted.


The results/findings section should be an objective summary of your findings, which can use tables, graphs, or figures to describe the most important results and trends. You do not need to attempt to provide reasons for your results (this will happen in the discussion section).

In the discussion you are expected to critically evaluate your findings. You may need to re-state what your report was aiming to prove and whether this has been achieved. You should also assess the accuracy and significance of your findings, and show how it fits in the context of previous research.


Your conclusion should summarise the outcomes of your report and make suggestions for further research or action to be taken. You may also need to include a list of specific recommendations as a result of your study.

The references are a list of any sources you have used in your report. Your report should use the standard referencing style preferred by your school or department eg Harvard, Numeric, OSCOLA etc.

You should use appendices to expand on points referred to in the main body of the report. If you only have one item it is an appendix, if you have more than one they are called appendices. You can use appendices to provide backup information, usually data or statistics, but it is important that the information contained is directly relevant to the content of the report.

Appendices can be given alphabetical or numerical headings, for example Appendix A, or Appendix 1. The order they appear at the back of your report is determined by the order that they are mentioned in the body of your report. You should refer to your appendices within the text of your report, for example ‘see Appendix B for a breakdown of the questionnaire results’. Don’t forget to list the appendices in your contents page.

Presentation and layout

Reports are written in several sections and may also include visual data such as figures and tables. The layout and presentation is therefore very important.

Your tutor or your module handbook will state how the report should be presented in terms of font sizes, margins, text alignment etc.

You will need good IT skills to manipulate graphical data and work with columns and tables. If you need to improve these skills, try the following online resources:

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Report writing

8 Report writing tips that will make your report stand out

Report writing is a great way to present information, share research findings, analyze a problem, and recommend a solution. but there are a few rules you must follow if you want to get it right., table of contents, 1. title page  , 2. acknowledgments, 3. reference (optional) , 4. abstract/summary, 5. contents page , 6. introduction , 7. methods/methodology/procedure (optional – if not covered in the introduction) , 8. discussion/main body (the longest part of your report) , 9. outcomes (can also go before the main body of the report) , 10. conclusion , 1. use names and pronouns , 2. present only one idea per sentence, 3. be clear and specific, 4. use straightforward language, 5. stick to verifiable facts. , 6. use more paragraphs, 7. have an active voice, 8. make use of bullet points, last thoughts.

You may be required to write reports at school or as part of your job. These reports can be formal or informal, as well as long or short. The style and vocabulary you use should be determined by who will be reading the report and their level of knowledge or expertise. But regardless of the style you choose, your report should be clear and succinct, with material structured logically into parts, complete with headers and (if necessary) subheadings. So before we get to what makes a good report, let’s look at the format you should use when writing a report.

Format for Report Writing 

Reports address a specific situation. In it, you need to state why it is worthy of research, while also citing other studies on the subject. You will also have to describe your research methods, evaluate the findings, and finally, make conclusions or recommendations. 

Not all reports follow this exact format. Some include more headers, while others omit a few titles. Listed below are the different sections of a report. You may choose to add or delete a section depending on the layout recommended to you. 

But if you are unsure about what format to employ, consult your lecturer (at university) or find out what your company’s recommended layout is. 

This should include the title of your report, your name, the date, and academic information (the name of your course and instructor). 

Be sure to credit any person or piece of work that assisted or provided you with information. These can be colleagues, experts, academics, and even libraries and research papers.


This defines the scope and limitations of your report, as well as your writing goal and audience. 

This contains the objectives (if you don’t include the reference section), main findings, conclusions, and recommendations. It basically shares the most important aspects of your report in a nutshell. 

This section includes all of your steps in report writing. Such as sections and subsections, page references, as well as a list of diagrams or illustrations, and appendices.

Your introduction addresses the reason you are researching the topic, the context and goals of your research, your research methods, and a brief about the outcome. 

This section should include how you conducted your research, including the techniques, equipment, and procedures you employed. 

This section contains the analysis and interpretation of your findings (often linked to a current theory or previous research), which should be divided into headings and subheadings for clarity. You can also include visual information, such as diagrams, illustrations, charts, and so on, in this section. 

Here, you can add your research findings (also presented in tables, etc.), but with no discussion or interpretation of them. 


This section shares your discoveries from the findings – your deductions and the most important revelations from your research report writing. Ideas for improvement, which can also be part of the conclusion section, will be under a subheading called ‘Recommendations,’ in a number-format.

What makes a great a report?

When writing about yourself and others on the scene, use names and pronouns (I, he, she). Avoid clichés like “this officer,” “the above-mentioned person,” and “officials.” Certain people argue that using impersonal terminology ensures objectivity and accuracy, but this is not true. You have the same level of integrity whether you refer to yourself as “I” or as “me.”

Short, simple sentences are easier to read and understand, and they save everyone’s time. They are especially important when someone is reviewing your report writing in preparation for an important business meeting. Furthermore, the longer a sentence is, the more likely it is that you will make an error writing it.

In English, a short sentence and its structure usually begin with a noun, and the grammar is simple. Complicated sentences, on the other hand, necessitate confusing punctuation and invite sentence errors. So try to keep your sentences to a maximum of three commas. If a sentence contains more than three commas, it is likely to be too complicated to read with ease.

Strive for clarity at all times. For example, “contacted” is a broad term. Instead of using it, clarify if you paid the witness a visit, called, or sent an email. So is “residence.” Is it better to use in a house, an apartment, or a mobile home? If yes, do so!

“Since” is more understandable (and easier to write) than “as much as.” Another example is the phrase “pertaining to” which is a fancy (and time-wasting) way of saying “about.” 

Educated guesses, hunches, and other thought processes have no place in report writing. So limit yourself to the facts. In court, a statement like “He was aggressive” will not be accepted. Instead, “Jackson clenched his fists and kicked a chair, which now sits broken” is acceptable. 

Organizing information in groups has two significant advantages- it will make your report more logical, and easier to read and understand at a later stage.

A common misconception is that using the passive voice ensures objectivity and accuracy. However, this is not the case, especially when you’re expressing yourself with clarity. So always use an active voice – it will not only give you room for  objectivity, but also make your report more readable.

bullet points

Bullet style is simply the way you have probably been writing shopping lists your entire life. When recording several pieces of related information, use bullet points as your format. This will make it easier for the reader to comprehend information.

If you have come all the way here, here are a few bonus tips –

Q1. How do I begin writing a report? 

Answer- To start, use the thesis you created and place it at the end of your introductory paragraph. Build your first paragraph around the main purpose of your thesis, and then guide the reader through the report’s main themes. Continue through your outline, transferring the body and conclusion points into a draft. 

Q2. What are the four different types of reports? 

Answer- There are 4 different types: long, short, internal & external.

Q3. What characteristics distinguish a good report? 

Answer- A good report should have the following characteristics: simplicity, clarity, brevity, positivity, punctuation, approach, readability, and accuracy.

Feel free to check out our blog for more such tips.

Happy writing!

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