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Academic Communication


Report writing


The skill of report writing

Report writing is one type of academic writing which is not confined to university. You will find that most professional and graduate employers expect report writing skills.

Your report’s format will be determined by subject, module, or course requirements. For example, engineering students write technical reports, science students write lab reports, and business students write reports on case studies.

One type of formal report which many students will write at some point is the dissertation. A dissertation is a type of report, written about a research project. For more information on writing dissertations, see our topic ‘Writing a dissertation’.

Some students find writing reports more straightforward than other types of academic writing. This is because the purpose of a report is usually to summarise and explain a task or other previous work. In these cases, the quality of the report will depend on the earlier effort put in. For example, a report on a group assignment will be much easier to write if proper records of group meetings and tasks completed have been kept.

Features of reports

A report is:

  • A structured document with headed sections
  • Usually written in impersonal, formal English.

Longer reports will have numbered headings, a table of contents and, where necessary, appendices. A report differs from other types of academic writing in that it will be more factual and less argumentative. You need to show that you are capable of analysing a situation, evaluating it, and making recommendations.