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Writing Structurally Coeherent Reports

Any report, as any other form of communication, must

  • first inform the reader of the purpose of the report followed by an outline,
  • if necessary, an overview of the required background material,
  • the documentation itself, and
  • appropriate summaries, conclusions and, if appropriate, recommendations.

This is, of course, the introduction-body-conclusions structure of any essay. Some may claim such a structure is unnecessarily formulaic and the subject matter of route memorization; this is wrong and myopic. In any communication with another party, it is always necessary to tell them what you will tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. The introduction informs readers of the purpose and structure of the report. With this information, readers can anticipate the upcoming material as they read through it. Without a framework, the reader is simply reading pages without an understanding of the purpose or the flow. Similarly, once readers get to the end of the report, it is necessary to summarize the information—readers can take a lot of information out of the report, but the author must reemphasize what he or she believes to be the critical information.

Fine and simple, but what about internal structure of the report? This document assists you in writing the introduction, the body and conclusions in a structurally coherent manner. Not only does structuring your report assist your readers, but it will assist you in clearly defining your ideas.

Writing Structurally Coherent Reports