REPORT WRITING - Editing a Report
Call 07976-390960 or email direct to Tony Atherton
Report writing is not the
easiest of tasks and one of the biggest mistakes made by many report
writers is to neglect the final stage of their task - which is to edit
and proof-read their report carefully. So often this final task is done
casually, if at all, whereas it should be done carefully and
5. You can also tighten up your writing by preferring active to passive sentences. This point of grammar can seriously improve your report writing! Active sentences will usually have a subject-verb-object structure whereas passive ones have an object-verb-subject structure. Clear as mud? Forget the grammar and just look at some examples.
For example, The dog chased the cat (5 words) is an active sentence whereas The cat was chased by the dog (7 words) is a passive sentence. Active sentences are normally shorter and a bit more direct and it's usually a good idea to aim for about 70-80% of your sentences to be active when writing reports. You will probably struggle to get that example into your report but here are two from real reports:
· Three sites were visited by the inspectors. (Passive)
· The inspectors visited three sites. (Active)
· Children were encouraged to use exploratory play by their teachers. (Passive)
· Teachers encouraged children to use exploratory play. (Active)
6. Do the obvious checks. It is surprising how many people appear to skip the basic checks on punctuation, spelling, grammar and illustrations. Grammar checkers are far from perfect but they will provide some help if used intelligently.
Subject-verb-agreement usually means that you have muddled up singulars and plurals. Remember that 'collective nouns' such as the board, the committee and the industry are actually singular and take singular verbs despite referring to lots of people or organisations. So we write The committee is very concerned not The committee are very concerned.
Most punctuation problems can be avoided if you use short sentences. Short sentences need fewer punctuation marks - and the grammar checker is more likely to get things right too. If you keep things simple you will probably only need a colon (:) if introducing a list or bullet points, and you will hardly ever need a semicolon (;).
Check the spelling throughout the report! Make sure that the spellchecker is set to the right version of English for your readers but do not rely on it. It cannot check the meaning of what you have written. If you mistype a word so that it ends up as a correct English word (such as typing work instead of word) it will miss the mistake. You must check carefully by eye. If you are not a good speller try asking a colleague to check for you. Reports are usually important documents and when report writing you should do a professional job - which means using good grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Also check that your illustrations are correctly captioned and numbered - and that they are all referred to in the text.
7. Finally, take a good look at it. Does
it look good? Adding some white space in sensible places (such as an
extra line space after sections) can make a report look more inviting.
Author: Tony Atherton
About the author:
Enquiries: E-mail direct to Tony Atherton or call 07976-390960
Based in Hampshire, England
Last updated 24 July 2014