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Formal Report Outline

Formal Report Outline

Whenever you carry out a project, you are expected to write a formal report. If you don't know the formal report outline, you won't be able to write it. Here, we give you details of how to write a formal report.
Madhurjya Bhattacharyya
A formal report can be used as an official document for business communication or for academic purpose. Whatever the reason, the basics are the same, it gives the reader in-depth information about a particular topic, introduces a particular process, and presents new results. It is a means to convey whatever you have found out after researching on a particular topic or task. So, it is important that you follow the correct format and write it in clear concise English, so that it can be easily understood by everyone. It needs to give the readers a clear understanding of what you have done, the reasons for it being done, and the inferences of the research or the current situation at the end of the task. You need to be careful and ensure that you don't use any material or reference without mentioning its origin.

While writing a short formal report, you need to follow an outline which includes certain things that are required in business writing. You should first get the title of the report clear. The title should give an idea of what the report is all about. It should also include your name and the course for which you have done the research. The date should also be included, so that it gives a clear idea of when the research was done.

Next, comes the summary or the abstract of the research. It should describe in brief what the report is all about. The abstract should pay attention to the procedure, results, objectives, besides the conclusion. It's the focal point which holds the report together. Many a time, people don't read the complete report, but will only go through the abstract, so providing clear information is of utmost importance. It should not be too long; at the most a couple of paragraphs would do. Once the abstract is done, you need to create the table of contents. It includes the headlines and page numbers.

Even though an outline is usually not included in a report, yet, you can choose to include it, as it helps in giving the readers an idea of your thought process. It would also give your readers an idea of what to expect in the report.

The outline is followed by the introduction, which prepares the tone of the formal report. It gives readers the required information in brief, besides helping them to understand the report in the proper context. The introduction also includes an analysis of the theoretical aspect of the research, the basic principles which you want to study and the theory which you apply to get to a conclusion.

This is followed by the methods followed for the research. Here, you need to explain the process which you have followed for getting the desired result. It also includes the details of the result, graphs, and tables which shows the results (if any), and how the research relates to theory.

Next comes the discussion, which in reality is the main body of the report. Here, you need to give details of whatever you have written in the introduction. It should provide all supporting information, research, and statistics which back up the process which you have carried out. The discussion should give in-depth details, and while writing it, make sure that readers understand whatever you want to convey.

The discussion is followed by the conclusion, which gives a summary of your findings. It should be a summary and analysis of your research. The appendix comes last, and this would include all the resources which you have used. Here, you need to mention the names of books, publications, and authors whose work you have referred to.

Sample Template
The Title Page
  • Title of the report.
  • Name of the author (i.e. your name).
  • Name of the course for which the research is done.
  • Date on which the research is done.
  • Brief of what the report is all about.
  • The methods of the research.
  • Procedure followed.
Table of Contents
  • The appendices and heading.
  • Page numbers.
  • An overview of the research carried out.
  • Objective of the research.
  • Importance of the research.
  • Process followed.
  • Details of the result.
  • Equations followed.
  • Graphs and tables.
  • Relation between the research and theory.
  • Critique of the outcome.
  • Trend of results.
  • Summary and analysis of the findings.
  • The numeric results of the research.
  • Names of references from where you have taken information.
  • List of equipment used.
  • Calculations applied.

You need to remember the audience and their needs while writing the report. The style should be such that it can be easily interpreted.