My Information Skills

Self-paced tutorials on research and study skills for TAFE SA students


report is a structured non- fiction document that presents information about something you have researched. A report:

  • comprises facts and information, rather than a discussion of various opinions
  • is often written for a very specific audience e.g. commissioned by a company
  • uses a formal structure and consistent formatting so that information can be found easily and quickly
    • one easy-to-read font throughout e.g. Times New Roman or Arial
    • double spacing
    • traditional names for headings e.g. Introduction, Conclusions
    • short informative headings and subheadings that are numbered so that they stand out
    • short, concise paragraphs
    • dot points, numbers, letters or lists where applicable to clarify information
    • lots of white space to separate the parts of the report, to help different parts stand out, and to give an uncluttered look
    • numbers for each page
  • uses graphics e.g. tables, graphs, illustrations wherever possible for clarification
  • usually starts with an abstract, called an executive summary
  • makes recommendations
  • does not always need references and a bibliography
  • may use appendices for extra data, charts etc. not included in body of report.

Like an essay, a report needs to:

  • provide evidence to support conclusions
  • demonstrate analytical thinking
  • be written in formal language, with an introduction, body and conclusion
  • be proofread carefully for accuracy
  • be presented neatly

Parts of a report:

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Abstract or Summary (if required)
  • Introduction
  • Main body of report (including description and analysis of findings)
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations
  • Reference list
  • Appendices

Use the tabs above to explore the sections of a report in more detail. 

For an example report, see the Victoria University of Wellington's handbook on how to write a business report.

The title page is the first page of your report.

It should clearly describe what the report is about and who wrote it. If commissioned, the organisation should be included as well. The date it was prepared can also be included on the title page.

At TAFE SA the title page should include your assignment question as a statement, your name, your Student ID number, the name of the topic you are studying (e.g Certificate I in English Proficiency) and your lecturer's / tutor's name.

An example of a title page for a report:




How global warming affects the environment.

Name: Joe Bloggs
Student ID: 000123456
Subject: Certificate I in English Proficiency
Tutor's name: Penny Smith


The Table of Contents enables the reader to easily find the various sections of your report. It should:

  • list both major headings and sub-headings as they appear in your report (in the same order, with the same numbering). The numbered headings should be on the left hand side. 
  • include page numbers for each heading. These page numbers should be on the same line as the heading.
  • be on a separate page.

You can use word processing software, such as Word, to create a Table of Contents automatically. You need to use headings style in your formatting for this to work.

An example of a Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

Abstract or Summary i
1.       Introduction 2
2.       Findings and Analysis  
2.1.    First point 4
2.2.    Second point 5
2.2.1. Subheading for second point 5
2.3.    Third point 7
2.3.1. Subheading for third point 7
3.0.    Conclusion 9
4.0.    Recommendations 11
5.       References 13
          Appendix A
          Appendix B

An abstract or a summary should:

  • provide the reader with a concise outline of what the report is about eg the purpose, objectives, problem etc.
  • explain how the topic was investigated
  • briefly include major points, conclusions and recommendations.

It is best written when the report is finished, so that everything is mentioned.

An example of an abstract:


This is a report on global warming, how it affects the environment and how to make the environment sustainable. This topic was investigated by conducting extensive research and by carrying out a number of different experiments. The results of the investigations indicated that global warming is a major issue for the world. It is necessary to take action now to address it.

An introduction to a report should:

  • explain the purpose of the report - why the topic is being investigated, the problem or the issues involved
  • provide background information
  • define any terms used
  • explain the scope of topic, and methods you will use
  • provide a preview of how the report will be arranged.

A sample introduction to a report:

1.0. Introduction

This report gives a brief explanation of the issues associated with global warming, and what action can be taken to address them. Global warming is an extremely important issue. Key findings, conclusions and recommendations are all included in this report.

The body is the main section of the report. It is sometimes called Discussion of Findings.

Unlike the other sections of your report, which are written in plain English, this section can include jargon and technical terms. The focus is on clarity and understanding, so use both text and graphics. The body contains:

  • numbered headings for all major parts of this section. Bold, uppercase letters is recommended, and can be centred on the page.
  • numbered sub-headings. These should align with the left hand margin. Bold, mixed case letters help them stand out.
  • bullet or numbered lists as appropriate.

All quoted and paraphrased material require citations.


Typical formatting ot the body of a report:

1.0. Introduction

Global warming is ...

                                       2.1. POINT 1

2.1.1. Element of point 1

        Increasing ocean temperatures have...

2.1.2. Another element of point 1

        Evidence of affected marine life....

2.1.3. Another element of point 1

  • rising sea levels

  • decrease in fisheries

  • economic repercussions

                                     2.2. POINT 2
2.2.1. Element of point 2

           Atmospheric pollution is another contributing factor...

2.2.2. Another element of point 2

          Industrial wastes have....

2.2.3. Another element of point 3

         Government regulations for industry ...

                                   2.3. POINT 3

[ Continue with this pattern]

conclusion should:
  • finish the report, bringing everything together by repeating the main points in a shortened form
  • summarise the key findings
  • make a statement about the significance or interpretation of the findings. Did the report achieve it's purpose?
  • be free of jargon. Many people will just read the summary and the conclusion. Technical details are in the body and appendices
  • lead into the recommendations

No new information should be introduced in the conclusion.

An example of a report conclusion:

3.  Conclusion

In the future, if global warming is not addressed by all sectors of society, the environment will not be sustainable because...

The recommendations section of your report should outline any future action that your conclusion leads you to recommend.

Recommendations should be:
  • actions
  • in order of priority
  • written clearly, without jargon
  • accompanied by an explanation of how they will address the findings.

An example of report recommendations:

4.  Recommendations

As a result of this report on global warming and its conclusion, it is recommended that the following courses of action be carried out...

Recommendation 1: Education

That this organisation implement an environmental education program immediately, compulsory for all employees.

Recommendation 2: Infrastructure

That a Sustainability Group be established to review the efficiency of the organisation's equipment  and report to management within six months.......

Recommendation 3: Policies

That the Sustainablity group review current policies and procedures and make recommendations to management within three months

Recommendation 4: Finances

That the organisation allocate 5% of profits to sustainablility projects over the next 5 years. ...

reference list should contain details of all the sources that you have referred to in your report.

Not all reports include a reference list. However at TAFE SA a reference list is mandatory to show your research.

The reference list for a report is the same as a reference list for an essay.

For more information on constructing a reference list, please see Reference Lists in How do I reference my information?

The appendices contain information and technical data that would make the report too bulky if included in the body of the report.

This material explains and supports the information you have included in your report. Often it is only the experts who refer to this information. The average reader will accept your statements, if they know you have included this data.

Appendices can include:

  • surveys
  • graphs
  • charts
  • tables
  • maps

An example:


Appendix A - Table of average surface temperatures in USA, 1901 -2015

Combined bar and line graph showing changes in average temperatures for the contiguous 48 states from 1901 to 2015.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency


Appendix B - Survey conducted by SurveyMonkey in July 2017 for TAFE SA students

Question Answer
Are you concerned about Global Warming? Yes 88% 
No 12%


Try this  Sentences Quiz 1