Structure of reports
Reports vary considerably in their contents, but they all have commonly recognized parts. The following information, which is suitable for a wide variety of subjects, covers the items that may appear in reports:
Letter of authorisation
Preface or Foreword
Table of contents
Main part of the report
Body of the report
The pages of preliminary material are assigned lowercase Roman numerals, beginning with ii on the first page after the title page of a report that is typed on one side of the paper. The report and the supplementary material are assigned Arabic numerals beginning with an optional 1 on the first page or a necessary 2 on the second. If a report has chapters, the number assigned the first page of each chapter may appear or not as the writer wishes.
Each part of a report is discussed in the following sections. Some of the preliminary and supplementary sections are optional. Some are so similar that only one of the pair need be used.
Cover. The cover of a report contains the title and the author’s name. Optional additions are a security classification, the date of the submission of the completed work, and if the report is one in a series, the title of the series. Covers may be paper of higher quality suited to harder use than typing paper.
Flyleaf. Favoured by writers, a flyleaf is a blank page, sometimes of paper of higher quality than is used for the rest of the report, sometimes containing a decorative background design. It is, of course, optional. We have not seen a flyleaf in any unpublished papers, particularly in scholarly reports. It is too fancy for typewritten papers.
Title page. The title page usually incorporates the following:
- The Title. It should be brief, but it should convey the subject of the report, e.g. “Introducing Flexible Hours into Head Office - Addressing Concerns”.
- The Author’s Name and his/her position and qualifications, e.g. Ann Smith, Head/Personnel Department.
- The Distribution List. A list of the people, or groups of people, who are to receive the report. For example, the model report is to all departamental heads.
- The Date on which the report is presented. E.g. 17 June, 2000.
Other items that might be included are the approval signature and date, the revision date, the series number, the security classification, and the number of the contract.
Copyright Page. This page is noted in books on the back of the title page as follows: date of copyright, name of the holder of the copyright, and a statement like “All rights reserved. This book or any part thereof must not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the copyright owner”.