Appendices. Appendices are the place for material which supports the body of the report, but is too detailed to be included there. Material which should be included in an appendix is that which the reader does not need to study in order to understand the report, but which she/he may turn to if she/he wishes to examine in detail the supporting evidence.
Give appendices a reference by which they are identified in the body of the report. Here is an example:
The first appendix may be “Appendix A”. The first page of this appendix will be numbered “A(i)”, the secon page “A(ii)”, the third page “A(iii)”, etc.
If the material is needed to sustain the theme of the text, leave it in the body of the report; otherwise your reader will be continually turning back and forth between the report and the appendices.
Bibliography. A bibliorgaphy is a list of the books and other works you have consulted. It has two purposes:
- to show what resources you have used to gather information;
- to help the reader find suitable background reading matter on the subject of the report.
Publishers, universities, companies, and government bureaux may have their own rules for entries in bibliographies and references, and writers should follow those rules. If no such standards exist, writers usually follow one of several authorities: the instructions and style guides of the prestigious journals or the associations in the author’s specialization.
Glossary. It is sometimes impossible to avoid the use of technical jargon or terminology when you are writing a report. But, remember, if your reader isn’t an expert in the subject, the terms can be unintelligible and frustrating. List all the terms in alphabetical order in a glossary, with an explanation of each. If there is only a small number of words which need explanation, you can use footnotes in the report instead of a glossary.
Indexes. Indexes may be provided for long, detailed reports. Arranged in alphabetical order, not like a table of contents, which is arranged in page order, an index contains more details than a table of contents. But they both refer readers only to the contents of a report.
Many reports don’t need appendices, bibliographies, glossaries and indices. These are mainly used for lengthy reports on major topics.
The presentation of your report - what it looks like - is almost as important as what it says. Don’t let poor presentation reduce the impact of an otherwise good report.
Your aim in presenting a report should be to make it look inviting to the reader. Here are a few tips to help you achieve an attractive and therefore inviting appearance.
Most typing is produced single-spaced. However, it is not the best way to type a report. If it is typed in single space type without headings, it will appear to the reader as a great mass of type and reading will be a daunting task.
Have your report typed in one and a half space type and use headings to break up the mass and act as “signposts” to help your reader find his/her way about your report.
You should need more than four levels of headings in your report:
- Major Topic;
- Minor Topic.
You can use the following to show the relative importance of sections of the text:
Using upper and lower case
Underlining or bold face
In larger reports you can use all four at once.
There are some basic “rules” to remember about paragraphs:
- use one paragraph for each point. Start the paragraph with the main point and follow on with any qualifications or examples;
- try to keep paragraphs to a maximum of 10 lines. Solid blocks of text will put your reader off;
- avoid using a series of one line paragraphs. Instead use bullet points.
Key terms: report structure; cover; flyleaf; title page; copyright page; letter of authorisation; cover letter; preface; acknowledgements; table of contents; summary; introduction; body; conclusions; recommendations; appendices; bibliographies; glossary; indices.