Advice On Report Writing In IPT (In no particular order)
ADVICE~1.DOC Dave McGuinness 28/11/2005
1. Read every one of the following suggestions and implement them.
2. Read every one of the sentences in your report aloud, or have someone read them out loud to you. You will
be surprised at some of the garbage you have written.
3. The assignment is not a treasure hunt where you find all the little gems to show to the teacher. Focus on you
audience and give them useful information. That is your task.
4. Have a plan before you start writing. Make up an outline of what content you plan to cover and in what
order. Stick to your plan.
5. Do not use contractions, ie. No don'ts, can'ts or won'ts
6. Do not use the apostrophe (') if it can at all be avoided. Believe me, you do not need it, but if you do use it,
you will probably misuse it!
7. Do not use personal pronouns. I, me , my, mine, we, our, us, ours, you ,your and yours are all banned
completely from your report.
8. Do no write "In this assignment/report/whatever" Do not state what content you are going to include, just
state the content.
9. Do not use the headings "Introduction" or "Conclusion". The first paragraph is always the introduction. It
does not need a heading. Similarly, the conclusion always comes last.
10. Do not put every paragraph (or section) on a separate page.
11. Do not, under any circumstances, use a font size above 12 pt for the paragraph font. I like 11 pt.
12. Do not pose serial questions. You are writing a report, not a test.
13. Learn the basic structure of a sentence and stick to it. Do not make up new avant-garde sentence structures.
It does not help the reader understand what you are trying to say. No SMS speak please.
14. Learn how to structure a paragraph, when it should end, how many sentences it should include, and how to
link ideas together between paragraphs.
15. Try to avoid serial re-iteration at all costs. That is, do not keep repeating yourself by saying the same thing
over again a second time in another way by reorganising the words and re-stating them in almost the same
sentence but another way around just in case your reader did not get the point the first or second or third
time and anyway sentences like this might get the word count up but they are guaranteed to get you mark
down because your just managed to use 150 words to say what a normal person could say in 15 and be
careful not to repeat yourself or use too many words when you are doing this.
16. Do not use the non-words, "alot", "infact", or similar. In fact, avoid using the word "lot" completely if you
17. Every paragraph apart from the first and last should have at least one in-line reference. This is not a
statement of what you know about the topic, but rather a report on what you have found out about the topic.
If you use the author's name in the sentence, you still have to put in an in-line reference as well.
18. Do not exaggerate by using very big overly large words to greatly extend and over-emphasise the hugely,
great, magnificent, extremely, earth-shattering nature to the world of the potentially life-threatening
information your have luckily and very fortunately discovered before the world has actually imploded.
19. Keep your sentences short and sharp. Make a clean hit and move on.
20. Any quotation longer than ¾ of a line is a block quote and should be formatted and indented appropriately.
Do not overuse block quotes as they are not counted in the word count anyway.
21. Do not use slang, such as "stuff up",
22. Do not speculate about what people's motivations might be. Use hard evidence.
23. Use your spell-checker. It costs you not to.
24. Forget the thesaurus. If you do not know the right word, how will you know if the one the thesaurus finds
for you is right either?
25. Use serif fonts for paragraph body text, sans serif for headings only.
26. Hold back on your personal opinions until you get to the conclusion. You may evaluate the statements of
your sources throughout the discussion, however, by using adjectives that qualify the authors contribution,
eg, Useful definition, sound statement, dubious value, obscure opinion, exaggerated description.
27. Use Headers and Footers to clearly identify every page with your name and a page number at least in the
footer and at least the title of the report in the header.