Essay How To Write A Report
Accounting Communication Matters
Writing an Essay or Report
Why are good written communication skills so important?
Good communication skills are an important skill in any profession including accounting. The Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs [DEETYA] report on employer satisfaction of graduate skills noted that there was "little complaint about the content of university courses, despite the [students'] claim that much that is taught is not used" and that the most common complaint about new graduates was that they couldn't communicate in writing in a manner appropriate for business (1998, p. 22). The DEETYA report reflected that:
[a]ccording to anecdotal evidence here, up to half of graduates who are achieving adequate academic results, can be rejected by employers after testing for literacy and numeracy.
Why do accounting students need to learn to write?
- The role of accounting has changed Computers now do much of the bookkeeping work that we used to think of as 'accounting'.
- Although accountants do not have to write essays, essays teach the skills they will need in all their writing – information selection, synthesis (putting together information from several sources), summary, description, explanation and argument, answering a question, formal style, structure etc.
- Future assessment in accounting subjects will require appropriate written communication skills.
- The accounting professional bodies [CPA and ICAA] and employer bodies stress communication skills and criticise graduates' skill levels.
Five steps for making academic writing easier from CQ University
In this section we will be offering students a range of advice and activities to improve their written communication skills.
Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1260787
What is a report?
A report is a clearly structured document that presents information as clearly and succinctly as possible. Reports should be easy to read and professional in presentation.
Reports are used to help make decisions or account for actions. Reports use research to make recommendations for action. There are many different types of reports including business reports, scientific lab reports and case study reports. The common feature of all reports is that they are structured into sections with headings. Always check with your lecturer or tutor for any other specific requirements and report conventions.
Differences between reports and essays:
Why do we write reports?
Reports are a common form of workplace communication, from a simple work assessment report to the high flying technical write-up. Report writing is an essential skill for professionals in many fields including business, science, education and information technology. Mastering report writing at university will help prepare you for your professional life.
How to write a report
This page should include:
- the report title, which states the report’s purpose
- your name and the name of the person receiving the report (place in the bottom right-hand corner)
- the submission date.
An executive summary is a paragraph that provides the reader with a quick overview of the entire report, including its purpose, context, methods, major findings, conclusions and recommendations. It is often easier to write the executive summary once the report has been completed.
This is placed on a separate page between the title page and the table of contents. This may often be the only part of the report that is actually read.
Table of contents
The table of contents lists the main sections (headings) of the report, and the page on which each begins. If your report includes tables, diagrams or illustrations, these are listed separately on the page after the table of contents.
The introduction should:
- discuss the importance or significance of the research or problem to be reported
- define the purpose of the report
- outline the issues to be discussed (scope)
- inform the reader of any limitations to the report, or any assumptions made.
Discussion or body
This contains the main substance of the report, organised into sections with headings and subheadings rather than paragraphs. The body of a report can include the following:
- A description of the issue or situation which is being reported on. This may include a literature review of the research on that issue.
- The method of data collection, if applicable — this should include what you did and why, such as a survey or interview, and the size and selection criteria of the study sample
- A discussion and analysis of the data collected — this should comment on the reliability and accuracy of the data and relate the findings to your report’s purpose and current literature.
This summarises the key findings from the discussion section and may be numbered here for clarity. Relate your conclusion to the objectives of the report and arrange your points logically so that major conclusions are presented first. Some reports may require a discussion of recommendations, rather than a conclusion.
These are subjective opinions about what action you think could be followed. They must be realistic, achievable and clearly relate to the conclusion of the report.
This must contain all the material cited in the report. It must be accurate and consistent with a standard referencing style. Refer to www.citewrite.qut.edu.au
These contain extra supporting information that is put at the end of the report so as not to distract the reader from the main issues. They contain detailed information, such as questionnaires, tables, graphs and diagrams. Appendices should be clearly set out and numbered in the order they are mentioned in the text.
Example report structure
(Note that this is a generic example only. Your table of contents may vary depending on the type and function of your report. Please check with your lecturer which headings are appropriate for your purposes.)
Table of contents
1.1 Purpose of the report
1.2 Issues to be discussed and their significance
1.3 Research methods
1.4 Limitations and assumptions
2.1 Literature review
2.1.1 Issue 1
2.1.2 Issue 2
2.1.3 Issue 3
2.2.2 Sample size
2.2.3 Selection criteria
2.3 Discussion and analysis of data
2.3.1 Issue 1
2.3.2 Issue 2
2.3.3 Issue 3
2.3.4 Reliability and accuracy of data
4.1 Recommendation 1
4.2 Recommendation 2
Checklist for a report
- Read the assignment criteria clearly and clarified what needs to be in the report and what type of report it is to be?
- Followed the structure, using the correct headings?
- Provided a title page?
- Provided an executive summary?
- Provided a table of contents?
- Provided an introduction?
- Provided the literature review?
- Explained the method of how the data was gathered?
- Discussed the results and findings?
- Come to a conclusion?
- Made some recommendations?
- Provided references in the correct format?
- Included any appendices?
- Checked punctuation and spelling?
University of NSW - Report writing FAQ