Writing Style: The Appearance of a Report


Writing Style The Appearance of a Report

When writing a document, as well as its content, its appearance is also important. To encourage people to read, it has to look good. Here are some tips.

Report writing

When you write a document, such as a lab, project, or work report, you want people to read it. Whoever your audience will be – your lecturer or your project manager – you want them to be positively impressed by it; this is much more likely to happen if your document is easy to read.

Its content, of course, is the most important thing. The way a document looks, however, can also affect how other essay writers read it; consequently, this can affect their opinion and the way they assess what you wrote.

Essential issues

A well written, easy to read document has to be:

  • Clear.
  • Uniform.
  • Pleasing to look at.

Now we consider each issue in more detail.

Clear Document

The structure of a written document needs to be very clear. It has to be easily understood how the document is composed and constructed (a contents page is often useful for this), and in what sections you can find particular information.

For this purpose, the best procedure is to divide the document into different sections and subsections, with the corresponding hierarchical headings. The headings have to stand out clearly from the rest of the text, by using a different font (or a bigger one or the same one but bold or italics). The heading also has to express briefly the content of the paragraph (example: Introduction, Results, and Discussion, etc., if it is a lab or project report).

The choice of the style depends on you; however, the procedure described below is one of the most common.

  • The FIRST-LEVEL HEADING is written in capital letters and in bold, it is separated by the rest of the text by leaving an empty line.
  • The Second level heading is not in capital letters but is still in bold; again it is separated by the rest of the text by leaving an empty line.
  • Both the FIRST-LEVEL HEADING and the Second level heading are in the left margin of the page and the font size is greater than the rest of the text.
  • The third level heading is in bold, with the font of the same size as the rest of the text. It is indented from the left margin; the text is not separated by the rest of the text, but just after it.

Uniform Document

The layout of the document has to be the same throughout it. This means you should use always the same font and font size for the same parts of the document. Here are some examples:

  • If you have the first heading in Arial, bold, 14 pt, all the other first headings have to have the same style; the same can be said for the text, second headings, etc. It is your report, you can choose the font you want, but you have to be consistent.
  • If you insert some graphics, be sure they are all done in the same way, with the same dimensions, etc. The fonts on the graphics should also be the same as the rest of the text, even if maybe they were done with different software.
  • The spacing in the document has to be uniform as well; you should always leave the same space between two different sections or between an inserted graphic and the main text of the document.
  • Make sure that all of the text has the same alignment – e.g., justified, aligned to the left, etc.
  • The indentation of the paragraphs should be uniform throughout all documents.

Pleasing to Look at

If you want other people to read your document, it has to be pleasing to look at and easily readable.

It is much more difficult to read a very dense page, with no break between paragraphs, very small characters, no outlining at all, etc.

Therefore, it is a good idea to divide each section into small paragraphs; in this way, the page will not look too dense. You could also separate the paragraphs by leaving an empty line or a half-line between them; this will improve the readability of the whole document.

Unless otherwise instructed or limited, it is better not to use single spacing, as it is too dense to read easily.

If you want to highlight or stress something, do it by using italics, a different font, or a different size. Do not write sentences in capital letters (CAPITAL LETTERS ARE MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TO READ THAN LOWER CASE LETTERS).

Important Points

These issues are all very important, and they can affect the way people read and consider your document. The key points are readability and consistency – the document must look attractive, to encourage the reader. Furthermore, in the case of a lab or project report, many lecturers give some marks (about 10%) for the format of the document. These are marks that could be easily earned, with just a few formatting actions.