Checklist for Reports
This resource is an updated version of Muriel Harris’s handbook Report Formats: a Self-instruction Module on Writing Skills for Engineers, written in 1981. The primary resources for the editing process were Paul Anderson’s Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach (6th ed.) and the existing OWL PowerPoint presentation, HATS: A Design Procedure for Routine Business Documents.
Contributors:Elizabeth Cember, Alisha Heavilon, Mike Seip, Lei Shi, and Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2013-03-11 12:01:44
Questions to ask yourself before handing your reports to your readers.
- Did you begin by asking yourself: Who will read the report?; What do they want to know?; How should the report be structured?
- Have you planned and prepared the report with the reader in mind?
- Did you follow the format specified in your course or by your company?
- Did you use enough headings and make them in a clear hierarchy?
- Is the important information easy to follow?
- Does the document use the most appropriate typefaces, sizes, styles or alignments?
- Does the document have enough white space?
- Would you be willing to have your competence in your field judged on the basis of how you presented this report?
Informal Lab Report
- Has the introduction explained the problem you worked on and the purpose of your work?
- Did you adequately describe your apparatus and procedures if you were asked to do so or had a reason to do so?
- Does the body clearly indicate the data obtained, and have you discussed and evaluated your data?
- If you were asked to do so, did you include useful, clear conclusions and recommendations?
Short Memo Report
- Does the heading contain all the relevant information such as To, From, Date, Subject, and so on?
- Is your subject stated clearly and concisely, with the most important words at the beginning of the subject line?
- Does your introductory statement include the general problem (the “big picture”), the specific question or task being dealt with in your memo, a clear explanation of why the report is being submitted or what it is intended to do, and how significant it is to the reader?
- Have you tried to persuade the reader of the reliability of your methods?
- Have you presented your findings or results clearly and concisely with the most important results first?
- Have you put less important matter separately in an attachment or appendix?
- Have you discussed the significance of the results from the reader’s viewpoint?
- If your report is supposed to include your conclusions and recommendations, are they emphasized and stated clearly (e.g. numbered list)?
- Have you suggested some specific steps the reader could take to act on your recommendations?
- Have you used headings to help your reader survey and locate information on the page?
- Have you marked key points?
- If your purpose was to persuade, have you placed your strongest argument first? Is the report as concise as you can possibly make it?
- Is the report organized so that the reader knows: What was done (the problem worked on)?; How it was done (the procedures)?; What results were found?; What conclusions and recommendations can be drawn, if requested?
- Does the body of the report move from general to specific?
- Are the results presented clearly and in the specific way you found out?
- Are there enough headings and subheadings to help readers find their way through the report, and are the headings in a clear hierarchy?
- Are all headings and subheadings listed in the table of contents?
- Is the important information easy to find?
- Does it summarize the main points and include specific results?
- Is it clear and concise?
- Is it self-sufficient? (Can it be read without having to refer to the body of the report?)
- Are there any recommendations you can supply here?
Figures and Tables
- Are the figures located wherever readers would find them easily helpful or persuasive?
- Do all the figures and tables have numbers and captions?
- If the figures and tables are referred to in the text, are page numbers included?
- Are the figures and tables correctly labeled?
- Are the figures and tables explained or interpreted adequately?
- Are the figures and tables listed in the table of contents or in separate lists following the table of contents?
- Do the figures look attractive and easy to read?
- Are all units in the figures and tables clearly indicated?