Prepare the font matter only after you have a complete draft of the report, and don’t prepare the table of contents until the end.
The report front matter will include:
- Letter of transmittal
- Title page
- Abstract, which is sometimes referred to as an Executive Summary
- Table of contents
- List of illustrations
The body of the Recommendation Report may have the following sections:
|Section||Answers the question||Notes|
|Purpose||What is the purpose of this piece of communication?||Focus on the purpose of this document, not the purpose of the project.|
|Organizational Summary||What content is included in the memo?||Provide a brief overview of the report’s main sections for readers who may only read the summary.|
|Introduction||What problem(s) does the report address? What is the context?||Revise, redesign, and edit the description of the problem that you wrote in your Client Proposal and Visual Progress Report. Provide all of the background and rationale for pursuing this study. Include subheadings and multiple paragraphs for: |
1. Summary of the report,
2. The purpose of the report,
3. The background,
4. The sources of information,
5. The scope,
6. The most significant findings & recommendations,
7. The key terms.
8. A visualization that provides an illustration of the central argument of the recommendation (e.g., statement of the problem, stakeholders, and potential solutions.
|Research Methods||What work was done? How? Why?||Use task orientation, describe exact tasks performed, the rationale for each task. Demonstrates to the reader that you followed the plan outlined in the research proposal. If you made deviations, identify why.|
|Results (aka Findings)||What did you find out from your research?||From a task-orientation perspective, distinguish between primary and secondary research findings.|
|Limitations of the Study (optional)||What are the shortcomings of this study? What could we not study? Did anything go wrong?||Optional section. Include if you encountered any problems that might limit your recommendations|
|Conclusions (aka Discussion or Analysis)||What do your results mean?||Your research won’t “speak for itself” to the client. You have to tell the client what your results mean. Draw conclusions and implications based on what you have learned. Explain the relationships between pieces of data/information. Describe trends. If there are anomalies, explain what seems wrong or different from what was expected.|
|Recommendations||What recommendations can you offer based on your conclusions?||Tells the reader what steps, measures, actions they should take in light of the conclusions you have reached. Explain how the recommendations might be implemented.|
Required content: Report back matter
Collect material for the appendices as you go. The report back matter will include:
- Bibliography, which is sometimes referred to as Works Cited or References (Use a citation format appropriate for your field (APA, MLA, Chicago, IEEE, etc.)
- Appendices (e.g., letters of support, financial projections.
Formatting and design
- Page layout: Appropriate to audience, purpose, and context. 8.5 x 11 with 1-inch margins is a fail-safe default.
- Typography: Choose business-friendly fonts appropriate to your audience, purpose, and context; Arial for headers and Times New Roman for body text is a safe, neutral default.
- Headings and subheadings: Use a numbered heading and subheading system, formatted using the Styles function on your word processor.
- Bulleted and numbered lists: Use lists that are formatted correctly using the list buttons on your word processor with a blank line before the first bullet and after the last bullet
- Graphics and figures: Support data findings and arguments with appropriate visuals – charts, tables, graphics; Include numbered titles and captions
- Page numbering: use lower-case Roman numerals for pages before the table of contents, Arabic numerals; no page number on the TOC.