WRIT 465: Building the Big Report

The Part

Where You’ve Written about It

What You Need to Do to It

The Transmittal Document*

(Note: * is a part that goes in business plans, too. If you are doing a business plan, see Dr. K to discuss what parts go in your document.)

To some extent, in audience analysis

Follow the model on p. 102 of BWC, but use a letter on letterhead stationery for outside audiences and a memo for inside audiences. If it is on letterhead, it is paper-clipped to the outside of the document and does not count in the page numbering; if it is a memo, it is bound inside the document and numbered as roman numeral ii (just behind the title page). Keep it professional but make it friendly. Use it as a way to create a receptive attitude in your readers.

The Cover Page* New Follow the instructions in BWC, page 97-98. Look at the example on page 103. Notice that the page number is suppressed.
The Table of Contents and List of Figures* New Use the instructions your classmates gave you as part of Oral Presentation #2 to generate a Table of Contents (BWC  p. 98); it is page numbered in roman numerals as ii [if you started with a memo then it's page iii]. If you have more than three figures, you also need a List of Figures (BWC p. 98), which is roman numeral page iii [or page iv if you started with a memo]. 
Preface or Acknowledgements* New If someone has been particularly helpful to you in compiling information for your report, it's a graceful compliment to add an Acknowledgements page or Preface to thank them. This is roman numeral page iv or vNote: This is totally optional. Don't use it to brown-nose.

The Executive Summary*
NOTE: You do not have to do an abstract as well for WRIT 465.

Bits in your work plan and progress report.

Follow the instructions on p. 95 of BWC. Revise so you are talking to your primary audience. Remember the job each of the three paragraphs should do in a good pyramid organization! This becomes Arabic page number 1.  Survival hint:  If you can't get Word to change the page number format and the page number, start a new document for the body of the paper.

The Introduction: Overview of the problem and description of your methodology

Work Plan, Memo accompanying questionnaire, progress report

Revise so you are talking to your primary audience, not to me. Follow the suggestions in BWC  p. 99 and p. 16 ff. Use headings (p. 98, 194 ff.) to help you organize the material. Use audience analysis to decide if direct or indirect approach is appropriate.

The Body: Describing what you found in your investigations

Some in graphics and progress report; strategies in audience analysis grid.

Revise so you are talking to your primary audience, not to me. Use the suggestions in "Research," BWC p. 42 ff. and "Organization," p. 27 ff., and look carefully at the three sample reports. Use subheadings to reinforce your organization. Use transitions (BWC  p. 277 ff.) for coherence. See BWC  p. 185 ff. for advice on using graphics to present information (and also "Description," p. 10 ff.)

The Conclusions/ Recommendations

Look back at audience analysis grid and at objectives in your work plan.

See BWC  p. 99 and BWC, p. 6. Revise to speak to primary audience, not to me. Depending on audience’s attitude and direct/indirect approach, decide what to stress.

Appendix or Appendices*

Some in questionnaire, progress report

Decide if you have any data or information that would help persuade the audience but might distract from the flow if put in the main report itself (for instance, a complete set of questionnaire results). Revise presentation to eliminate unnecessary material (for instance, instructions for filling out questionnaire).


May have mentioned in progress report or work plan or audience grid

Put references to every source in MLA form (BWC pp. 54-59; if you need more help, consult the Writing Center Web Page). This includes interviews with your primary audience. Please note that in MLA form, the heading "Works Cited" is centered, but that in the sample formal report, it is flushed against the left margin. Remember, we are following the sample formal report in the book. I will accept the heading in either place. Do not underline, italicize, or bold-face the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks.

If you're doing a business plan, click here.