Report Writing: What Format to use?

If you have been assigned a report to write, then you will need to know the format that you should use. There are several different formatting styles and they all have different requirements. However, they all have same purpose: to properly document the sources that were used to gather information for the paper and to arrange them in a standardized fashion. Professors and teachers are often frustrated with the unfortunate fact that students have difficulty following the assigned formatting style, so once you know what you should be using, use it properly.

Use the Tools that are Available to You

Whether you are assigned to use formats from MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association) or another one, you can find online reference material or print publications that provide all of the information that you will need to get the formatting done properly. There are also several websites that will format web sources just by entering the URL. There are also other websites that require users to enter information like the title, author, and publication date on your own.

Teach Students How to Use the Templates

Many students have difficulty with formatting because they do not understand the templates. Each works cited or bibliography entry requires writers to include certain information and some students do not know where to find the data. Students who use books need to learn how to read the source page so they can find the publisher, city of publication, and year of publication. Students also need to learn where to find the names of editors, titles of websites, and dates of uploads for websites. Once students learn what those things look like and where they can find them, students have more success completing the works cited pages.

Show Them Where to Get the Information

The other difficulty that students have with report formatting is the in-text documentation. When writing the report, students are often unaware that they have to include where they found the information. This part of the process is actually quite easy, but students are often unaware as to where they get the information for the parenthetical citations, if they have to use parentheses at all.

Let Students Practice and Work with Students Who Get It

Teachers and professors need to understand that students often need a refresher course or an introductory course to using a format on a report. They need to be able to practice so they can safely make mistakes, because most students learn by being able to practice. Students who need extra help with formatting can get help from students who understand how to get the job done.