Use this checklist to ensure your report is ready to go

  • Purpose and content
    Is the purpose/objective of the report included at the beginning and is it clear and unambiguous?
  • Overall, have I done what I set out to do and achieved the purpose/objective?
  • Does it take the readers’ needs and likely reaction into account?
  • Have I answered all questions, addressed likely concerns and counter-arguments?
  • Does the Introduction set the scene and give people all the information they need before reading the rest of the report? (The WWWWWH of the report?)
  • Could the background section be cut shorter – is it all absolutely ‘need to know’?
  • Style and readability
    Can anything be cut out that is not needed?  Can it be said more simply?
  • Have I written in plain English?
  • Can anything else be changed from passive to active?
    Have I used actions instead of nouns eg ‘more resources’ rather than ‘an increase in resources’; ‘we decided’ rather than ‘a decision was taken’
    Are any sentences too long?  Is the average number of words per sentence around 15-20? (Clue: watch out for too many commas)
    Could long lists and paragraphs be replaced by bullet points?
    If I have used a ‘big word’ would a shorter one be just as good?
    Have I made instructions clear and unambiguous?
    Is the Flesch score about right for the anticipated reader?
  • Credibility and accuracy
    Are there any ‘facts’ where I have not stated where they came from?  ‘According to a survey by …. Etc   Have all references to publications, websites etc been cited and listed in footnotes or at the end of the report?
  • Have I been objective and presented all sides?  Is there any danger I could be accused of bias or being wrong?  Is the information accurate, objective and complete?  Is there anything missing that needs to be included? Is my evidence strong?
  • Have I explained and expanded upon the points I make? (the ‘PEE?’ or ‘so what?’ test)
  • Do my conclusions flow from the findings without any new surprises?
  • Do recommendations flow from conclusions?  Are they appropriately worded?
  • Does the summary:
  • Include enough information to stand alone for busy people?
    Include key findings and conclusions?
    Grab attention and seem exciting so people will want to read more?
  • Could anything be made easier to understand by tables or charts or diagrams?
  • Technical and layout aspects
    If used, is the paragraph numbering correct?
  • Have I double checked spelling and grammar?  Are all apostrophes correct?
  • Are all bullet points and punctuation consistent?
  • Are all abbreviations consistent?  Do I need a Glossary if I have used a lot of jargon?  Is each abbreviation spelled out in full the first time it is used?
  • If there is a Table of Contents (TOC), are all headings and page numbers correct in it?
  • If Appendices are included are they all correctly labelled and included in the TOC?
  • Has someone else critiqued the report and have I used their feedback?
  • Have I done a final, detailed, word by word proof-read?

All ticks? Job well done!

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