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Checklist for Reports

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Questions to ask yourself before handing your reports to your readers.

General Checklist

  • 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 organize 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?

Long Report

  • 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?