Reports: tell the reader what the report is about!

A very Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you have all had a good holiday and yes – it’s time to get back to work and back to the classroom. I have already been hard at work marking my students’ coursework which they handed in at the end of last term. As I read my students’ reports I notice that the best ones are the ones which have clear introductions. In Academic English you have to tell people what they are going to read about!  Use straightforward language with sentences which are not too long. Students are often surprised when I tell them that they shouldn’t write very long sentences. A lot of students think that longer sentences shows they are being intellectual, and they will get a better mark. Well, let me show you something.

This is an extract from a real report about the impact that international students have on the economy of London. Just think about that for a moment. What do you think the effect of all those international students living and studying in London is on the city? (Yes, now you can start to imagine why businesses and universities are so angry with the government for making it harder for students to come into the UK!) Now look at this extract from the report:

1.1. The brief London Higher commissioned Oxford Economics to undertake an analysis of the contribution international students make to London’s economy. The key areas to be included in the quantification of this
contribution are:

  • Subsistence
  • Fees
  • Family visits while studying in London.

In addition, Oxford Economics were requested to calculate the economic contribution of the sub-set of students from:

  • Mainland China, India and USA.

1.2. Report structure
The remainder of the report is structured as follows:

  • The remainder of this chapter provides background information about international students studying in London.
  • Chapter 2 outlines the economic contribution of London’s international students to the UK economy.
  • Chapter 3 provides information on the number of international students who are sponsored by their employer along with estimates for the proportion of international students who remain in London after completing their studies.

Oxford Economics (2007) The economic impact of London’s international students


It’s a real document and it is a perfect example of how to introduce a report. After reading the introduction the reader knows what the report is about and the structure of the report.

Follow the link to look at the rest of the report: short easy to read sentences!