Write reports and essays

As part of your TAFE Illawarra study you may be required to write an essay or report.

Both essays and reports will need you to do research, structure your writing, use appropriate language and carefully revise for written errors. You will also be required to provide a bibliography.

Writing an essay or report for the first time can be a challenge, but with practice it will become easier!

A red notebook lies open on top of a laptop keyboard, with a blue pen resting between its pages.

Things to do

Write essays

An essay aims to discuss and/or argue an idea in clear appropriate language. It requires clear presentation and critical thinking in relation to the discussion/argument. The structure of an essay includes an introduction, body (main points/arguments) and a conclusion. It has a formal style of writing and requires careful proofreading and clear presentation.

When writing an essay:

  • get started on writing tasks early
  • check your understanding of the question or task
  • start with broad research and then narrow your focus repeat your key message.

It is a good idea to review your key points and structure of your essay in your draft stage.

You can use the Sample Essay Writing Plan at the bottom of this page to help you get started.

Watch this video to learn how to plan your essay.


Write reports

A report aims to inform the reader in a concise language. It requires clear presentation of analytical thinking. A report consists of an introduction, body and a conclusion. It will have a table of contents, graphs and diagrams and will make recommendations. It uses a formal style with technical language and should also be carefully proof read.

When writing a report:

  • stick to the facts
  • be clear about the end product you need to achieve
  • use appropriate language.

You can use the Sample Report Writing Plan at the bottom of this page to help you get started.

Edit and check your work

The content and understanding displayed in your work is important, so ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really understand what the question asks me to do?
  • From reading the first sentence of my answer, does the reader know both what the question is and how I will develop my answer?
  • Do the major points stand out?
  • Are the major points supported with examples and facts?
  • Are there clear transitions between the major points?
  • Would someone who has not taken this class be able to understand the concept or results discussed in the way I explained it?
  • Have I completely covered all major points needed to answer the question?
  • Did I stick to the question?
  • Have I concluded with a summary statement?

The final presentation and style of your work is also important. Here are some tips to help you structure your reports:

  • Proof read for misspelled words, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, comma splices, subject-verb or pronoun/antecedent agreement errors, and other errors that might prevent the reader from understanding what you have written.
  • Use formal language avoiding “first person” words such as I, me, them, etc.
  • Use consistent and appropriate formatting.
  • Make sure your handwriting is readable and leave enough space for comments or additions.
  • Use plenty of white space.
  • Ensure the separate parts of your work stand out clearly.
  • Use subheadings as appropriate.
  • Allow generous spacing between the elements of your work.
  • In reports, use dot points/ numbers/ letters to articulate these elements.
  • Use tables and figures (graphs, images, maps, etc.) for clarification.
  • Number each page.

Activity sheets

  • Sample Essay Writing Plan [DOCX] | [PDF]
  • Sample Report Writing Plan [DOCX] | [PDF]