Report Writing Guidelines For Middle School

Gather information from at least three different sources.

Middle school students typically have different instructors for individual classes, and most teachers require students to write reports. Reports necessitate research; you gather and analyze information on a limited topic. Each teacher’s specifications vary slightly, but there are common threads. You must choose a topic, gather important facts, take notes and finalize the report, giving credit to your sources. Report-writing continues through high school and college, so it’s best to hone your research skills in middle school.

Select a Topic

Find a topic that’s appealing and specific. Make sure the subject interests you and fits the parameters of the assignment. A subject such as “fish” is too general; begin by limiting it to a subtopic, such as saltwater fish. List questions you have about the subtopic. Use a graphic organizer such as a cluster or a list to organize your thoughts. Read your list of questions and decide which one interests you most. Use that as the theme for your report.

Collect Information

Visit your school or public library to find information in books, encyclopedias, magazine articles and journals. Use the Internet as a resource, but proceed with caution. Articles on the Internet do not always include correct facts. You must use reputable sources and check publication dates. Interview or write to experts to gain knowledge on the topic. Use a variety of sources.

Take Notes

Write important facts and information on index cards. Turn the cards over and record pertinent reference information such as title, author, publisher, publication place, page number and copyright date. Review reference requirements beforehand. Write notes in your own words to avoid plagiarism. You must always give credit when you use someone else’s words or ideas.

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Create an Outline

Design a writing plan – an outline based on the notes you have written. Follow a logical sequence, including all main points. Under each main point, list the supporting details and how they relate to one another. An outline helps you organize thoughts and information.

Create a Working Draft

Develop the outline into paragraphs to create a first, “rough” draft. Make sure it flows logically without gaps; stick to your purpose for writing. Write in the third person – he, it, they – and use transition words to connect paragraphs. The introduction should state your purpose and the conclusion should restate the theme of the report. You generally need to read, reread, analyze and revise this draft many times.

Write the Final Report

The final report should follow your teacher’s guidelines. Most teachers require a title page, body paragraphs and a bibliography. Neatly write or type the report on 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper. Leave 2-inch margins around the perimeter of the body pages and number all pages except the first.