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How to Write an Informational Report

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  • 0:04 Topic & Thesis Statement
  • 1:32 Facts & Research
  • 2:07 Writing Plan
  • 4:25 Conclusion
  • 5:05 Source Citations
  • 5:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tara Turzi
This lesson will show you how to write a three-paragraph informational report. It will provide tips and examples to help you gather your facts and present a clear, focused report.

Topic & Thesis Statement

So you need to write an informational report and you're not even sure what it is. An informational report explains a topic using facts. It should not persuade the reader or argue a point, and it should definitely avoid using any opinions. The main goal is to inform readers about a topic.

The first thing to do when writing an informational report is to select an appropriate topic, or a specific subject, for the report. Remember that the goal is to inform readers, so you want to avoid any controversial topics. For example, it might be more difficult to write an informational report on a controversial topic like global warming as opposed to a more neutral topic like gardening. Instead, choose a topic where you can do some research and neutrally present the facts. Once you've selected a topic, it's time to narrow your focus. If the topic is very broad, the report could go on forever and lose focus. You want to narrow the subject down to a topic that can be covered in just three paragraphs. For example, the topic of gardening is a very broad topic, but showing readers how to grow herbs in a pot is a much more manageable topic.

After you've chosen your topic, you can write your thesis statement, or the point of your report. It should be a single, clear sentence placed at the end of the introduction. When you have a thesis in place, it makes the writing process much more focused. You know what you want to say, so you can eliminate anything you don't.

Here's an example of a thesis statement:

There are three effects of smoking on the body.

Facts & Research

Now it's time to gather your facts, or known, proven statements, for the report. There are many great resources out there, but research can be overwhelming. That's why it's best to avoid unreliable sources like .com websites that are only interested in selling you something. Instead, try to find more academic sources like peer-reviewed journals, reference books, and even government reports. Be sure that the authors and sources are credible, and cross-reference your facts among many sources to determine consistency. If the same fact is reported in 3-4 different sources, you can probably conclude that the fact is true.

Writing Plan

Once you have the facts you need, it's time to write your report. It helps to start with a plan. A three paragraph report includes an introduction, a body paragraph, and a conclusion. Each part has a purpose in the essay. The introduction is where you'll establish the topic and present your thesis. The body paragraph is where you'll present the facts and provide details about the topic. The conclusion is where you'll sum up what you've said and draw the report to a close.

Here's a sample introduction:

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US (cite). Smoking is also the cause of nearly 500,000 deaths per year in America. There are obvious effects to smoking like premature wrinkles and stained teeth and hands, but there are several more serious effects a smoker may encounter. There are three main effects of smoking on the body.

Let's break down that body paragraph a bit further. When presenting the facts, you want to do three things: summarize, paraphrase, and quote. Direct quotes are useful when presenting a specific statistic or an expert opinion, but your report should not just be a series of quotes. Instead, it should be a compilation of the facts written in your own words. Summarizing involves condensing source material into a shorter passage This is an effective way to combine a variety of sources. You can also use paraphrasing, which is similar to summarizing and involves taking a short passage from a source and presenting it in your own words. You'll want to use a combination of all three approaches when reporting the facts.

Let's take a look at a sample body paragraph:

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