Tips for writing a semi formal or formal Report in English
The most common mistake non-native speakers make when writing is with articles, and specifically the definitive article, the. Typical mistakes are with abstract nouns, for example…
The education is important. Incorrect
Education is an abstract, uncountable noun.
Education is important. Correct
Here’s a tip.
If you write a noun that finishes with…
• tion – ex. separation
• ment – ex. excitement
• ness – ex. happiness
• ism – ex. communism
• ality – ex. formality
• ity – ex. stupidity
• ogy – ex. technology
Think carefully – they are abstract!
You can use the with an abstract noun if you add a countable or more specific noun.
The education system. Correct
Converting active to passive
Another simple trick is to convert active informal sentences into passive formal structures or using more formal word forms.
You told me.
I was informed
I asked for.
He gave me.
I was given
It was the general consensus
It was agreed.
How to transform a paragraph’s register
Transforming a basic informal paragraph into a formal paragraph is also very easy. Below is an example from a Report.
I gave students a questionnaire which they completed. I asked for their opinions and feedback on the situation at school. They responded,
• lack of space
• old software
Students were given (passive) a questionnaire to complete (infinitive of purpose). Questions were designed (passive) to solicit (infinitive of purpose / no pronouns) opinions and feedback on the current situation (colocation) at school. Responses (direct subject) were as follows: (fixed phrase/correct punctuation)
• lack of space ✓
• outdated software (word choice).
Creating a professional bullet list
Creating a bullet or numbered list
There are some simple rules about bullet and numbered lists.
You should not write a sentence after a bullet or numbered list, use between 1 – 5 words only.
The first word form in your list must be consistent, but depends on the preceding sentence and word form that introduces the list, depending on the verb pattern normally used.
Students reported : (articles)
– a lack of space
– an inability to focus
– a clumsy login procedure
Students suggested: (present participle)
– recycling more paper
– saving water
– reducing heating times
Students considered the following as important: (abstract nouns)
– Freedom to experiment
– Enforcement of school policies
– Reciprocation of shared resources
Students expressed a desire to: (infinitive)
– Share resources
– Exchange information
– Practice more speaking