Is it time to write your first report? Try not to get too daunted. Think of the report writing process as a fun project and break it into stages.

Stage 1: Pick a topic

What do you want to write your report on? Has your teacher given you any guidelines?

You need to pick a topic that

1) You'll enjoy learning about;

2) You'll enjoy learning a lot about for the time it takes to complete the research; and,

3) Your topic is big enough to fill up your report, but little enough that it won't overflow your space.

Step 2: Research your topic

Learn as much about your topic as you can. Do to this:

1) Go to the library and check out some books. Read them. Don't be afraid of the children's section of the library. Children's books often provide a clear, concise overview of your topic. They get your feet wet. Once you've read a few children's books, you might be more comfortable in the young adult or adult section of the library. The details in those books can add to your basic understanding.

2) Go online and find videos to watch. You can start at YouTube, but, for many topics, good videos exist at places like ehow.com, ask.com, the history channel, and the discovery channel.

3) Check out relevant DVDs from the library. Some people learn better from the audio and visual combination together.

4) Are there any magazine or journals that cover your field? Newspaper articles? Look for current information in periodicals. Do a search (on Google or yahoo or wolfram alpha) for your topic with the word journal after it.

Step 3: Write an outline

Write your outline. A basic outline has an introduction. State your thesis in the introduction. That is, a report is not a mystery novel. Tell your readers what the point of your report is right at the beginning. So, your report should have an introduction, several supporting parts, and a conclusion. That is the minimal content.

Step 4: Write a draft

Start writing and come up with a first draft. For your first draft, just write. Get something down on paper, but follow your outline.

Once you have words down on paper and you've covered your outline, then you can make a first round of editing it. For the first round, just fix your paper to make sure that it has a logical flow (preferably following your outline) and that your grammar is okay.

Step 5: Get someone to proofread your draft

By this time, you'll be immersed in your paper. You either need to completely get away from your paper for a few days or have someone else proofread it.

Step 6: Finalize your report

Make the last round of changes. If possible, wait a few days and read it again before you submit it.

Good luck with your first report.

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