- Levels of headings to include. In longer reports, consider only including the top two levels of headings. This keeps the TOC from becoming long and unwieldy. The TOC should provide an at-a-glance way of finding information in the report quickly.
- Indentation, spacing, and capitalization. Notice in Figure 2 that items in each of the three levels of headings are aligned with each other and page numbers are right-aligned with each other. Notice also the capitalization: Main chapters or sections are all caps; first-level headings use initial caps on each main word; lower-level sections use initial caps on the first word only.
- Vertical spacing. Notice that the first-level sections have extra space above and below, which increases readability.
If you have used specially formatted headings when creating the body of the document, then these tables can be quickly generated by the word processing software. For example, if you use Microsoft Word’s styles for headings, the reference toolbar will offer a choice of formats and generate the TOC automatically.
Tables of Exhibits or Illustrations
There may be a few different situations in which you should use additional tables of exhibits or illustrations; for example, these tables may be useful to include if your figures or tables are referred to repeatedly throughout your text. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, you should include a table of exhibits when your report is approximately 15 pages or more. This also allows your readers to flip between exhibits more easily in order to compare them.
An executive sume says: it summarizes all the materials that follow in the report. This section is different from an introduction as it summarizes the entire report, rather than simply introducing it or laying out the structure for the reader. A good way to approach the executive summary is to write it as if the executive or decision maker will only read this section, even though that’s unlikely to be the case.This section is found in longer reports and is less likely to be found in a shorter report. It can also be used in both informational and analytical reports.
Executive summaries should be written after the entire report is completed. This allows the browse around this website summary to be both comprehensive and well structured. Remember, the investigation and details of the report must be complete and validated before the summary can be written.
This section is offered in paragraph format, with a paragraph summarizing each section in the report; thus, the executive sume order as the report. The executive summary rarely includes images or graphics; however, a table might be offered at the end of this section if the recommendation or options can be easily summarized into a table. In sales or recommendation situations, the executive summary takes on greater importance. It must clearly demonstrate that the analyses in the report are comprehensive and thorough, and it must clearly lead the reader to the author’s desired conclusion.
Most importantly, all this must be done with brevity. Most executive summaries are at most two to three pages, but length varies in proportion to the complexity and length of the report.
What About Abstracts?
An abstract is very similar to an executive summary, although it is far more likely to be found in an informational report than an analytical report. An abstract may help readers determine if the remainder of the document is relevant to their needs. Abstracts tend to be one page or less. Additionally, abstracts are typically used in more scholarly writing, such as business research projects. Samples and and advice on abstracts may be found at Purdue OWL.