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Overview of the report. This report compares telescope types for the beginning astronomer.
Introduction. This introduction provides the necessary elements of an introduction: background, which is kep to a minimum in the first sentence; purpose, which indicates exactly what the report sets out to accomplish; audience, which is quietly indicated in the highlighted words; overview, which, overlapping the purpose statements, provides a roadmap of what the rest of the report contains.
Context note. Notice that this report is prepared for a local astronomy society. Whether or not this is actual fact, a context like this gives reports a realistic foundation.
Background. After taking care of the important requirements of an introduction (topic, purpose, audience, overview, and minimal background), this writer can provide more extensive background in this paragraph. Often this sequence is reversed, forcing readers to wade through lengthy introductory material before getting to any indication as to the purpose and contents of the report.
Sources of borrowed information. Throughout this report you see bracketed numbers. These are the indicators of information that the writer has borrowed from other sources to write this report.
Glossary of terms. This report rightly includes definitions of key terms used in the discussion of telescopes. This is a good idea, but perhaps the glossary could be moved to the end of the report, just before the information sources. A glossary this large in a report that is relatively brief interrupts the flow of the discussion.
Second-level headings. This report has six second-level headings for the major sections: glossary, requirements, comparisons, summary, recommendations, and sources. Notice that a heading is not used for the introduction: for a relatively short document like this one, we can assume that the paragraph just after the title is—or ought to be—introductory in nature.
Third-level headings. This report used third-level headings to mark each of the six individual point comparisons. Notice that the overview of the points of comparison is presented between the comparison heading and the cost heading.
Individual conclusions. In each comparison section, state a conclusion as to which option is best in terms of that point of comparison—either at the end of the section or at the beginning. Notice that the conclusion as to the telescope with the lowest cost is somewhat hard to determine in cost section. Don't make readers have to study to determine the conclusion—just state the conclusion outright. However, notice that conclusions are clearly stated at the end of the other comparison sections.
Summary table. Whenever possible, provide an alternate view of the key facts and conclusions in a report—as does this summary table. Notice that readers get three chances, possibly four, to see the key information in this report: in the discussion contained in comparison sections; in this summary table; in the conclusions section, which is next; and possibly in the recommendation section. Seem repetitive? It is, but it is a report design that enables readers to get the key information no matter how little of the report they read and no matter what order they read it in.
Conclusions. This conclusion section provides a review of the key comparative points discussed in the preceding sections of the report. However, it does not provide secondary or final conclusions. That is probably because the range of uses is so great. Still, it would be a good idea to include some indication of the logic that enables the writer exclude the other telescopes.
Recommendation section. This recommendation section provides the rationale for choosing the option it does. The secondary conclusions, normally placed in the conclusions section, are stated here.
Information sources. At the end of the report, we have the list of information sources. This report uses the number system in which the sources are numbered, and these numbers are used along with page references in the body of the report to indicate the source of borrowed information.
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