Writing a formal report

Learning focus

Learn how to use formal language and key features to write a formal report.

This lesson includes:

  • one video

  • three activities


Watch this video to find more about writing a great report.

Learn about writing a report.

Formal language

The purpose of your writing, as well as your audience, will help you decide whether to use a formal or informal style of language.

In an informative report, formal language is used and may include the following features:

  • A serious tone
  • Language that is clear and to the point
  • Specialist vocabulary for the subject
  • No slang or contractions (there is instead of there’s)
  • Complex sentences

For example

  • Formal: ‘We must go to the library and study.’

  • Informal: ‘We’ve got to head to the library and hit the books!’

How to write a formal report

  • Research your topic first. Find out key facts and interesting information.

  • Include a brief introduction. Explain what or who you are writing about and why it or they are special.

  • Use sub-headings to break up your writing into easily identifiable sections.

  • Use formal language.

  • Only include facts, not opinions. Use statistics or studies to support your points.

  • Think about your layout. Use paragraphs and add pictures to illustrate key points.


You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Can you complete this quiz about the features of writing a formal report?

Activity 2

Read this article about the famous fossil hunter Mary Anning.

As you read, look out for the key features of report writing.

When you’ve finished, answer the questions below in full sentences.

  1. What is the title of the article?

  2. How many sub-headings are there? Name one.

  3. Did you spot any examples of technical language? Give an example.

  4. How is the information organised?

  5. Are any photographs or illustrations used? Why do you think this is?

You can check your answers using this suggested answer sheet.

Activity 3

Think of your favourite celebrity, musician, sportsperson or hero and write a formal report about them.

Remember to:

  • research your topic first
  • include a brief introduction
  • use sub-headings
  • use formal language
  • only include facts, not opinions
  • think about your layout

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt to write a formal report.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you to understand more about formal report writing:

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