Report Guidelines

General Guidelines, Grammar Tips, Citing Sources, Quiz

What is one of the easiest ways to impress your professors:
(A) Use professional-looking plastic covers for all of your papers
(B) Print your reports on resume-quality paper
(C) Provide a blank sheet at the back for comments
(D) Proofread and correct silly mistakes.

Perhaps all of the above? Actually, you can undoubtedly impress your professors if you proofread and correct silly mistakes (D). So keep this article in mind as you prepare to turn in proof of your brilliant ideas.

General Guidelines

  • Remember to spell check
    You will still need to proofread, though. Spell checkers cannot correct your mistake if you type there instead of their.
  • Be careful with homonyms
    Their vs. there
    Its (= it is) vs. its (indicates possession)
    Principle vs. principal
  • Write your first draft with time to spare
    You will have fresher eyes for catching errors and improving the style if you take a break before making revisions.
  • Avoid gender identification unless we know the persons identity
  • Avoid overused words, such as basically
  • The word data is plural
    These data are rather than This data is
  • Dont start a sentence with a symbol
    1996 marked the first year of production. (incorrect)
    X varied more than Y. (incorrect)
  • Use parentheses to indicate multiplication
    4,000(1.1) (correct)
    4,000*1.1 (incorrect)
    4,000 x 1.1 (incorrect)
  • Use a superscript or ^ for power
    0.52 (correct)
    0.5^2 (correct)
  • Put a space before and after an = sign
    x = y (correct)
    x=y (incorrect)
  • Put a 0 in front of a decimal point if needed
    0.5 (correct)
    .5 (incorrect)
  • Use an em-dash—in place of a double hyphen--
    The economy will boom—at least until the election—and profits should be robust.
  • Put one space, not two, after a period or colon
    Wolfy is happy. Therefore, she wags her tail. (correct)
    Wolfy is happy.  Therefore, she wags her tail. (incorrect)
  • Use smart quotes instead of dumb quotes
    The eagle has landed. (correct)
    "The eagle has landed." (incorrect)

Grammar Tips

  • Avoid split infinitives
    I need to carefully check my work. (incorrect)
    I need to check my work carefully. (correct)
  • Avoid hopefully
    Hopefully, the dog will be able to safely cross the road. (incorrect)
    I hope that the dog will be able to cross the road safely. (correct)
  • Hyphens
    Well-built car vs. reasonably priced car (both correct)
    Good-fielding shortstop vs. wonderfully talented shortstop (both correct)
  • That vs. Which
    This class is in the Carnegie Building, which was constructed in 1929. (correct)
    This is the only Pomona building that was constructed in 1929. (correct)
  • Avoid I believe, I think
    I believe that we should use a histogram to display these data. (incorrect)
    We used a histogram to display these data. (correct)
    Figure 1 uses a histogram to display these data. (correct)
    **Remember: data = plural form of datum
  • Passive vs. Active
    It is to be hoped that the pattern in these data is apparent. (incorrect)
    These data show a clear pattern. (correct)
    Upon close inspection, it can be seen clearly that there is no relationship between presidential ages and life expectancies. (incorrect)
    Clearly, life expectancies are not correlated with presidential ages.
    (correct)
  • A repetitive structure can be deadly; parallel construction can be effective
    We went to the library and found the data. We talked to the reference librarian and she was very helpful. We went to the computer center and graphed the data. (incorrect)
    We came. We saw. We conquered. (correct)
  • Vary sentence lengths and structure
    Jasper will be a terrific employee—easily among the best we have sent you in the past five years. Hire him. Promote him. Treasure him.

Citing Sources

  • Parenthetical Citations
    • Authors name is mentioned in the sentence.
      According to H.G. Wells, one day statistical thinking will be as necessary to efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write(102).
    • Authors name is not mentioned in sentence.
      One of the difficulties with the classical approach to probabilities is that there may be compelling evidence that the possible events are not equally likely(Smith 75).
  • Works Cited
    • Book
      Last name of author, First name. Title of book. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
      Example: Smith, Gary. Statistical Reasoning. United States: McGraw-Hill, 1994.
    • Author with an editor
      Last name of author, First name. Title of book. Ed. Editors Name. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
      Example: Reiser, Paul. Couplehood . Ed. Rob Weisbach. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.
    • Work in an anthology
      Last name of author, First name. Title. Name of anthology. Ed. Name of editor. Place of publication: Publisher, Year. Page number/s.
      Example: Friedman, Milton ,and Leonard J. Savage. The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk. Readings in Price Theory. Eds. J.G. Stigler and K.E. Boulding. Homewood, Illinois: Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1952. 318.
    • Article in a monthly magazine
      Last name, First name. Title of article. Name of magazine Month Year: Page number/s.
      Example: Dash, Judy. You Take Care of Your Family. Family Circle. May 1998: 97-99.
    • Article in a Journal
      Last name, First name. Title of article. Name of journal Volume number.Issue number (Year): Page number/s.
      Example: Modigliani, Franco. New Developments on the Oligopoly Front. Journal of Political Economy 66.3 (1958): 204-17.
    • Online Information
      Last name, First name. Title of article. Name of source Date of source. Online. Name of internet provider. Date of access.
      Example: Morgenstern, Oskar. Demand Theory Reconsidered. Quarterly Journal of Economics. Feb. 1995. Online. Microsoft Network. 8 Jan. 1999.
    • Government Publications
      Name of government. Name of government agency. Name of material. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
      Example: United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment Trends in 1998. Washington: GPO, 1999.

Report Guidelines Quiz

1. What is the easiest way to impress your professors?
Print your report on resume-quality paper
Use plastic covers
Proofread and revise
Attach extra sheet for comments

2. Which sentence is incorrect?
We used a histogram to display these data.
The trend in these data is clear.
I wrote last week's memo, which examined the heights of presidents.
They need to carefully check the oven.

3. Choose the best example of parallel construction.
We came. We saw. We left.
Figure 1 shows recent oil prices. Figure 2 shows recent GDP levels.
We graphed the data using Excel. We then analyzed it using SPSS.
We went to the library and found the data. We also talked to the reference librarian.

4. Which sentence is not grammatically correct?
Figure 1 uses a histogram to display these data.
This is the only car that was manufactured in Italy.
I co-authored the paper which examined the relationship between consumer spending and the weather.
I hope that the whale will regain its strength.

5. Choose the correct works cited entry for a book.
First name, Last name. Title. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
Last name, First name. Title. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
Last name, First name. Title. Publisher: Place of publication, Year.
Last name, First name. Title. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.

Score =
Correct answers:

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