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10 Minute Guide to Format a Report

Thursday, October 8th, 2009 by | Filed Under: MS Word

This article describes a sequence of steps which can be performed to quickly create a report that is well formatted, neat and presentable. While this tutorial is in significant detail, it should not take more than 10 minutes to perform these actions on a report (i.e. 10 minutes would be the time required to completely format a report.) At the end of it all, a few generally accepted formatting schemes are mentioned as guidelines

The following areas are addressed as part of this tutorial

-Text Formatting (Justifying Report Content)
-Adjusting Paragraph Spacing
-Utiling the Heading Style Buttons
-Adding Page Borders
-Header and Footer (With Report Title and Page No.)
-Adding a Table of Contents (Clickable)
-Adding a Cover Page
-Generally Accepted Formatting Schemes

Text Formatting (Justifying Report Content)

Select the entire content of the report. Remove the different spacing styles by clicking on the “No Spacing” icon amongst the heading styles as indicated below. Then select all the text and click on the “Justify” icon in the toolbar or use the shortcut “Ctrl + J


Adjusting Paragraph Spacing

Select the entire content of the report. Adjust Paragraph Spacing by opening the “Paragraph” dialog box. Change the “Line Spacing” dropdown box as required. (Normally, a line spacing of 1.5 is used in most reports). Screenshots are indicated below


Utilizing the Heading Style Buttons

Many people do not realize the power of the “Heading Style Buttons” which are available in Microsoft Word. These buttons can be pre-formatted with a specific heading style which can then be applied to all headings by just selecting the heading and clicking on the button. Heading Styles 1, 2 and 3 can be utilized for section headings, topics and sub-topics respectively. This helps ensure consistency and uniformity in the formatting styles used in the report. Further this can also be utilized to generate a “clickable” table of contents.

-In order to set the format of a heading style, right click the “Heading Style Button” and click on
-Modify the style as required using the available options and click on “OK”.
-Now, to apply this style to any heading, just select the heading (or leave the cursor on the
heading) and click on the “Heading Style Button”.


Adding Page Borders

Select the entire report. Click on “Page Layout”. Click on “Page Borders”. Select a suitable style and click “OK”. Screenshots are indicated below.


Header and Footer (With Report Title and Page No.)

-In order to add the Header, click on “Insert>Header”. Choose a style as appropriate and add text
(e.g. Report Title, Section Title, Author’s Name etc.)
-In order to add a Footer, click on “Insert>Footer”. Choose a style as appropriate and add text
-In order to add Page Numbers, Click on “Insert>Page Numbers” and choose where to display the
Page Number. The page numbers can be formatted as required.
-In order to prevent the First Page from displaying the Header, Footer and Page Numbers click on the
option “Different First Page” while adding these. This ensures that the first page can be used for the
Cover Page without any of these being displayed.

Adding a Table of Contents

In order to add a table of contents, click on “References>Table of Contents” and choose a style as required. This adds a table of contents (Toc) with “clickable links”. Use “Ctrl + Click” to to navigate to a section of the report from the ToC.
Whenever any changes are made to the report, as a precaution before saving the report, right click the ToC and select “Update Field”. If only content is moved across pages, then update page numbers alone should suffice. Otherwise, update the entire table.


Adding a Cover Page

-One can either use a prexisting style for the Cover Page from within Word or design the cover
page on their own.
-In order to use an existing style, click on “Insert> Cover Page” and choose a suitable style.

Generally Accepted Formatting Schemes

-Times New Roman, Regular Text Font Size 12, Heading Text Font Size 16, Line Spacing 1.5
-Arial, Regular TextFont Size 11, Heading Text Font Size 15, Line Spacing 1.15
-Calibri, Regular Text Font Size 11, Heading Text Font Size 14, Line Spacing 1.1

Additional Tips

-Using Heading Text Styles will reduce the amount of effort which goes into formatting the
headings while simultaneously ensuring consistency and uniformity.
-Adding a Clickable Index will add structure to your report and help provide easier access to
information available in long reports
-Adding a Thick Page Border will make a report look more presentable, especially if it is being
utilized in a soft copy format.

~Deepak Kannan

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