A relative merit report is used to determine the benefits of two opposing choices or options. These useful reports are composed by comparing two similar objects or paths and pointing out the positive aspects of each option. Readers of a relative merit report use the information it contains to make a more informed decision and systematically explore the options. Relative merit reports can be composed for many reasons, but the basic format of the report is the same for all purposes.
Describe the objects being compared separately. Do not actually compare the items, instead discussing them as individual items, distinct and separate from each other.
Explain the testing or observation procedure. Provide details about the procedure or data that you will be using to compare the two objects. This information adds validity to your report and allows readers to judge the quality of your findings.
Discuss the merits of the first object. Explain its benefits, pointing out strengths and providing detailed observational or numeric data to support your points.
Discuss the merits of the second object. Provide an equally detailed explanation of the benefits of the second object. Resist the urge to compare the objects at this point.
Compare the qualitative and quantitative merits of both objects. In the final section of your report, directly compare the merits of each object. Use qualitative or observational measures as well as quantitative, or numerically based measures.
Add charts and diagrams for clarity. Whenever possible, graph quantitative measures. This visual representation of numeric data makes it easier for observers to determine the benefits of each object.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.