How to Write a Geological Report

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A technical report can provide a description of the geological characteristics of a specific area or region. Geological reports may be very detailed or brief, depending on the project and its level of complexity. Professional geological engineers write reports about observations and investigations. Students can also demonstrate their findings about an experiment or field survey. Geological reports include front matter, a body and end matter. Whether you are a professional or a student, you can write your own geological report and discuss your findings.

Determine if there is a specific format you should use. You should create a detailed, acceptable and complete description of your project. The Washington State Geologist Licensing Board has posted a document on its website for assisting and improving geological reports: "Guidelines for Preparing Engineering Geology Reports." Most geological reports use American Psychological Association (APA) style, which you can find at the Perdue Online Writing Lab website.

Draft your front matter. The front matter is the who, what, where, why and how of your geological report. You will not complete the page numbers in your table of contents or list of figures and tables until you finish your report. Drafting it early will help you organize your report.

Front matter for a geological report generally includes:

A "Title Page," listing the title, author and date.

An "Abstract," approximately 100 words about your key topic, your approach to the topic, results and conclusions.

A "Table of Contents," if your document is 10 pages or longer.

If you have drawings, images, charts or tables, include a "List of Figures and Tables," somewhat like a table of contents for graphics.

Compose the body of your report. The body of the report is where you inform and convince your reader by establishing trust and documenting procedures and actions. The body will usually include:

An "Introduction" that describes the purpose of your investigation or experiment, from general to specific; the problem that you are reporting about; and why it is important that you approach the problem in the way that you did.

A "Background" section that explains any theories that you have used and describes the purpose of your study or report.

A "Materials" or "Apparatus" section that describes specific equipment or specific software that you used in your study.

A "Procedure" section, where you describe any experiments or methods of collecting data that you have used.

A "Discussion" section allows you to describe if the data collected were predicted in the theory.

Finally, a "Conclusion" that clearly summarizes your findings.

Collect your end matter. Your end matter is supporting material for your geological report. End matter includes:

A "References" section that provides any references or resources that you have cited or used.

An "Appendixes" section, which includes any additional figures, tables or surveys that you have calculated, created or collected.

Write your report. Arrange your report in the appropriate format. Number your pages. Designate all of the front matter with Roman numerals. The body of your report should begin your page numbers in consecutive order. Appendixes should be designated in capitalized alphabetical order, beginning with "Appendix A."