AFI2421 : Accounting standards and theory


Leicester Castle Business School


Accounting standards and theory

Module Code

AFI2421 : Accounting standards and theory

What is a report?
A report is a text written to communicate information. Some reports only communicate
information, while other reports not only communicate information, but also analyse and
evaluate that information. In your courses in the Business School, the reports you are
required to write belong to the latter category.
How do reports differ from essays?
Reports differ from essays in organisation
In an essay you are required to develop a logical argument in
response to a particular question. The intended reader of your
essay is your lecturer or tutor. Your lecturer or tutor is
interested to see how well you can construct a
convincing argument based on sound reasoning and
appropriate use of evidence. Usually there are no
sub-headings to indicate the structure of an essay.
The connection between stages of your argument
must be marked very clearly by transition sentences
that summarise what came before in order to
introduce the next stage of the argument. A reader
cannot read some parts of your essay to learn what
they want to know. A reader must read your entire
essay to understand how well you can argue.
In a report you can indicate the structure clearly by
using sub-headings for each section. Each section
has a distinct purpose. Sometimes the reader may
want to read one section of your report only so each
section must contain the type of information the
reader expects to find in that section.
Reports differ from essays in reader/writer relationship
Often you are writing your report not only for your lecturer to read, but also for an imagined
client in the business world. You should use language that is as clear and direct as possible
as you need to imagine you are writing for very busy people. Your language also needs to be
on the one hand respectful, because your reader is your 'client' or 'employer', but, on the
other hand, it needs to be authoritative, because you are the one with expert knowledge.
When you are writing an essay, in contrast, your reader is your lecturer or your tutor. Your
relationship with your lecturer or tutor is more like that of an apprentice with a master. You
want to display the extent to which you are learning to write about issues in the way that your
lecturer or tutor can write about them.
In spite of these differences reports and essays are similar in that the writing must be
based on analysis and critical thinking. The expression must be clear and precise and
without grammatical error.

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Why are you asked us to write a report? When you graduate and start working in a
graduate role it is assumed that you have written and spoken communication skills that make
you readily employable in commerce and economics related fields. All the report
assignments that you are asked to write are designed to ensure that you have excellent
report writing skills relevant to workplace requirements by the time you finish your degree.
What is the structure of a report?
Reports have a very clear structure that is signalled by subheadings. The table provided
below shows the purpose of each section and the appropriate contents for each section.
Other sections might be required when you write reports in commerce or for other
What format should be used for the report?
Each section of your report should have a clear heading and if required, each subsection a
clear subheading. This allows the reader to access quickly the information important to him
or her. Your headings and subheadings should make it clear to the reader how each part of
the report is related to other parts.
The "styles" tool on your word processor can help you choose the appropriate font and size
for each level of heading. There is nothing more confusing for readers than a report in which
the headings and subheadings look exactly the same.
Auto tools can also be used to create a table of content and add page numbers of the bottom
of each page of your report.
It is also important to make good use of space. Leave enough space between each
section to indicate that one section is finished and another will begin.
What are appropriate headings and subheadings?
The headings and subheadings you choose are very important. They will appear in the
Table of Contents as well as in the body of the report. They are the reader's first
impression of what you have to say. The headings and subheadings should be clear and
consistent in style.
The following are some pointers for the wording of headings and subheadings:
 Use nouns or noun phrases for your headings, e.g. Competitive advantages of
Company X; Macro-economic indicators in China.
 Make sure your subheadings are as parallel as possible, e.g. "Decrease in costs"
would be parallel with "Increase in passenger numbers" but not with "Increasing passenger
numbers". The first two begin with abstract nouns, while the third begins with a gerund.
 Do not use questions as headings (such as in this document). Questions are used for
informal documents in which the writer addresses the reader directly. You are expected to be
more formal in the reports you write in your courses.

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Section Contents Notes

The title of the report
Student ID Number
Module code (ACFI2421)
Tutor's name (synchronous
session tutor)

You do not need to put your name
on this assignment report but you
would need to include your name
in a report in business (so you can
claim the praise).


This is a short summary of the
whole report (for busy executives
to read!). It summarises the
report's purpose, findings,
conclusions and
It is like an abstract or a synopsis
and for your assignments should
be no more than 10% of your
total word count. This counts
towards your word count.

Make sure it is on a separate page
and is included before you table of


This lists the main sections of
the report as well as the second
and third level headings with
the page numbers on which
each occurs.

If you have used 'styles' with your
word processor for your headings
then you can get your word
processor to insert the Table of
Contents (TOC) for you.


The introduction usually includes:
 Brief background information
 Purpose (why?)
 Scope (what?)
 Outline (how?)

This provides an overview of the
report. Some of what is in the
introduction will also be in the
executive summary.
They are read separately for
separate purposes. It is important
to make the purpose of the report
very clear in the introduction.


This is the main part of your
report. The sections will vary
according to the way in which
you structure your work but we
would expect your work to
 Background information on BP
 Overview of Systems
Orientation Theory
 Review of your chosen theory
 Findings
 Discussion of rationale

Use a subheading and/or numbers
for each section. In most reports you
write at university the theoretical
framework is very important. First
you present a theoretical framework,
then your research findings, and
then a discussion of your findings in
the light of the theoretical
framework. Your findings are facts,
but your discussions are opinions.
Your language should reflect this


The conclusion provides a
summary and evaluation of the
report's findings with the key

You will always need to write a
conclusion. As with discussion of
your findings, the language you

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recommendations. It may also
identify the limitations of the
report. Ensure this is a
separate heading to

use in your conclusion will be
appropriately qualified.


The recommendations are a
summary in point or numbered
form of solutions or courses of
action that follow logically from
your interpretation of your
findings. Ensure this is a
separate heading to

You will not always be required to
list recommendations in a separate
section. Recommendations are
usually 'should' statements. They
are specific, indicating who should
do what, where, when, how, and
(sometimes) at what

APPENDIX – optional

This is where you put any charts,
tables and other information that
is too detailed to put in the body
of your report.

If the tables and charts are
very important you may need
to include them in the body of
the report.


This section provides a list of all
the books, articles, web sites,
interviews etc you have referred
to in your report.

Many reports in the workplace do
not have this section, but most
reports you write at university will
require you to refer to the literature
in your field. In most of your courses
you will be required to use the
Harvard referencing system (see
link on assignment brief).

Should you use 'academic English' in a report?
Students are sometimes confused because in Centre for English Language Learning (CELL)
pre-sessions courses and at school you are taught about the passive voice. Abstract
expressions are frequently used in academic writing, but when they read advice in books on
professional writing they are told to try to avoid such language
Reports written at university do require academic writing and what you have learned about
sentence construction in CELL language courses and other previous courses is relevant for
your writing of reports in an academic context. Books written to give advice on writing in the
workplace are trying to encourage writers to avoid unnecessarily complex and difficult
language. Sometimes in the workplace it may be possible to write reports using "we" and "I"
and "you" because the person or people who will read the report are well known to the writer.
This is not the case with the reports you write at university so you should maintain a less
familiar tone. In order to do this you will probably sometimes have to use the passive voice.
This is fine. The passive voice is used quite often in English because it makes it easy for us
to put the events, ideas and objects that interest us at the beginning of sentences rather than
the people who are responsible for these.

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