Literacy Ideas

How to Write an Excellent Information Report

Information Report | 1 information report writing | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |


It is no surprise that informational texts are given a position of primary importance in most English curricula – we are in the information age, after all. From the ELA Standards of U.S. Common Core to the Literacy Requirements of the National Curriculum for England, non-fiction genres, in general, are given central positions in our teaching schedules. Acquiring the broad range of skills necessary to produce these texts competently takes time. Let’s take a look at the main features and organizational aspects of information reports to help set our students on the path to writing success.

Regardless of what genre we aim to teach our students, it is crucial that they develop an awareness of the different approaches required when writing for various purposes. Students need to be able to select the correct tools and structures for the job, and this starts with the students defining the text’s purpose.

Information reports present factual information to inform the reader about a specific topic. Examples of information reports may be found in encyclopedias, reference books, technical texts, social studies books, science books, magazines, and even internet websites. These may all be classed as forms of information texts. Despite this very broad range, it is useful to describe information reports in relation to several standard features, which are explained below.

Visual Writing Prompts


Information Report | WHAT IS AN INFORMATION REPORT | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |

An information report provides readers with information on a chosen topic by providing them with facts.


Generally, an information report is written to provide facts about a living or non-living object.  It can be an individual object or a group of objects.  Some suggestions are.

  • Sea Creatures
  • The Bald Eagle
  • The Titanic

The challenge in writing a good information report is to provide the audience with plenty of facts and evidence about a topic without providing a personal opinion.  If you do include personal opinion, essentially, you are writing a persuasive ( also known as an expository ) text.  If you are writing about a class of objects, such as sharks, it is important to highlight the differences and similarities between the objects.


Information Report | information report unit 1 1 | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |

An entire unit of  INFORMATION REPORT WRITING and INFORMATIONAL TEXTS  awaits you. NO PREP REQUIRED. This editable PowerPoint bundle will allow you to teach your students how to write excellent Information reports using a proven model based on research skills, writing strategies and engaging content. The bundle includes  96 PAGES  of:


You will frequently encounter informational texts in your reading for both work and pleasure and whilst there are many variations, they generally fall into these three main categories.

Scientific Reports:  Usually focuses on describing of appearance and behaviour of the subject of your report.

Technological Reports :  Usually focus on two main categories of information. Those are the components and uses of the technology.

Social Studies Reports:  Usually focuses on the description of people, places, history, geography, society, culture and economy.


Information report structure.

INTRODUCTION Classify your topic, and describe the aspects, features or characteristics of the subject.

PARAGRAPHS Will be used to organise your information report. Use paragraphs to elaborate on your subject.

IMAGES Labelled diagrams such as maps, diagrams and pictures support and extend your written information.

SUBHEADINGS Keep your report in a logical state and ordered. It also helps the reader find key information quickly.


SPECIALIZED VOCABULARY Allows for more information to be shared with minimal text.

THIRD PERSON PERSPECTIVE Relays information from an impersonal position devoid of strong emotive language.

COMPARATIVE LANGUAGE Such as compared to, smaller than, greatest, different form is used to provide context

DEFINITIONS Of uncommon or unfamiliar language may be required in parts to assist the reader


Teaching students how to write information reports offers an excellent opportunity to introduce research skills to your students. For more advanced students, it creates opportunities for them to hone these important skills further. There are also several different processes students need to develop to ensure that they can filter their research for relevancy and accuracy. Let’s take a look at these:

1. Define the Scope of the Topic

If the scope of the topic is not defined precisely, considerable energy can be wasted at the research stage – especially if internet research is undertaken! Undoubtedly, you will know this from your own experience. How many man and woman hours have been wasted as our own research takes us down a pesky internet cul-de-sac?

2. Uncover Important Keywords and Phrases

Information Report | science report information report | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |

The importance of keywords and subject-specific vocabulary in writing an information report has already been mentioned. However, generating these keywords and phrases is also crucial for the research stage when using the internet. Search engines are only as valuable as the terms that are searched. The research process will help students refine and filter the concepts and vocabulary they will use in writing their text.

3 Evaluate Sources

After selecting their search terms, students must look at and evaluate the returned sources. This is best achieved by the teacher reviewing various examples and modelling the criteria used to select the most valuable. Students are often not required to cite research papers at the school level, etc. But they should begin the process of ranking information in terms of its legitimacy. This is a long-term objective, but the teaching of this genre of writing offers ample opportunities for introducing this complex idea. Teaching this objective may involve lessons on things like distinguishing fact from opinion, how to spot bias, detecting fake news/satire, cross-referencing sources etc.

4 Develop Note-Taking Skills

The research stage of writing an information report affords students a valuable opportunity to develop their note-taking skills. The ability to mine information for the key points is an essential skill for a student to develop. Obviously, note-taking is a complex skill and will necessarily be differentiated according to the student’s age and abilities.

Information Report | 2 research strategies for students | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |

As an information report is a factual piece of writing focused on attention to detail, you must ensure your students are provided with an opportunity to research their topic.  Ensure they use technical language when required and have a collection of useful facts to include.  

The research will be a significant part of your lesson time, so please ensure you allow this before expecting them to contribute anything worthwhile.

Although we strongly encourage using visuals, leave this until all writing has been drafted, written and edited .  It should support a robust written report first and foremost. Using grap hic organizers, planning tools, and writing checklists will greatly assist the planning and editing time. We have an in-depth article on student research strategies to explore here.


Information Report | Screenshot 2022 09 21 161851 | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |

When considering how to organize the structure of an information report, the purpose of the text must be at the forefront of the student’s decision-making. The complexity of the textual organization will again depend on the student’s grade level and ability; however, the general structure will be as follows:

1. Table of Contents

A table of contents should be included for longer information texts. It should outline where specific information can be found in the document or the text. For longer texts, each section should correspond to a page number on the table of contents. For shorter texts, this may be numbered sections instead of page numbers. This will allow the reader to locate specific information that is being searched for without having to read through the whole text. Page numbers can be entered on the table of contents after the text is completed.

2. Introduction

As with other writing genres, information texts must first use a hook to grab the reader’s attention. This hook may take the form of an interesting fact or statistic, an anecdote or a question etc. Fundamentally, the introduction to the text must orientate the reader to the topic in question. It should outline what the reader can expect to learn within the body of the text.

3. Subheadings

The main job of the student when writing an informational text is to organize the information so that the reader can easily understand it. To help the reader achieve this, they need to organize their ideas into paragraphs and to help the reader locate the information on each of these ideas; each paragraph should contain a subheading. These subheadings can also provide titles for the table of contents.

Check out our complete guide to writing perfect paragraphs and sentence structure.

Subheadings are necessary to help your students organize their information by focusing on various aspects of the topic as a whole. For example, if the focus of the information report is an animal, then subsequent subheadings may be something along the lines of appearance , habitat , diet etc. Each subheading will consist of at least one paragraph that constitutes a separate section in the body of the text.

These subheadings often emerge organically as the student undertakes their research before writing. Subheadings may also be accompanied by relevant drawings, maps, tables etc., that summarize the information contained within.

The first sentence of each section should begin with a topic sentence expressing that paragraph’s main idea or topic. The following sentence will provide more detail on the topic sentence or main idea. The next sentence can provide an example or evidence regarding the main idea. Have your students practice this paragraph structure: Topic – Detail – Example.

4. Conclusion

The closing section of an information report can be used to summarize. The conclusion should focus on what the reader has learned in the text. It may also contain information on links or further reading the reader can undertake to find out more about the topic. For more advanced students, the opportunity to make cross-curricular links to IT skills (for example) can be taken by encouraging students to incorporate hyperlinks to further sources.

5. Glossary

The glossary will contain much of the subject-specific vocabulary identified at the prewriting stage. It will contain the words alphabetically and a definition that gives the word context in light of the topic. Some of the contents of the glossary will also be identified by the student reading over the body of the text they have written and selecting words that may pose difficulties for readers or need further contextualizing in terms of the topic. Sometimes, it is helpful to use bold fonts to emphasize the words in a text that will be defined in the glossary. This allows the reader to know they can turn to the glossary to find out further information on the definition of this word and its use in context. As with the other sections of an information report, illustrations, tables, and photographs can be used here to visually represent related ideas and concepts and reinforce the definitions provided.


And there it is, some meat on the bones of information reports. Choosing topics for your students to write about can be generated either by the interests of students themselves, which can significantly enthuse them, or you can select topics for your students that tie into other areas of their learning, thereby killing the proverbial two birds with one stone! It is quite a complex genre but a very important one, and it is advised that students are offered ample opportunity to read lots of information reports to internalize these features and structures. The reading of information reports not only helps our students to understand how to write them but also, wonderfully, helps our students learn lots of stuff about lots of things!


Present tense:.

Information reports are predominantly written in the present tense. This is because the information presented on the topic will generally be considered static knowledge. However, this is not always the case for all information texts; for example, autobiographies and biographies can be considered information texts but will more than likely be written in the past tense. For the purposes of this article, however, we will focus on the more formal genres of information texts.

Subject-Specific Vocabulary:

Depending on the topic of the text, vocabulary specific to the subject will typically be used. For example, if the text provides information on an animal, it will likely utilize related words and phrases such as ‘habitat’, ‘species’, ‘offspring’, ‘lifespan’ etc. A helpful exercise for preparation to write an information report is to have students brainstorm words and phrases related to that topic. This also helps ensure the student covers all relevant related material and helps them organize their material before writing. It will also provide useful search terms for internet researching of the topic and some of the vocabulary to be contained in the glossary – more on this later!

General Nouns:


Students need to realize that they should use general nouns when writing on their topic. The information in their text should be generally accurate, and this should be reflected in the generic noun classifying it; for example, Bees collect nectar from flowers.

Passive Voice:

Information reports are an example of formal non-fiction writing. In common with lots of formal writing, they often apply the passive voice. It is helpful to draw the student’s attention to how this differs from other more personal writing genres, such as fiction. When teaching narrative writing , we often encourage, even insist, our students name the doer of the action. In fiction writing, using the passive voice often takes the narrative drive out of a story, leaving it limp and weak in the hands of the reader. This is because the character and narrative voice are central to story writing . This is not the case in information report writing. Here, the passive voice draws attention away from the doer or speaker and firmly brings attention to the object.

For example:

“Every year, cars kill thousands of hedgehogs on our roads.”

Here the active voice is used. Read carefully; we can note a considerable amount of our attention goes to the ‘killer’ in this sentence, i.e. ‘cars’. This brings our attention away from what should be our primary focus and the topic of the report, ‘hedgehogs’.

If we instead use the passive voice to convey this information, it would look something like this:

“Every year, thousands of hedgehogs are killed on our roads.”

Now the same information is relayed to the reader while maintaining the sentence’s focus on the subject ‘hedgehogs’.

A valuable exercise to help students understand the difference between passive and active voices is to give them a list of sentences for them to identify whether the active or passive voice is being used. They can then rewrite active voice sentences as passive voice sentences and vice versa.

Information reports are also generally written in the third person for the same reason the passive voice is used. The third-person perspective creates an impersonal tone that maintains a formal tone appropriate to the genre.

Visual Information:

Information Report | octopus information report writing 1 | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |

Visual presentations of the information to support the text, whether in the form of diagrams, photographs, graphs, maps, pictures, or tables, are extremely helpful to the reader. They help the reader to digest large amounts of information quickly. Remember too that pictures, photographs etc., should be labelled with captions explaining what they show.

Visual presentations should reinforce points made in the text, often in a condensed way. You may remember flicking through the pages of the World Book Encyclopedia or Encyclopedia Britannica as a child, and even if lacking the necessary literacy skills to actually read the articles, you likely picked up information just by looking at the colourful and well-presented illustrations and tables.

Browse any well-developed website, and it will quickly become apparent the central role visual media plays in the sharing of information. Your student’s work should be no different in this regard. Depending on the age and ability of your students, they may wish to draw pictures or create graphs using computer software to accompany their text.

Fact vs Opinion:

As stated, the purpose of information reports is to present factual information on a topic. It is essential that students can consistently and accurately differentiate between what constitutes fact and what can be considered opinion. This is not always as straightforward as it may seem and will require some practice on the part of the student.

It can be helpful for students to have several sessions working on distinguishing fact from opinion before writing their information reports. Prepare a set of statements for the students in your class. It may be on the topic on which they are to write their reports or on an entirely unrelated topic. There should be a mixture of factual and opinion-based statements. After instructing the students on the differences between facts and opinions , have them go through each statement in their groups and discuss which they believe to be facts and which they believe to be opinions. They then categorize them accordingly.

Beyond the writing of information reports, identifying opinions and facts is an invaluable skill to inculcate in our students. You may wish to encourage them to apply it when watching TV news, reading newspapers etc.


  • Assume your readers are not as knowledgeable on the topic as you are. This means you must briefly explain your topic before getting into the body.
  • Use the correct scientific and technical terms in your report.
  • Find or create some labelled diagrams if possible.
  • Use paragraphs effectively. Each new element of your information report should start with a new paragraph.
  • Information reports are always written in the present tense and from a third-person perspective.
  • You may offer some form of question or comment around your findings in the conclusion only. The rest of your report should be constructed purely of facts and evidence.

Be Technical and Descriptive

When putting together an information report, you need to know your topic well, so be sure to do your research beforehand.  If you were writing an information report on the Titanic, you might want to discover some of the following facts.

  • When & Where was Titanic built?
  • What materials was it made from?
  • Who was the captain, and were any other significant people involved?
  • Explain the facts about Titanic’s maiden voyage, such as locations and dates.
  • What caused the Titanic to sink ( Remember not to share opinions, just facts.)
  • Any critical dates and statistics associated with Titanic.


Information Report | INFORMATION REPORT | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |


Information report example (student writing samples).

Below are a collection of information report examples for students.  Click on the image to enlarge and explore them in greater detail.  Please take a moment to read the information reports in detail and the teacher and student guides highlighting some critical elements of information report writing to consider before writing.

Please understand these student writing samples are not intended to be perfect examples for each age or grade level but a piece of writing for students and teachers to explore together to critically analyze to improve student writing skills and deepen their understanding of information report writing.

We recommend reading the example either a year above or below, as well as the grade you are currently working with, to gain a broader appreciation of this text type .

Information Report | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |


Information Report | LITERACY IDEAS FRONT PAGE 1 | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |

Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.

We have several premium information report writing resources available that offer a complete, no-fuss and instant solution to producing excellent informative texts in the classroom and independently.


Information Report | WRITING CHECKLISTS | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |


Information Report | information reports2B28129 | How to Write an Excellent Information Report |


information report writing skills

The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.


Explore our Teaching unit on INFORMATIONAL TEXTS

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In this page, you will find some examples of what is expected of Year 4 writers who are meeting all the age-related requirements.  SCROLL DOWN  to find out what to expect from your children and some of the reasons why this is expected at Year 4. All the examples below are from "extended writing" sessions, which are generally over two lessons and are completed independently having spent previous lessons building up and practising writing skills.

Why is this writing at the age-related expectation (ARE) for the end of Year 4?

  • Use paragraphs to group information.
  • Capital letters, full stops, question and exclamation marks, possessive apostrophes and commas are used accurately.
  • Spell all common words correctly and spell most of Year 3 and 4 common exception words, attempting longer words.
  • Neat, legible and joined handwriting.
  • Correctly punctuation speech:

e.g. “Look, I used punctuation inside the inverted commas,” said Ian

  • Accurate use of tense, including present perfect ( e.g. She has walked to the shops ).
  • Use prepositions ( e.g. under, in, on, with, at ) and conjunctions ( e.g. and, because, since, although ) to extend and add detail to sentences.
  • Proof read their writing to check for errors and correct these independently.
  • Use adjectives and adverbs to add detail to their writing.
  • Parents notes for year 4 - ARE.pdf

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Non Chronological Report Lower KS2 (2 week plan)

Non Chronological Report Lower KS2 (2 week plan)

Subject: English

Age range: 7-11

Resource type: Lesson (complete)

Charlotte Creedon

Last updated

19 July 2020

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How to Write a Report

Last Updated: August 25, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Amy Bobinger . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 8,622,834 times.

When you’re assigned to write a report, it can seem like an intimidating process. Fortunately, if you pay close attention to the report prompt, choose a subject you like, and give yourself plenty of time to research your topic, you might actually find that it’s not so bad. After you gather your research and organize it into an outline, all that’s left is to write out your paragraphs and proofread your paper before you hand it in!

Sample Reports

writing a report year 4

Selecting Your Topic

Step 1 Read the report prompt or guidelines carefully.

  • The guidelines will also typically tell you the requirements for the structure and format of your report.
  • If you have any questions about the assignment, speak up as soon as possible. That way, you don’t start working on the report, only to find out you have to start over because you misunderstood the report prompt.

Step 2 Choose a topic...

  • For instance, if your report is supposed to be on a historical figure, you might choose someone you find really interesting, like the first woman to be governor of a state in the U.S., or the man who invented Silly Putty.
  • If your report is about information technology , you could gather information about the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data or information.
  • Even if you don’t have the option to choose your topic, you can often find something in your research that you find interesting. If your assignment is to give a report on the historical events of the 1960s in America, for example, you could focus your report on the way popular music reflected the events that occurred during that time.

Tip: Always get approval from your teacher or boss on the topic you choose before you start working on the report!

Step 3 Try to pick a topic that is as specific as possible.

  • If you’re not sure what to write about at first, pick a larger topic, then narrow it down as you start researching.
  • For instance, if you wanted to do your report on World Fairs, then you realize that there are way too many of them to talk about, you might choose one specific world fair, such as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, to focus on.
  • However, you wouldn’t necessarily want to narrow it down to something too specific, like “Food at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” since it could be hard to find sources on the subject without just listing a lot of recipes.

Researching the Report

Step 1 Include a variety...

  • If you don’t have guidelines on how many sources to use, try to find 1-2 reputable sources for each page of the report.
  • Sources can be divided into primary sources, like original written works, court records, and interviews, and secondary sources, like reference books and reviews.
  • Databases, abstracts, and indexes are considered tertiary sources, and can be used to help you find primary and secondary sources for your report. [5] X Research source
  • If you’re writing a business report , you may be given some supplementary materials, such as market research or sales reports, or you may need to compile this information yourself. [6] X Research source

Step 2 Visit the library first if you’re writing a report for school.

  • Librarians are an excellent resource when you're working on a report. They can help you find books, articles, and other credible sources.
  • Often, a teacher will limit how many online sources you can use. If you find most of the information you need in the library, you can then use your online sources for details that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Tip: Writing a report can take longer than you think! Don't put off your research until the last minute , or it will be obvious that you didn't put much effort into the assignment.

Step 3 Use only scholarly sources if you do online research.

  • Examples of authoritative online sources include government websites, articles written by known experts, and publications in peer-reviewed journals that have been published online.

Step 4 Cross-reference your sources to find new material.

  • If you’re using a book as one of your sources, check the very back few pages. That’s often where an author will list the sources they used for their book.

Step 5 Keep thorough notes...

  • Remember to number each page of your notes, so you don’t get confused later about what information came from which source!
  • Remember, you’ll need to cite any information that you use in your report; however, exactly how you do this will depend on the format that was assigned to you.

Step 6 Use your research...

  • For most reports, your thesis statement should not contain your own opinions. However, if you're writing a persuasive report, the thesis should contain an argument that you will have to prove in the body of the essay.
  • An example of a straightforward report thesis (Thesis 1) would be: “The three main halls of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.”
  • A thesis for a persuasive report (Thesis 2) might say: “The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was intended as a celebration of the Progressive spirit, but actually harbored a deep racism and principle of white supremacy that most visitors chose to ignore or celebrate.”

Step 7 Organize your notes...

  • The purpose of an outline is to help you to visualize how your essay will look. You can create a straightforward list or make a concept map , depending on what makes the most sense to you.
  • Try to organize the information from your notes so it flows together logically. For instance, it can be helpful to try to group together related items, like important events from a person’s childhood, education, and career, if you’re writing a biographical report.
  • Example main ideas for Thesis 1: Exhibits at the Court of the Universe, Exhibits at the Court of the Four Seasons, Exhibits at the Court of Abundance.

Tip: It can help to create your outline on a computer in case you change your mind as you’re moving information around.

Writing the First Draft

Step 1 Format the report according to the guidelines you were given.

  • Try to follow any formatting instructions to the letter. If there aren't any, opt for something classic, like 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font, double-spaced lines, and 1 in (2.5 cm) margins all around.
  • You'll usually need to include a bibliography at the end of the report that lists any sources you used. You may also need a title page , which should include the title of the report, your name, the date, and the person who requested the report.
  • For some types of reports, you may also need to include a table of contents and an abstract or summary that briefly sums up what you’ve written. It’s typically easier to write these after you’ve finished your first draft. [14] X Research source

Step 2 State your thesis...

  • Example Intro for Thesis 1: “The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915 was intended to celebrate both the creation of the Panama Canal, and the technological advancements achieved at the turn of the century. The three main halls of the PPIE were filled with modern creations of the day and were an excellent representation of the innovative spirit of the Progressive era.”

Step 3 Start each paragraph in the body of the report with a topic sentence.

  • Typically, you should present the most important or compelling information first.
  • Example topic sentence for Thesis 1: At the PPIE, the Court of the Universe was the heart of the exposition and represented the greatest achievements of man, as well as the meeting of the East and the West.

Tip: Assume that your reader knows little to nothing about the subject. Support your facts with plenty of details and include definitions if you use technical terms or jargon in the paper.

Step 4 Support each topic sentence with evidence from your research.

  • Paraphrasing means restating the original author's ideas in your own words. On the other hand, a direct quote means using the exact words from the original source in quotation marks, with the author cited.
  • For the topic sentence listed above about the Court of the Universe, the body paragraph should go on to list the different exhibits found at the exhibit, as well as proving how the Court represented the meeting of the East and West.
  • Use your sources to support your topic, but don't plagiarize . Always restate the information in your own words. In most cases, you'll get in serious trouble if you just copy from your sources word-for-word. Also, be sure to cite each source as you use it, according to the formatting guidelines you were given. [18] X Research source

Step 5 Follow your evidence with commentary explaining why it links to your thesis.

  • Your commentary needs to be at least 1-2 sentences long. For a longer report, you may write more sentences for each piece of commentary.

Step 6 Summarize your research...

  • Avoid presenting any new information in the conclusion. You don’t want this to be a “Gotcha!” moment. Instead, it should be a strong summary of everything you’ve already told the reader.

Revising Your Report

Step 1 Scan the report to make sure everything is included and makes sense.

  • A good question to ask yourself is, “If I were someone reading this report for the first time, would I feel like I understood the topic after I finished reading?

Tip: If you have time before the deadline, set the report aside for a few days . Then, come back and read it again. This can help you catch errors you might otherwise have missed.

Step 2 Check carefully for proofreading errors.

  • Try reading the report to yourself out loud. Hearing the words can help you catch awkward language or run-on sentences you might not catch by reading it silently.

Step 3 Read each sentence from the end to the beginning.

  • This is a great trick to find spelling errors or grammatical mistakes that your eye would otherwise just scan over.

Step 4 Have someone else proofread it for you.

  • Ask your helper questions like, “Do you understand what I am saying in my report?” “Is there anything you think I should take out or add?” And “Is there anything you would change?”

Step 5 Compare your report to the assignment requirements to ensure it meets expectations.

  • If you have any questions about the assignment requirements, ask your instructor. It's important to know how they'll be grading your assignment.

Expert Q&A

Emily Listmann, MA

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About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

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G.M.’s Cruise Moved Fast in the Driverless Race. It Got Ugly.

Cruise has hired a law firm to investigate how it responded to regulators, as its cars sit idle and questions grow about its C.E.O.’s expansion plans.

A parking lot full of orange and white Cruise vehicles behind a tall black fence.

By Tripp Mickle ,  Cade Metz and Yiwen Lu

Tripp Mickle, Cade Metz and Yiwen Lu have been reporting throughout the year on the rollout of robot taxis in San Francisco.

Two months ago, Kyle Vogt, the chief executive of Cruise, choked up as he recounted how a driver had killed a 4-year-old girl in a stroller at a San Francisco intersection. “It barely made the news,” he said, pausing to collect himself. “Sorry. I get emotional.”

To make streets safer, he said in an interview, cities should embrace self-driving cars like those designed by Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors. They do not get distracted, drowsy or drunk, he said, and being programmed to put safety first meant they could substantially reduce car-related fatalities.

Now Mr. Vogt’s driverless car company faces its own safety concerns as he contends with angry regulators, anxious employees, and skepticism about his management and the viability of a business that he has often said will save lives while generating billions of dollars.

On Oct. 2, a car hit a woman in a San Francisco intersection and flung her into the path of one of Cruise’s driverless taxis . The Cruise car ran over her, briefly stopped and then dragged her some 20 feet before pulling to the curb, causing severe injuries.

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles last week accused Cruise of omitting the dragging of the woman from a video of the incident it initially provided to the agency. The D.M.V. said the company had “misrepresented” its technology and told Cruise to shut down its driverless car operations in the state.

Two days later, Cruise went further and voluntarily suspended all of its driverless operations around the country, taking 400 or so driverless cars off the road. Since then, Cruise’s board has hired the law firm Quinn Emanuel to investigate the company’s response to the incident, including its interactions with regulators, law enforcement and the media.

The board plans to evaluate the findings and any recommended changes. Exponent, a consulting firm that evaluates complex software systems, is conducting a separate review of the crash, said two people who attended a companywide meeting at Cruise on Monday.

Cruise employees worry that there is no easy way to fix the company’s problems, said five former and current employees and business partners, while its rivals fear Cruise’s issues could lead to tougher driverless car rules for all of them.

Company insiders are putting the blame for what went wrong on a tech industry culture — led by the 38-year-old Mr. Vogt — that put a priority on the speed of the program over safety. In the competition between Cruise and its top driverless car rival, Waymo, Mr. Vogt wanted to dominate in the same way Uber dominated its smaller ride-hailing competitor, Lyft.

“Kyle is a guy who is willing to take risks, and he is willing to move quickly. He is very Silicon Valley,” said Matthew Wansley, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York who specializes in emerging automotive technologies. “That both explains the success of Cruise and its mistakes.”

When Mr. Vogt spoke to the company about its suspended operations on Monday, he said that he did not know when they could start again and that layoffs could be coming, according to two employees who attended the companywide meeting.

He acknowledged that Cruise had lost the public’s trust, the employees said, and outlined a plan to win it back by being more transparent and putting more emphasis on safety. He named Louise Zhang, vice president of safety, as the company’s interim chief safety officer and said she would report directly to him.

“Trust is one of those things that takes a long time to build and just seconds to lose,” Mr. Vogt said, according to attendees. “We need to get to the bottom of this and start rebuilding that trust.”

Cruise declined to make Mr. Vogt available for an interview. G.M. said in a statement that its “commitment to Cruise with the goal of commercialization remains steadfast.” It said it believed in the company’s mission and technology and supported its steps to put safety first.

Mr. Vogt began working on self-driving cars as a teenager. When he was 13, he programmed a Power Wheels ride-on toy car to follow the yellow line in a parking lot. He later participated in a government-sponsored self-driving car competition while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2013, he started Cruise Automation. The company retrofitted conventional cars with sensors and computers to operate autonomously on highways. He sold the business three years later to G.M. for $1 billion .

After the deal closed, Dan Ammann, G.M.’s president, took over as Cruise’s chief executive, and Mr. Vogt became its president and chief technology officer.

As president, Mr. Vogt built out Cruise’s engineering team while the company expanded to about 2,000 employees from 40, former employees said. He championed bringing cars to as many markets as fast as possible, believing that the speedier the company moved, the more lives it would save, former employees said.

In 2021, Mr. Vogt took over as chief executive. Mary T. Barra, G.M.’s chief executive, began including Mr. Vogt on earnings calls and presentations, where he hyped the self-driving market and predicted that Cruise would have one million cars by 2030.

Mr. Vogt pressed his company to continue its aggressive expansion, learning from problems its cars ran into while driving in San Francisco. The company charged an average of $10.50 per ride in the city.

After a Cruise vehicle collided with a Toyota Prius driving in a bus lane last summer, some people at the company proposed having its vehicles temporarily avoid streets with bus lanes, former employees said. But Mr. Vogt vetoed that idea, saying Cruise’s vehicles needed to continue to drive those streets to master their complexity. The company later changed its software to reduce the risk of similar accidents.

In August, a Cruise driverless car collided with a San Francisco fire truck that was responding to an emergency. The company later changed the way its cars detect sirens .

But after the crash, city officials and activists pressured the state to slow Cruise’s expansion. They also called on Cruise to provide more data about collisions, including documentation of unplanned stops, traffic violations and vehicle performance, said Aaron Peskin, president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.

“Cruise’s corporate behavior over time has increasingly led to a lack of trust,” Mr. Peskin said.

With its business frozen, there are concerns that Cruise is becoming too much of a financial burden on G.M. and is hurting the auto giant’s reputation. Ms. Barra told investors that Cruise had “tremendous opportunity to grow” just hours before California’s D.MV. told Cruise to shut down its driverless operations.

Cruise has not collected fares or ferried riders in more than a week. In San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and Austin, Texas, hundreds of Cruise’s white and orange Chevrolet Bolts sit stagnant. The shutdown complicates Cruise’s ambition of hitting its goal of $1 billion of revenue in 2025.

G.M. has spent an average of $588 million a quarter on Cruise over the past year, a 42 percent increase from a year ago. Each Chevrolet Bolt that Cruise operates costs $150,000 to $200,000, according to a person familiar with its operations.

Half of Cruise’s 400 cars were in San Francisco when the driverless operations were stopped. Those vehicles were supported by a vast operations staff, with 1.5 workers per vehicle. The workers intervened to assist the company’s vehicles every 2.5 to five miles, according to two people familiar with is operations. In other words, they frequently had to do something to remotely control a car after receiving a cellular signal that it was having problems.

To cover its spiraling costs, G.M. will need to inject or raise more funds for the business, said Chris McNally, a financial analyst at Evercore ISI. During a call with analysts in late October, Ms. Barra said G.M. would share its funding plans before the end of the year.

Tripp Mickle reports on Apple and Silicon Valley for The Times and is based in San Francisco. His focus on Apple includes product launches, manufacturing issues and political challenges. He also writes about trends across the tech industry, including layoffs, generative A.I. and robot taxis.  More about Tripp Mickle

Cade Metz is a technology reporter and the author of “Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought A.I. to Google, Facebook, and The World.” He covers artificial intelligence, driverless cars, robotics, virtual reality and other emerging areas. More about Cade Metz

Yiwen Lu reports on technology for The New York Times. More about Yiwen Lu

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Iger Lays Out Vision for Disney’s Future

Ceo says streaming, parks, studios and espn are the building blocks of the company.

Updated Nov. 8, 2023 7:27 pm ET

writing a report year 4

Nearly a year after returning to Disney as chief executive, Bob Iger laid out his vision of the company’s future, putting streaming and live entertainment at the center, fed by a studio business that he plans to personally help reinvent.

Copyright © 2023 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Islamophobia remains a persistent problem in Canada and concrete action is required to reverse the growing tide of hate, says a new Senate report released Thursday.

"The evidence is clear. Islamophobia is an acute threat to Canadian Muslims and urgent action is needed," Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, chair of the Senate human rights committee, told reporters Thursday. 

"We must commit to building a more inclusive country and to better promoting our Muslim relatives and friends, neighbours and colleagues."

The report, the first of its kind in Canada, took a year and involved 21 public meetings and 138 witnesses. 

The report said the committee "was disturbed to hear that incidents of Islamophobia are a daily reality for many Muslims, that one in four Canadians do not trust Muslims and that Canada leads the G7 in terms of targeted killings of Muslims motivated by Islamophobia."

The report's finding that one in four Canadians do not trust Muslims comes from a submission to the committee from Maple Lodge Farms, a supplier of Halal meat in Ontario's Peel region, which said it gathered the information from a "national survey" it conducted of 1,500 Canadians.

The submission does not provide details on how the respondents were chosen or what specific questions they were asked.

  • Anti-Islamophobia representative Amira Elghawaby apologizes for past comments about Quebecers
  • National Muslim charity launching legal challenge of CRA audit, calling it Islamophobic
  • Conservative candidate dropped by party over Islamophobic tweets says she's still running as a Tory

The report found that Muslim women have become the "primary targets when it comes to violence and intimidation" because they are easily recognizable from their attire. As a result, many are afraid to leave their homes for work, school or other activities.

"The profound effects of gendered Islamophobia are such that it compels certain women to consider removing their hijabs to enhance their employment opportunities," the report said.

"Testimonies highlighted the fact that Islamophobia in the workplace is not merely the consequence of a handful of people's actions; rather, it is a systemic issue that is widespread."

The report said that as a result, Arab women have the highest unemployment rate of any demographic group in the country. 

writing a report year 4

Canada's first Muslim senator talks about being strip-searched

Sen. Mobina Jaffer, Canada's first Muslim senator, told reporters Thursday that in 2001, not long after 9/11, she was flying from Vancouver to Ottawa with about 60 members of her family when she and her husband were singled out by airport authorities.

"Coming from a refugee background to be appointed by [former prime minister Jean] Chrétien to be a senator was a great pride for my family," Jaffer said. "And my husband and I both were called outside. And my husband and I both had to completely undress … and I don't wish that on anybody."

'A confirmation of what we have been seeing over many years'

Uthman Quick, the director of communications for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), told CBC News that the council was satisfied to see the report highlight the poor treatment of Muslim women in Canada, which he said is a growing problem.

"I think the report is really a confirmation of what we have been seeing over many years, but particularly over the last few weeks, since October 7," he said.

Quick said there has been an increase in the number of Islamophobic incidents reported to the NCCM since the starte of the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government and other nations.

"I am hoping the recommendations are followed through upon. Now more than ever, we can see that they are absolutely needed," Quick said.

Islamophobia and the media

The report said that the problem can be blamed in part on negative and pervasive stereotypes of Muslims the report said have mischaracterized "concepts of sharia, jihad and hijab."

"The recurring portrayal of Muslims in media has entrenched these stereotypes, leading them to become falsely accepted as truth," the report said.

The report found that hate-based information being spread on social media remains a growing problem, with more than 3,000 anti-Muslim social media groups or websites active in Canada.

"The frequency of hate speech and misinformation on social media platforms such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram was a common concern for [committee] witnesses," the report said. 

A written submission to the committee from Meta, Instagram and Facebook's parent company, said its efforts to combat Islamophobia are a "work in progress." It said it is taking steps that include monitoring hate speech and engaging with Muslim communities.

Representatives from X did not appear or make a submission to the committee. 


The report makes a number of recommendations for the federal government:

  • Ensure mandatory, regular training on Islamophobia for all federal government employees and the judiciary.
  • Launch a multimedia campaign and educational resources on Islamophobia that can be incorporated into classrooms.
  • Provide additional money to address hate-motivated crimes.
  • Increase specific Criminal Code offences for hate-motivated crimes.
  • Review the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's mandate to ensure it reflects the needs, interests and aspirations of racialized communities.
  • Introduce legislation to crack down on online hate.
  • Review national security legislation to ensure it takes Islamophobia into account.
  • Modernize the Employment Equity Act to ensure it takes Islamophobia into account.

The report also recommended the federal government introduce legislation in a number of areas to help the Canada Revenue Agency better understand the context for audits of religious organizations and provide quicker decisions on appeals.

  • Muslim communities worry that Islamophobic violence is being forgotten during election campaign
  • Ottawa announces dates for national summits on Islamophobia, antisemitism

The report said that in 2021, 144 anti-Muslim hate crimes were reported to police across the country, with an additional 1,723 crimes reported that were motivated by racial or ethnic hatred.

According to Statistics Canada data used to write the report, there were 223,000 reported cases of hate crime in general in 2020, but the report said those numbers fail to provide a complete picture of hate-motivated violence against Muslims in the country.

Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, is quoted in the report telling the committee that only one per cent of reported hate crimes are reported to police and only a fraction of those result in charges. 

"Muslims in Canada feel like they are under attack. The psychological impact of constant fear and vigilance is a heavy burden," the report said.  

"Survivors of violent Islamophobia live with the trauma of their direct experience, while countless others live with vicarious trauma brought on by justified fear that their communities are not safe."


  • An earlier headline on this story said the Senate report found 1 in 4 Canadians did not trust Muslims. In fact, the Senate committee heard this information from an external source and did not come to this finding itself. Nov 09, 2023 4:46 PM ET


writing a report year 4

Senior writer

Peter Zimonjic is a senior writer for CBC News. He has worked as a reporter and columnist in London, England, for the Daily Mail, Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph and in Canada for Sun Media and the Ottawa Citizen. He is the author of Into The Darkness: An Account of 7/7, published by Random House.

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