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write your report in a structured way

Write your thesis with 7 tips

Write your report in a structured way – Tip 4: Write ‘the other way around’

Structured report writing; after 15 years of thesis supervision at the University of Groningen of master and bachelor students, I know that writing a thesis can sometimes be quite difficult. I continue to enjoy giving students tools to do so. Especially when I see how they turn their struggle into a project and write flow. In fact, I’ve seen students amaze me. A compact report that is complete and with no pin in between, delicious!

Actually, only a few insights are needed to make the writing of your thesis run smoothly. One of them is to ‘write in reverse’. Sounds strange but that makes the writing process (and the reading process for your guide!) a lot easier. The structure from the receiver (the reader) is crucial, even if you listen carefully to young children.

Many students write their thesis the way they carry out their project: in a time sequence. But a thesis is not a logbook. As a reader you get the same confusion in the beginning that you partly had when you started the project: “what information is really relevant?”, “what should I do with this information?”. If you read without background knowledge, and your reader does, some information is difficult to value. Only in the right light (your overarching goal) does the value of that information become clear to the reader. Hence the importance of structured writing your report for your reader.

Therefore, write your thesis ‘the other way around’. Start with your message to the reader, then tell us why that’s the message and how you support it. After that, the other information falls better into place. So start with your final conclusion and tell in ever deeper detail how you got there. This way you can write your report in a structured way!

In the project implementation, the information can be somewhat chaotic at first. You don’t have the exact why of that information in the beginning, but you do have a lot of details. Save your reader that chaos and explain to him in a structured way the connection between those details. And that structure starts with your main message (your result or conclusion) of your thesis or chapter or even paragraph.

Good luck with structured report writing!

Learn more: take a free trial lesson from the online ‘structured writing’ course or register for the full course.

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