Department of Computing Science
How to write reports for assignments
Umeå universitet


Below you find a number of guidelines that is the basis for a good report describing how you have solved a certain assignment. This report is what you should hand in to the assistants. However, special demands formulated in the assignment might higligt different parts.

Purpose of a report

  • Exercise your writing skill
  • Document your work in a professional and formal correct way
  • Make it possible for others to understand your work
  • Prepare for comming professional work where documentation is important

Content of a report

  • Cover sheet
  • Abstract
  • Content
  • Problem Specification
  • Usage and user's guide
  • Algorithm Description
  • Systems Description
  • Limitations on the Solution
  • Problems and Reflections
  • Test runs
  • References
  • Source Code
  • Attachments

Cover sheet


  • Normally not needed, but if the report is large and made by a group an abstract might be good.


  • A listing of all chapters and sections
  • Even attachments (if present)

Problem Specification

  • Describe what is to be done (what should be solved)
  • Use your own words, i.e. do not copy the assignment specfication
  • Refere to the original assignment specification
  • If the original specfication is incomplete - note that and state what assumptions you have made

Usage and user's guide

  • Say where your files are stored, normally that is said in the specification of the assignment.
  • If several files are used you should shortly describe their purpose
  • Describe how your code should be run. Describe every possible argument provided by the command line

Algorithm Decription

  • Describe non-trivial parts of the solution by using English/Swedish
  • Use a numbered list in several levels to indicate subparts
  • Try, not to use variable names and units linked to the code. However, it is OK to use some "reserved words" such as while, for, if-then-else that seems natural in connection with repetetion and if-questions
  • The purpose of this section is that a reader should understand how you have solved the problem without knowing about the details
  • Design your algorithms before you start coding!!!!!!>

Systems Description

  • The most central part of the report
  • Should describe the internal design and structure of the total system
  • What is considered importatnt might vary - ask the assistants if you are uncertain
  • It is better with many small figures, and a description of how they interact than one big spider net that is almost impossible to follow
  • Object-oriented development (Java and more):
    • Describe relations between classes with figures and comment on these
  • General guidelines
    • Describe every function, its name, input/output, purpose
    • All user defined data types and structures should be described

Limitations on the solution

  • Describe all limitations you can think of when solving this problem
  • How can the limitations be avoided?

Problems and Reflections

  • What problems have you run into?
  • What is your oppinion of the assignment?
  • If some persons have been especially helpful? Acknowledge these persons

Test Runs

  • Show output data typeset by courier
  • Comment on the tests. What is tested? Interprete the results


  • Normally not included

Source code

  • It is a good idea to attach the source code to the report
  • The code should be printed by using Courier
  • Use indentation in a good way
  • Use e.g. atp, a2ps and enscript) to print the code nicely
  • Use comments in the code where it is not obvious what it does
  • Describe every function, its name, input/output, purpose


  • Some times used

General comments

  • The logo of Umeå University should not be used
  • Use correct and plain English or Swedish
  • Use a footer including your name, E-mail address, name of the course and Assignment #
  • Number the pages (paginate)
  • The pages of the report should be attched to each other
  • Use spell checkers

Sidan skapades av Marcus Bergner,
and was translated by Per Lindström

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Department of Computing Science
Umeå University
The information on this page was modified 2009-12-16
Responsible for this page: Per Lindström
Address: SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden
Phone: 090-786 50 00
Fax: 090-786 61 26