REPORT WRITING RULES

 

 

#1 - USE THE MOST COMMON WORDS.

 

#2 – DO NOT USE JARGON OR SLANG. THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS WHEN DIRECTLY AND NECESSARILY QUOTING. SEE RULE #24.

 

#3 – DON’T BE CONCLUSIONARY. WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, NOT WHAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW.

 

#4 - SHORT SENTENCES ARE BETTER THAN LONG SENTENCES. IF A SENTENCE COULD BE MADE INTO TWO SENTENCES, WRITING IT AS ONE SENTENCE IS WRONG.

 

#5 - REFER TO YOURSELF (AND ONLY TO YOURSELF) WITH PRONOUNS SUCH AS I, ME, MY AND MINE (WRITE IN FIRST PERSON). THE ONLY ALLOWABLE EXCEPTION TO THIS IS WHEN NECESSARILY MAKING A DIRECT QUOTE.

 

#6 - WRITE WHO DID SOMETHING AND THEN WHAT THEY DID, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND (USE ACTIVE VOICE INSTEAD OF PASSIVE VOICE).

 

#7 – BE CLEAR. IF A READER MUST GUESS AT WHAT YOU MEANT, YOU’RE WRONG. IF ANYTHING YOU WRITE HAS MORE THAN ONE MEANING, YOU’RE WRONG.

 

#8 - ONLY USE PRONOUNS WHEN IT IS CLEAR TO WHOM THE PRONOUNS REFER. WHEN IN DOUBT, USE NAMES.

 

#9 - A REPORT SHOULD PRESENT THE FACTS IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY OCCURRED TO YOU (CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER).

 

#10 - ONE "SAID" PER PARAGRAPH IS SUFFICIENT UNLESS THERE'S A CHANCE OF CONFUSION REGARDING WHO SAID WHAT.

 

#11 – USE THE MOST SPECIFIC NOUNS FOR WHICH YOU HAVE INFORMATION. USE LAST NAMES FOR SUSPECTS, VICTIMS AND WITNESSES. THOSE LAST NAMES ARE GENERALLY MORE SPECIFIC THAN FIRST NAMES.

 

#12 - STATEMENTS OF WITNESSES, VICTIMS AND SUSPECTS SHOULD REFER TO THEM BY THEIR NAMES OR WITH PRONOUNS SUCH AS HE, HIM, HIS, SHE, HER AND HERS.

 

#13 – WRITE IN THE PAST TENSE.

 

#14 – WRITE IN COMPLETE SENTENCES.

 

#15 - DON'T USE COMPARATIVE MODIFIERS UNLESS A BASIS FOR COMPARISON IS GIVEN.

 

#16 – DON’T SPELL OUT  A NUMBER AND THEN IMMEDIATELY REPEAT IT AS A NUMERAL IN PARENTHESES.

 

#17 – USE CORRECT PUNCTUATION.

 

#18 - WITHIN THE STATEMENT OF A SUSPECT, VICTIM OR WITNESS, PUT EVENTS IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THINGS OCCURRED TO THAT PERSON

 

#19 - THE OVERALL STRUCTURE OF A REPORT IS PARAGRAPHS ARRANGED IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THE EVENTS DEPICTED OCCURRED TO YOU, THE WRITER. 

 

#20 - USE SEPARATE PARAGRAPHS FOR EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: (1) HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED, (2) WHAT YOU DID OR SAW (SEE RULE #25), AND (3) EACH PERSON'S STATEMENT (SEE RULE #25).  THE PARAGRAPHS SHOULD NOT NECESSARILY BE IN THIS ORDER. THE ORDER OF PARAGRAPHS WAS COVERED IN RULE #19 ABOVE. YOU MAY HAVE MORE THAN ONE OF PARAGRAPH OF THE SAME TYPE. FOR INSTANCE, IF YOU SPEAK TO THE VICTIM, DO SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT AND THEN SPEAK TO THE VICTIM AGAIN, YOU MAY HAVE TWO PARAGRAPHS OF THE VICTIM'S STATEMENTS WITH WHAT YOU DID IN A SEPARATE PARAGRAPH BETWEEN THEM.

 

#21 - INDICATE THE BEGINNING OF EACH PARAGRAPH BY SKIPPING A LINE BEFORE THE NEW PARAGRAPH. DO NOT SKIP A LINE UNTIL GOING FROM ONE TYPE OF PARAGRAPH TO ANOTHER.

 

#22 - DO NOT WRITE A REPORT IN A QUESTION-AND-ANSWER FORMAT. THERE SHOULD BE NO "I ASKED..." FOLLOWED BY "HE SAID...."  IN FACT, LEAVE OUT EVERY SENTENCE BEGINNING WITH "I ASKED..."  NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU ASKED.

 

#23 – REPORT FACTS, NOT OPINIONS. INFERENCES ARE ACCEPTABLE, BUT BEFORE MAKING AN INFERENCE, GIVE THE SUPPORTING FACTS.

 

#24 - ONLY QUOTE A PERSON IF: NECESSARILY QUOTING SLANG, WHAT THE PERSON SAYS IS AN ADMISSION OR CONFESSION, THERE ARE WORDS THAT HELP PROVE THE CRIME, IT IS A DENIAL, OR THE SUSPECT USES EMBARRASSING LANGUAGE.

 

#25 - A REPORT IS A SUMMARY OF THE FACTS THAT APPEARED TO BE IMPORTANT AT THE TIME OF THE WRITING. IF A FACT DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE IMPORTANT TO THE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION, LEAVE IT OUT. I WALKED FROM POINT A TO POINT B WILL PROBABLY NEVER BE A FACT THAT WILL APPEAR TO BE IMPORTANT TO THE PROSECUTION. ALL OR PART OF JOE SMITH'S STATEMENT MIGHT BE IMPORTANT, BUT I TOOK JOE SMITH'S STATEMENT WILL PROBABLY NOT BE IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO REPORT. THEREFORE, I TOOK JOE SMITH'S STATEMENT WILL NOT HAVE A PARAGRAPH OF ITS OWN (SEE RULE #25).

 

#26 - USE CORRECT SPELLING.

 

#27 - USE CORRECT GRAMMAR.

 

#28 - DO NOT USE LABELS OR TITLES IN REPORTS. DO NOT CALL SOMEONE VICTIM SMITH OR SUSPECT BROWN. DO NOT USE MR., MRS. OR MS. IN REPORTS.

 

#29 - MAKE SURE THE READER KNOWS THE SOURCE OF INFORMATION FOR ANY INFORMATION IN A REPORT.

 

#30 - LEAVE OUT THE PHRASE "DESCRIBED AS." IT NEVER ADDS INFORMATION AND FAILS TO TELL WHO DID THE DESCRIBING.

 

#31 - USE 24-HOUR TIME. 24-HOUR TIME IS ALWAYS FOUR NUMERALS WITHOUT COLONS. 0001 HOURS IS ONE MINUTE AFTER MIDNIGHT. 1201 HOURS IS ONE MINUTE AFTER NOON.

 

#32 - REPORT ALL THE ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME IN QUESTION.

 

#33 - ESTABLISH A CLEAR TIME FRAME FOR THE CRIME BASED ON FACTS.

 

#34 - MAKE SURE THE READER UNDERSTANDS THE PERSPECTIVES OF ANY WITNESSES. WERE THEY 1O FEET AWAY? ACROSS THE STREET?