Professional Reports: All Shapes and Sizes

report picAll Shapes and Sizes

 As with most things in life, everything comes in all shapes and sizes, this is also true for professional reports.  It can also be said that almost all professionals at some point in their careers will have the daunting task of writing a professional report.

Reports tend to be long in nature however, they can possess many different qualities for the writer as well as the reader.  In order to write and or present an effective report there are some basic needs that should be met:

  1. Be clear and concise;
  2. Know who you are writing the report for;
  3. Be informative;
  4. Give visuals if necessary; and
  5. Do your research.

With technology getting better by the minute it is important to keep the reader’s attention and as such number four in the above list becomes that much more effective. Data visualization is very important and can be very effective.  In some cases it can make or break the report, sometimes you need more than just a simple pie chart to display your results, some examples of such technology and data visualization tools are as follows:



 presents the 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective in a mindmap.

Displaying Data

displaying data






Time Magazine uses visual hills (spikes) to emphasize the density of American population in its map.


Displaying Connections





Musiclens gives music recommendations and presents your current mood and musical taste as a diagram.


Articles & Resources

articles and resources






Visual shows how the project presents the most beautiful methods of data visualization as well as further references and book suggestions. The gallery has over 450 entries


Tools & Services

tools and services




You can create your own timelines with Xtimeline, Circavie or IBM Many Eyes.  This Java-based service visualizes data online and helps to create pie charts, diagrams, tree maps, bar charts and histograms.

Furthermore, Edward Tufte, a leader and innovator with respect to visual art and visual statistics, demonstrates how we can use walking maps to better view and navigate our way through parks and other large areas with his design of Walking maps (and minimizing the visual interface).

west pond pic

Tufte created a walking map in order to help guide visitors throughout his 234 acre sculpture park.  The map uses 24 images of his artwork to enable visitors to know where they are and how to find their way among the artworks.  Unlike a flatland plot-plan (like a floor plan of a house), visitors view images of artwork to orientate themselves.  Tufte strongly enforces the North direction in the map as well as on the ground.  So far none of the 600 plus visitors has gotten lost.

And now on to the most interesting reports (cough, cough)


 Personally, I find law and law related topics interesting and I love all areas of law and criminology.  However, within the practice of law reporter (as they are called in law) are not the most entertaining or visually stimulating of reports.

The main source for cases in print are law reporters.  The publications report cases and the editors usually determine which cases will be published based on what the case is based on, trends in law or a point of law which has not been resolved.

Publishers obtain copies of judgments as soon as reasons are prepared by judges and filed with court.  Judgments are reviewed and divided into categories such as, subject, area and the court in which the judgment was passed.  “Cases which extend a legal principle, clarify a controversial point of law, or contain a particularly good discussion of existing law are often reported while cases which the editor considers to be “routine” are left out” (Queen’s University Library).

Report series are classified as official, semi-official and unofficial:

 Official reports are authorized by the court whose decisions they report (Supreme Court Reports, Federal Court Reports, etc.).

Semi-Official reports are published by commercial law publishers (Ontario Reports, Nova Scotia Reports, etc.).

Unofficial reports are unauthorized publications by private organizations.


Published cases consist of the following sections:

Style of Cause: the names of the parties to the legal dispute.

Preliminary information: preliminary information including the court name, the judge who heard the case, and the date of the decision’s release.

Catchlines: phrases and key words separated by dashes that describe the legal issues as well as the facts of the case reported.

Headnote: This is a short summary of the facts, issues and reasons for the decision rendered.

Authorities referred to: The cases, statutes and secondary sources consulted or referred to in the decision.

History of the case: If this is not the first hearing of the case, the prior history will be given.

Decision(s): The decisions or written reasons of the judge who heard the case.


Major Canadian Print Law Reports Series

Dominion Law Reports (DLR)                                           Federal Court Reports (FCR)

Federal Trial Reports (FTR)                                                National Reporter (NR)

Supreme Court Reports (SCR)                                            Atlantic Provinces Reports (APR)

Eastern Law Reporter (East)                                               Maritime Provinces Reports (MPR)

Western Weekly Reports (WWR)


References,. (2014). The Work of Edward Tufte and Graphics Press. Retrieved 7 December 2014, from

Friedman, V. (2007). Data Visualization: Modern Approaches – Smashing Magazine. Smashing Magazine. Retrieved 7 December 2014, from,. (2014). Law Reports | Queen’s University Library. Retrieved 7 December 2014, from



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