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What is an investigation report and how to write it?

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In this article, we will look at the definition of the investigation report, its format, structure, and the best practices to ensure you succeed in composing one. We’ll also look at a list of the information you need to gather and some terms that are important to understand before you start out writing a report. Let’s start!

What is an investigation report?

An investigation report is a document written to inform a concerned party about a certain incident that has occurred and the actions that might be taken regarding the situation. Such reports are kept in archives, while not being used, and are retrieved in case some information or clarifications are needed. They can be written by authorized persons within the company or detectives, either private or working for the police and other law-enforcement departments.

Investigation report format and structure

There is no specific investigative report writing format. All you need to know and stick to is a structure. Therefore, outlining is the first step in investigative report writing as it will help you understand what kind of information you need to gather and how to present it. Here is a basic example of the outline:

  • General case information - includes the name of the reporting person, case number, and important dates.
  • Brief summary - shortly overviews the incident, involved parties, causes, and outcomes.
  • Recommendations – pieces of advice on the measures that have to be taken.
  • The purpose of investigation - defines the objectives.
  • Incident descriptions - provides a full chronological incident description.
  • Interviews documentation - gives detailed information on the interviews, including notes of the interviewer.
  • Interviews summary - reveals the most important data gathered during interviews.
  • Evidence & other findings - show everything sufficient that has helped to understand the situation and find a necessary solution.
  • Conclusion - presents a final decision on a case, includes summarized information about a certain violation and the policies that will be applied.
  • Appendices - include necessary additional materials.

How to write an investigative report?

Most people who read such a paper stop on the recommendation section. Therefore, it is important to get straight to the main idea at the very beginning.

The general case information should be extremely brief and to the point.

There is no need for the details here – you simply put the date and tell the reader what happened at that particular time. The summary is basically all of your paper shrunken into one paragraph, in the best case, or a few more, in case you have a lot of data to cover. And recommendations are where you state what should be done further based on the info you have provided.

The work has to be written in a simple language.

While you are trying to make what you are writing comprehensible, it does not mean you have to simplify everything. However, pay attention to the jargon. When you are too deep into a certain sphere, you start using words that a non-professional will barely understand. These words are only used by people in this specific sphere and mean nothing or something completely different to others.

It is better to use active voice when possible.

This will help you to maintain clear connections between objects and people. If certain information cannot be presented to the readers in one simple sentence, try delivering it in a few brief and clear sentences. This way, you will avoid unnecessary misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

The difference between the incident and accident

Incidents happen around the world every day. Some of them are extremely hard or impossible to prevent; however, by reporting such events, people can eventually find ways to avoid them.

The word “incident” is sometimes confused with another term – “accident.” The first one stands for any event, good or bad, that has happened, and requires an investigation. The second one is more precise and stands for a misadventure that has resulted in the injury, damage, or even death. However, the accident investigation report writing process has no sufficient differences, and the structure remains similar.

Why is it important to write investigation report?

Police departments are not the only places where accidents are investigated. Some companies have their own specialists to resolve internal issues. These may be complaints, minor flaws, and violations. Such problems are solved according to the company’s policies, and investigation reports help to take preventive measures. Authorities choose these measures themselves unless the infringement breaks the laws of a state or a country.

In such a situation, the case goes under the control of law-enforcement agencies, and a criminal investigation report writing takes place. Reports play a great role there, as they may help to solve crimes and put the perpetrators behind bars. Therefore, it is important to approach the writing of an investigative report seriously, as poor documentation can ruin the case completely.

The best tips on investigative report writing

  • Organize your report in such a way that even a person who barely has any knowledge in the sphere can understand it.
  • Document all the findings objectively. Also, avoid behavioral interpretations to show that you are unbiased.
  • Make sure that all the points of your report are clear, logical, and consistent. A reader needs to understand who did what, when, and how.
  • If this is your first time writing such a document for a company, request a template or at least a list of points you absolutely need to hit.
  • Proofread your report the next day to make sure that you sound impartial and professional. Also, you will be able to spot more mistakes with a fresh eye.

How to write an investigation report if you are in a rush?

Investigators are people who like to be involved in real action. And writing reports has nothing to do with that. It is a very important part of the job, but also the most boring and time-consuming one. However, it may be simplified or even avoided.

Some people use templates, which are pretty helpful when it comes to outlining the paper. It saves some time but leaves a great amount of work ahead. However, if you read a few examples of reports made by your colleagues, it may give you an idea on not only how to outline the document but also how to present the information properly.

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