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Write a Better Report!

by John Carr

Table of Contents - click on link to go directly to section.
Introduction How do I send my report? Who do I send it to?

Report Structure

Report Style Headings Event Date

Venue/s

Names

Photography

Character Styles

Excess space between paragraphs

Aligning text Tables
Introduction To start with I would like to thank all those Press Officers who have taken the trouble to send articles to www.bowlinginspain.com, over the years. Without you there would be no website.
I have produced this aide to writing a better report with two people in mind - you and me!
I am convinced if you follow the material here you will produce a better report - a big plus for you both within the world of Lawn Bowling and in any of your general authoring endeavours.
I must confess that I spend a great deal of time, (along with my worthy sub-editor, Amber Dineen), preparing your reports for publication on the web. I am sure this could be reduced considerably, if the guidelines below were followed.
Probably the section on Tables would bring most significant benefits to both of us, as the common use use of Tabs does not travel well to the website. You will also find Tables very useful for publishing Team Sheets, League Schedules, Entry Forms, Posters and many other documents.

I would like to emphasise how important it is to make sure your report & photos give the maximum publicity to the sponsors. After all, without their support many events would not be able to be staged.

Finally, I am sure my colleagues in the local and international press offices, would also appreciate you adopting these guidelines.

Thanking you in advance for your cooperation. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions and keep sending your articles.

John Carr

Webmaster www.bowlinginspain.com

How do I send my report? Firstly, do NOT write your report directly on the message section of your email. This might be the simplest approach, but email editing features are very limited and create problems when the text is copied & pasted to the web authoring program.
Instead, use the email message section to identify the event/news item & any special instructions.
Write the main report using a standard word processing program, such as Microsoft Word for Windows or Open Office/Text Document.
Report file names should be in the format: yymmdescriptiveeventname.doc, eg: 1208ChampOfChamps.doc.
(If you experience incompatibility problems between the various versions of MS Word, feel free to contact me by email.)
Avoid using more "exotic" programs such as, Excel, Powerpoint & non standard word processing programs, as these may be difficult for the recipient to handle.
Attach the report file to your email message along with supporting photo files, ideally in .jpg format.
Photo file names should be in the format: descriptivephotocontent.jpg, eg: ChampOfChampsWinners.jpg.
Who do I send it to? email to contactus@bowlinginspain.com.
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Report Structure. Main Heading

Sub-heading, (optional)

Detail

Sub-heading, (optional)

Detail

_
_
_

Presentation and credits.

Author

Report Style. Nobody likes to read a long verbose report, so keep it light, brief, but informative. Most readers are principally interested in knowing the winners and finalists and the final scores. Include highlights of the final matches and any other items of special interest. A dash of humour, here and there, doesn't do any harm.
Heading 1. The Main Heading should be brief as possible and represent the content: e.g. "Mountain Open Finals - Downlea Bowls Club". Avoid using vague headings like: "Supreme Bowling Club Press Report", "News from Park Bowls Club".
Heading 2. The Sub-heading, (optional), can contain a brief sentence that might attract interest to reader: "John Smith does it again!", or "The Exiles retain the title after nail-biting final!.
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Event Date. The Event Date should appear somewhere prominently in the headings or main body of the report. It can be very specific: "March 10th - 15th, 2012", or fairly general: "During April, 2010", but avoid relative dates like: "last Monday", "last week", "recently".
Venue/s. The Venue/s should appear somewhere prominently in the headings or main body of the report. Where appropriate, the host club name/s should be accompanied by the Province/Country.
Names. The Event Press Officer should make sure that the full names/titles to be included in the report have been obtained correctly at the event. People that might be included are: participants, officials, sponsors, (organisation and names), supporting individuals, (e.g. camera man). If there is more than one sponsor, identify which disciplines each is sponsoring.
This section is very important, as key individuals who are omitted, or have their names/titles incorrectly published can get very upset!
Photography.

(Examples to follow.)

General
For important events, the organisers should involve the Press Officer & Photographer in the planning stages.
The following points should be discussed:-
  • Who will write the report? (Ideally a non-participant.)
  • Who will take the pictures? (Ideally a non-participant.)
  • Will the Photographer require assistants?
  • Should photos be taken during the Presentation, or after on the green?
  • Will the Photographer have permission to take action shots?
  • Should priority be given to the official photographer over other people taking photos?

At the opening ceremony, along with the key officials, the Press Officer & Photographer should be identified.
Correspondingly, at the closing ceremony the Press Officer & Photographer should be included in the credits.

Where appropriate, a caption for each photo, identifying the people in the photo, should be contained in the report, (ideally at the end after the author's name).
For example: TriplesWinners.jpg - Exiles Open Triples Winners with Sponsor - L to R: Jane Doe, Joe Bloggs, George Harrison, (Sponsor), & Maria Gonzalez.
 


Don't stand
too far away from the subjects.

Avoid strong back light.
(Causes shadows across the faces of the subjects.)
 

No Date Stamps or descriptive text on the photos.

If you have a suitable photo processing program, crop the photos to remove extraneous material, adjust brightness/contrast and reduce/increase the size to about 1024 pixels width.


Send photos as attachments to an email in .jpg format, not embedded in a Word document. Keep maximum size of photo to 1024 pixels, (still very high definition, but reduces time to send and disk space).
 

Static Groups, (or Single Bowler)

Spend time arranging the subjects to make sure all are visible and the overall distribution is balanced. Try to arrange subjects in more interesting poses than the traditional format. (Ignore protests from impatient subjects!) For large groups consider arranging lines of chairs. Avoid busy backgrounds, (presentation tables, club & sponsor banners, other people not subjects to the photo, club houses, tables & chairs). If weather conditions permit, choose an uncluttered section of the green. Superimpose sponsor logo/s in an appropriate position on the photo afterwards, adding drop shadow effects to resemble 3D effect, if possible. (Best program for this is still probably Photoshop).
If sunny make sure the subjects are facing the sun. (Avoids shadows on the faces). Keep your shadow away from the subjects.
 
Where appropriate ask subjects to remove hats or sunglasses.
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Character styles.

Style Type

Case

Align

Font

Size

Bold

Italics

Underline

Colour

Used for

Heading 1

Title

L

Arial

16

Yes

No

No

Black

Main Heading, (Normally identifying the Event/News item),
e.g.
2011 Champion of Champions Event.

Heading 2

Title

L

Arial

14

Yes

Yes

No

Black

Sub-Heading,
e.g. "
Joe Blow Does It Again!", Results, Presentation

Normal

Sentence

L

Arial

12

No

No

No

Black

Body of text, detail.
e.g. " On Sunday 30th January, the expat teams representing England & Wales did battle at Vistabella Bowls Club for the John Cooper Memorial Trophy.

Although choosing more exotic types of fonts, colours & other formatting choices may appeal to your artistic temperament, it could render the text less legible, especially when transported to the web environment.
SO PLEASE CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM - FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR READERS!

Avoid using ALL CAPITALS anywhere in your report, it comes across overbearing and unattractive.

Excess space between paragraphs.
  Do not leave a vertical space between a heading, or (sub-heading), and the text below it.
Do not leave a vertical space between 2 paragraphs of normal text.
NO
YES
Aligning text.
Do not use extra horizontal spaces to indent or centre text.  
Instead use the alignment tools feature provided by the word processing program.
Just click anywhere on text you want to align and then click the required alignment icon. This useful feature will save you time and do the job properly!
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TABLES are extremely useful in cases where you need text and/or photos aligned in Rows & Columns.

Advantages:-

  • Simple to create & modify.

  • Much more effective than Tabs.

  • Simpler & more flexible than Excel.

  • Can be easily copied & pasted into Web Authoring programs.

(Use your favourite Search Engine to find some excellent tutorials on MS Word Tables.)

 Insert a table Decide the approx, number of Columns/Rows required.

Select Table/Insert at the top of the screen & follow Instructions.

A 2 column by 2 row table will look like this:-

   
   
Entering data. Click on any Cell, (the space at the intersection of a Row and Column) and type text or paste images as if the cell were a complete page.
 

This space is called a Cell.

You can edit the contents of a Cell just like you would a normal page, using Font/Size/Bold/Italics/Underline/Alignment/Colour & all the other editing features.

You can insert/paste pictures in a cell.

Regardless of the amount of content in Cells, Tables keep your columns & Rows tidy. Especially when the Table is published on the Web.
Tabs do not do a good job especially on the Web and are generally untidy. Columns do not stay in line.
Selecting parts of a Table.
  1. Click on any part of the table you want to select, (for editing purposes, inserting, deleting).
  2. Click on Table/Select on the top of the screen.
  3. Click on the part you require to select: Table/Column/Row/Cell.
Column widths You can modify any column width by employing one of 2 methods:-
Method 1
 ( recommended for accuracy)
  • Select the Column/s whose width you wish to modify.
  • Click on Table/Table Properties/Column on the top of the screen.
  • Specify the Column Width you require.
Method 2
 ( recommended for speed)
  • Select the Column/s whose width you wish to modify.
  • Move the mouse slowly over the right hand column border line, (do not drag the mouse), until a horizontal double-headed arrow appears.
  • Drag the double-headed arrow left or right to modify column width.
Insert Row/s or Column/s
  • Select the Row/s or Column/s next to which you wish to Insert.
  • Click on Table/Insert.
  • Follow the appropriate instructions.
Delete Row/s or Column/s
  • Select the Row/s or Column/s adjacent to which you wish to Delete.
  • Click on Table/Delete.
  • Follow the appropriate instructions.

Note: pressing the Delete key will delete the contents , but not the Row/s or Columns.

Table Borders
  • Select the Table, Row/s or Column/s you wish to Format.
  • Click on Format.
  • Click on Borders & Shading.
  • Follow the appropriate instructions.
Table Alignment
  • Right Click anywhere on the Table.
  • Select Table Properties.
  • Select the alignment you require: left, centre or right.

(Text alignment within a cell is achieved using normal Text Alignment tools as described above.)

Splitting a Table
  • Click anywhere on the Row above which to split the Table
  • Select Table/Split Table.
Nested Tables
  • A Nested Table is simply a Table occupying the cell of another Table. It can be useful at times, (refer to the examples on this page).
  • To insert a new Table in a cell of another table, simple click on the destination cell and then perform the same process as you would for inserting a table in a normal page.
Deleting a table
  • Click anywhere in the Table.
  • Select Table/Select/Table at the top of the screen.
  • Select Table/Delete/Table.
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