AIM: To investigate the effect of different interventions on the inclusion of data items in the histopathology reports of resected colorectal carcinomas. STUDY POPULATION: 272 routine histopathology reports on colorectal carcinomas from the department of histopathology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield. METHODS: The presence or absence of 10 specific data items was recorded for each report. The reports were divided into five audit periods. In the initial period reports were generated using free text with no agreed guidelines. In period 2, text guidelines had been issued; in period 3, flow diagram guidelines had been issued; and in periods 4 and 5, template proformas were attached to each specimen request form. RESULTS: All interventions produced some increase in inclusion rate for some features, but only with the introduction of template proformas did these rates approach 100% for all data items. Inclusion rates were 100% for all items in all cases reported using a proforma. In the final audit period 96% of specimens were reported using proformas. CONCLUSIONS: Template proformas produce a high rate of inclusion of data items in reports of colorectal carcinoma resection specimens.