Many of us are required to write business reports during our business careers, but some may be in doubt as to how to approach this task. However, business report writing needn’t be a minefield; here are some pointers which should help:
1) Do thorough research and take notes. This could involve primary research, for example, direct interviews, questionnaires, or seeing a scheme in action. Alternatively, you may carry out secondary research, which involves researching documented sources such as books and the Internet.
2) Think about the readership and your readers’ level of knowledge and requirements, and make sure that you write the report in a tone appropriate for them.
3) The writing style should be concise. This doesn’t mean that the report should be short; it means that the writing style should be direct and to the point, omitting excess verbiage, but it should still contain all the essential elements and be written in accordance with the required length. The report should also be factual and informative with logical reasoning, and should be objective rather than having a personal bias.
4) Make sure that any facts you present are accurate. Check any information sources carefully.
5) Open with an introduction, which should explain what the report seeks to address and how this will be approached.
6) Draw up the outline first using headings and sub-headings gleaned from research information, and putting them in a logical order
7) Draw conclusions before you start writing the report. It sometimes helps to write these down first as this can give you a point of reference to work towards.
8) The main body of the report should substantiate the conclusions, and present the evidence and arguments.
9) Decide what information should go in the appendices. This is usually supporting information, such as facts and figures, graphs and questionnaires.
10) Label your tables and graphs fully and detail the sources.
11) Recommendations follow conclusions and these are suggested courses of action which have arisen from the findings of the report.
12) Spell-check the finished report, then proofread it thoroughly, usually after having left it for a while so that you can approach it with a fresh mind.
It is worth remembering that some companies have their own guidelines when it comes to business report writing. This could be a set layout in terms of numbering, headings, font, paragraph lengths or overall length. Therefore, you should always check this prior to writing the report.