- Organize Your Report:
If you’ve ever created a piece of writing, whether an e-mail, essay, or report, you know how difficult it can be to compose. After all, excellent report writing requires back-and-forth data gathering and revision and it generally follows a specific structure.
Once you have gathered the content, what you need to consider is the arrangement of the report. You need to remember the common outline which includes the following:
- Executive summary (explained below)
- Opening: the opening is essentially the introduction, entailing the purpose and the background of the report. In other words, this is the first stage of telling the reader what you are going to say.
- Body: it’s essential that you cover the areas you mention in the early stage (opening) or also known as the “say it” stage. It might be useful to use bullet points for the sub-headings if there is a lot of information.
- Closing: the last stage is the conclusion based on your findings and the future necessary steps you recommend.
- Set the Purpose:
As already mentioned, you need to start with the end goal in mind. Without having a goal, your report will be confusing and unconvincing. You have to be clear and distinct in your report. If not, it will not be an effective report
- Who is Your Audience:
This simply means knowing who you are writing for. By knowing who your reader is, you can easily tailor your report to your audience.
The shortest path to discovering your audience is by directly asking. For example, will the report be read only by the person who assigned it, such as your supervisor or manager? Or will the report be sent to other department/s? After understanding the reason for writing the report and learning who your target readers are, the following task is to gather the right information that your audience can quickly grasp.
- Gather the Correct Data:
The success of your report depends on the data you provide. No matter how organized your report is and how well you choose your words, your reader will not understand it if there is insufficient and incomplete information.
Because your reader fully relies on the content of your written report, you must meet the criteria of having thorough and complete data. The data you can provide includes statistics, financial data, tables, graphs, and metrics. This data is the body of your report that you will use for the key points. It is useful to use bullet points to emphasize these main areas, and be mindful that the flow of the points must be logical.
- Conclude with Executive Summary:
The executive summary you composed at the beginning of your report is actually the last part or stage of writing your report. It is the conclusion of the main areas that you deliver in the body of your report. This part contains the key findings and recommendations. Sometimes, high-positioned people in the company only need to read the main ideas of the report; thus, an executive summary should be provided and should be short.
- Re-check (and Re-check) Your Work:
Your company might set a writing style for reports. Does your document meet all the criteria? Are you using professional English and the accurate terms? Position yourself in the your reader’s shoes. Will they be able to easily scan your report? Have you delivered the important facts? Are there any grammar and spelling mistakes? Are the summary and recommendations clear? Finally, if there is time, have your colleague proofread your writing. Sometimes, you need other people’s views to notice any errors and suggest a few improvements.
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