How to Write a Business Report
The most basic form of business writing is the report. The purpose of the report is closer to true journalism than any other form of business writing: Its function is to relate raw data. Reports may be academic documents and, generally speaking, should be academic in tone. In a true report, you will not come to a judgment or make a recommendation. The purpose of the conclusion in a report is to restate, in skeletal form, the data you have related. The elements in a report include (but may not be limited to):
- Title page: As always, follow your standard-usage manual, but state the name of your report, and list appropriate authorship information and for whom the report was created
- Abstract: The abstract includes the statement of purpose and a thesis statement. Include an outline of your data for the first time here.
- Table of contents
- List of all figures
- List of tables (If you want your tables listed separately from the rest of your figures)
- List of abbreviations and symbols: Put this information at the front and make it easy to find so that your reader will be less fogbound
- Executive summary (most important): This can also serve as your introduction. Keep this part of the document short. Briefly list your findings. Under most circumstances, no more than a paragraph is expected for this. This part of the document exists primarily for the “power readers” and the decision makers in your audience.
- Text: This is the body of the document in which you present the data appropriate to your purpose. Break the data into blocks divided by heads and subheads consistently formatted for the power reader and executive reader.
- Conclusions: Even though you are not expected to make a judgment or recommendation about the data you are reporting, you need to use the conclusion to restate the outline of your data in a broad sense.
- Recommendations (second-most important): The recommendations section should be an extension of your conclusion statement, only more focused. A single paragraph set apart from the rest of the text is ideal here. The executive reader will probably read the summary, the table of contents and the recommendation and use the rest of the document only as needed for implementation.
- Bibliography: All references and end notes are included in this section
- Appendices: Include reprints, addendums, clarifications, exercises and blueprints, with references to the text pages to which they refer
- Glossary: Redefine all words defined in the text of your document
Writing a business report is an opportunity for you to display the findings or outcome of your work. Before beginning, carefully consider the purpose, audience and data. Keep track of the sources of all information in your report and make it brief (yet thorough) and well organized.