According to Sylvie Donna, author of Teach Business English, report writing is extremely important but very difficult to write. I would add that this is especially true for non-native English speakers.
Reports are important because they can have serious consequences and affect decisions. They are so hard to write because you have to collect, summarize and organize piles of information. You also have to understand the results to make sound recommendations.
Donna asserts that, “Selection of information is probably the most important part of writing a report” (p. 261). You as the writer must stay in the mind the reader and the purpose of the report. Don’t include insignificant details.
To make your life as a writer somewhat easier, however, a short report is usually divided into these sections:[note]
- Introduction: include who asked for the report, what what was wanted, and when the report should be submitted.
- Procedure: describe how the information was collected.
- Findings (body): present the information that was collected in logical order. Use sub-headings so that the reader can easily follow your arguments. Add visuals, such as figures, charts and graphs, when appropriate.
- Conclusion: summarize your findings. Don’t include new points.
- Recommendations: suggest ways of solving the problem that flow from the information you collected.[/note]
A formal report could include some of these items:
- Footnotes (which appear at the bottom of the page – easier to read for me) and endnotes (which appear at the end of the document – this is up to you.)
- A glossary – any technical terms or abbreviations you use (remember to spell them out the first time you use them).
- A bibliography – all the sources of information you consulted.
An analytical or research report is much longer and has many different sections. See Research Report Writing for more details.
It requires different sections or paragraphs that are numbered in an orderly way. I’ll look at structuring your document in the article, Effective Business Writing: Structure your document.
I know this research can be stressful. But I am here to tell you that with the right structure, planning, purpose, and style, any writing you do can be quick, easy, effective, and even fun!