How to Write a Business Report

Posted by on Sunday 29 Jun 2008

Business reports are usually written to inform, and the audience for the report can be any combination of internal, external, or both and/or technical, non-technical, or both. Therefore, knowing your audience and outlining information carefully is critical to the success of your report.

Structure your document logically with a purpose statement, executive summary, body, action steps, and appendices as appropriate.

Tips on how to write a report so that the recipient will read it include:

  • Simplify, simplify simplify. Avoid phrases such as “in order to” when “to” will work.
  • Make it as short as possible. People are very pressed for time and they don’t have a lot of time to read what you have written. Short sentences, even bulleted lists of points you want to make, are preferred over long, convoluted sentences that go on and on and on… you get the idea. Try breaking each sentence into about 20 words. If a sentence is too long, rewrite it to break it into two sentences. Keep the paragraphs short, too.
  • Write naturally. Write the way you would speak.

In addition, reports are often persuasive. For example, you may write that the purpose of the report is to explain the value of a proposed change when the real reason for your report is to seek an authorization for the proposed change.

Tips on how to write a business report so that the recipient will respond to it:

  • Write from the reader’s perspective. Make sure you include all the appropriate background information your audience will need.
  • Be specific. Use statistics and percentages.
  • Include action items if needed.
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