Business writing is an essential skill for everyone who is striving for a career in almost any field. However, business communication, and business writing in particular, is quite different from academic, and thus, many young and aspiring workers experience anxiety when the time comes to write their first business report. Anyhow, there is absolutely no reason to stress out over a business report writing: there are several steps that will ensure a well-organized work and a clear, structured narrative.
Make sure you understand the purpose of your writing
What is a business report? Although there are various types of business reports, all of them are specific documents, designed for a certain professional audience. The first, and the most important step one should do before writing, is determining what exactly to write. Many people fail to follow this recommendation and, as a result, they come up with wordy and complicated texts.
Develop a structure that works for your purpose
Now that you know what needs to be said, draft out your business report template. The arrangement of the report sections largely depends on its format. Formal report format requires accuracy with all the numbers and data, the language should be official and explicit, the structure is predetermined and strict, whereas informal report format tolerates some minor variations in language, style and section layout. The main difference in report formats is the size of the writing. Informal reports can be represented in forms of memos, letters, and even be shared by email.
How to write a formal report though? Many fields and companies have their own format of report writing, and it is essential to make sure that your business report complies with all the requirements of the corporate writing.
However, if there are no specific guidelines to follow, you can always stick to the general pattern:
Title page, which should contain the title of the report, the name of the author, and the date. The report should be titled according to the given task.
Contents, where all the section headings are listed with corresponding page numbers. This page is only required for the sizable reports, and it is usually compiled after all the writing is done in order to make sure that section headings and pagination match the parts of the main text.
Summary, a brief section to highlight the key findings of the report. This part of the report is optional, it is more suitable for the lengthy texts.
Introduction, the section to state the purpose of writing or outline the given task.
Methodology, the optional part to describe the methods used while completing the assignment.
Findings, or the main body of the text. This part of the text should include all the relevant information, opinions, judgments, ideas, and the necessary facts and statistics to support the claims. The information in this part of the report should be divided into paragraphs and other logical parts, labeled by proper headings and subheadings. Most of the time, writing a business report requires prior investigation and research, therefore the resources of all the borrowed ideas, theories and insights should be properly acknowledged and cited.
Conclusion, the brief appraisal of the enounced material and a terse inference about the current situation.
Recommendations, the section where the author should suggest further actions for the company or department based on the research findings.
Bibliography. The list of all the cited works that were used during the conducted research and mentioned in the report.
Appendices. If the conducted research resulted in extensive amount of data, which was further processed and represented within the main body of the report, it is reasonable to provide the original data in case the readers would want to take a look and get a better understanding of the topic.
Mind your language
Time is money, so the narrative of a business report should be as concise as possible. Unlike academic writing, where the key points are stated and explained in the middle of the text, the principles of business writing suggest getting down to the point as soon as possible. The report should be written with a formal language and precise terminology. Although the intended audience of the report is likely to know the professional slang, it should be avoided.
The document should be formatted according to the writing style manual that suits the area of the research and field of the company’s work. For example, if the report was based on a sociological survey and is intended for social workers, it should be formatted in accordance with the Publication Manual of American Psychological Association. However, some features of the text (in-text citation, footnotes, appendices, bibliography, etc.) can be formatted according to the company standards.
Support your claims with illustrations
It is well-known that a picture is worth a thousand words, thus a business report will benefit from relevant and qualitative illustrations. As the writing should be concise, the visual data should be interpreted and commented, yet the text should never state anything that can be obviously inferred from the graphic demonstration. Make sure that all the provided visual material is properly labeled and cited within the text.
Edit and proofread
No matter how carefully-written the text is, it will benefit from being thoroughly edited and proofread, especially if there is an opportunity to set it aside for a while and then give it a fresh look. Such approach will save the text of the report from embarrassing typos and will allow the author to detect any flaws before the text reaches its audience.