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Writing a Business Report: Structure & Examples

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Writing a Business Report


And with an ample supply of data, the reports will pretty much write themselves. A business report is a written document that provides information, and sometimes analysis, to assist a business in making informed decisions. The main purpose of a business report is to make data that is relevant to the company, such as information regarding efficiency, competition, or procedures, easily available to everyone in the company. The report needs to make this data easy for the reader to understand.

The best way to do that is to have clearly defined sections with labels and headings. Let's say Michael wanted to share with his principal information he has accumulated regarding best practices for teaching Latin.

He could write a business report which may include some of the following fairly standard sections:. Michael would likely start his report with an executive summary.

Think of it as the Cliff's Notes of the business report. Michael would summarize the main points of the report, such as the report topic, the data obtained, the data analysis methods, and recommendations based on the data. The summary could be as short as a paragraph or as long as four pages, depending on the length of the full report. If Michael's principal is short on time, Michael would provide the executive summary to him so that he doesn't have to read the entire report.

While the executive summary comes first in a report, it is written after the main part of the report has been written. If the report is lengthy, Michael will include a table of contents. The table of contents lists the main topics the report covers and the page on which that information may be found.

If Michael's principal is looking for specific information, he can go straight to the page that contains it. When it comes to writing the report, Michael will probably start with the introduction.

The introduction sets the stage for what is included in the report. It highlights the major topics that are covered and provides background information on why the data in the report was collected. For example, Michael might state that the report describes the two most common teaching philosophies when it comes to teaching Latin and why he felt there was a need for a change from the teaching style usually supported by administration.

Michael is now ready to address the body of the report. The body of the report describes the problem, the data that was collected, how the data was collected, and discusses the major findings. The body may be broken into subsections, with subheadings that highlight the specific point to be covered in that subsection.

Finally Michael will bring it all together with the conclusion. The conclusion explains how the data described in the body of the document may be interpreted or what conclusions may be drawn. The conclusion often suggests how to use the data to improve some aspect of the business or recommends additional research.

For example, Michael may recommend that the principal allow him to remove the desks from his room, based on his research that suggested taking notes can sometimes detract from the language learning process. If Michael used other sources of information to help him write his report, such as a federal database, he would include that in the references.

The references section lists the resources used to research or collect the data for the report. References provide proof for your points and enable readers to review the original data sources themselves. Lastly, Michael may want to include an appendix. The appendix is optional and may include additional technical information that is not necessary to the explanation provided in the body and conclusion but supports the findings, such as charts or pictures, or additional research not cited in the body but relevant to the discussion.

If Michael isn't sure how to structure his report, he may want to investigate the wide variety of reports that many businesses use. Business reports generally fall into two categories: Informational reports provide factual information and do not include any analysis or recommendations. Analytical reports provide data as well as an analysis or interpretation of what the data means. Analytical reports may also include recommendations. Get FREE access for 5 days, just create an account. As for Michael, he'll probably be writing an analytical report since he's trying to convince his principal of something.

Writing a business report is no reason to panic. A business report is just a written document that provides information, and sometimes analysis, to help businesses make informed decisions. Remember that your goal is to provide the facts in an accessible and understandable way. Begin by knowing your objective for writing the report, your audience, and the type of report - analytical or informational - you want to write. Once you collect the data, organize your data into topics and subtopics with appropriate headings so that the reader understands the topics your report will cover, at a glance.

After you write the introduction, the body, and the conclusion of the report, then go back to create the executive summary and table of contents. Finish up by listing your references and tacking on an optional appendix that provides additional support for the data in your report.

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Formal Reports as Problem-Solving Documents: Following the Writing Process for Memos. Comparing Different Types of Proposals. Social Influences on Business: Types of Business Letters: How to Write Recommendation Reports: Ethical Issues in Formal Report Writing.

Comparing Types of Business Correspondence. Informational and Analytical Reports: Organizational Communication at FedEx. Negative Messages in the Workplace: Intro to Criminal Justice: Introduction to Political Science: In this lesson, you will learn why businesses need reports, what the parts of a typical business report are, some types of reports that may be needed, and a simple process for writing a business report. Writing a Business Report Do you panic at the thought of writing a business report?

Parts of a Business Report Let's say Michael wanted to share with his principal information he has accumulated regarding best practices for teaching Latin. He could write a business report which may include some of the following fairly standard sections: Executive Summary Michael would likely start his report with an executive summary. Table of Contents If the report is lengthy, Michael will include a table of contents. Introduction When it comes to writing the report, Michael will probably start with the introduction.

Body Michael is now ready to address the body of the report. Conclusion Finally Michael will bring it all together with the conclusion.

Reference If Michael used other sources of information to help him write his report, such as a federal database, he would include that in the references. Appendix Lastly, Michael may want to include an appendix. Informational Reports Informational reports provide factual information and do not include any analysis or recommendations. There are many examples of informational reports: Financial reports include cash flow statements, balance sheets, or the annual financial report required for publicly traded corporations, so stockholders can see how the company is fairing financially.

Business management reports include reports about labor expenses, web traffic, or customer satisfaction survey responses. There are also compliance information reports. In these reports, a company demonstrates it is complying with required regulations, for instance those regarding financial management. Present research from a study: This report generally summarizes a research study that has information or findings that relevant to the business.

Situational reports are generally written to a supervisor regarding a business situation, including what it was, how it was handled, and how it impacted the business. Improve polices or processes: These are periodic reports such as employee handbooks that provide employees with guidelines and procedures for their organization. Analytical Reports Analytical reports provide data as well as an analysis or interpretation of what the data means.

Here are some examples of analytical reports: Want to learn more? Select a subject to preview related courses: First we have SWOT analysis: SWOT stands for Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These reports analyze the business in light of what it does well, what it does poorly, and what outside influences can be seen as opportunities for improvement or might threaten the success of the business.

For instance, a pharmaceutical sales representative might provide a monthly summary of his or her sales calls. Report on a specific situation. A specific situation — as opposed to a fixed interval — calls for a situational report.

The situation can be as simple as the information provided at a conference or as complex as a report on the response to a natural disaster. These reports contain an introduction, body and conclusion. Use the introduction to identify the event and briefly preview what you cover in the body of the report. The conclusion discusses the undertaken or necessary actions for the situation.

Present several solutions for a problem or situation. A yardstick report weighs several potential solutions for a given situation. Based on the results, the writer would recommend a particular course of action. A yardstick report should contain an introduction, body and conclusion. The conclusion reveals the best solution or alternative. The report would then conclude which of the three countries is the best location for the new plant.

Determine your objective and format. Ask yourself what you would like the report to accomplish. Regardless of the answer, you need to make your objective concise. If it is muddled, then your report will only confuse your audience, which risks damaging the report's credibility. For instance, you may want to accomplish receiving a larger advertising budget for your department.

Your report should focus on the current advertising budget and how you might effectively use a larger budget. Consider the knowledge or familiarity the audience already has with the intended topic. Also, think about how the audience will use the information in the report. For instance, say you want to implement a job-share program for your division.

Consider how much they likely know about job-share programs already. The answer will set the tone for the report. If your company has never considered a job-share program, then the report will be both informational and strategic.

If the company has considered a job-share program, then the report will be less informational and more persuasive. Identify what you need to learn.

The hardest part of writing a business report isn't in the writing. This involves a variety of skills, including data collection and market analysis. What do you — and, in the end, management — need to know to make an informed decision about the topic?

Collect the appropriate data for your report. It is important that your data is well-researched; otherwise, you risk losing credibility. Data gathering itself is going to depend on the type of report that you write. Ensure that the data parameters you choose are concise and relevant to the point of the report. Data may come internally, which means you'll be able to collect it quite quickly.

Sales figures, for example, should be available from the sales department with a phone call, meaning you can receive your data and plug it into your report quickly. External data may also be available internally. If a department already performs customer analysis data collection, borrow that department's. You don't need to conduct the research on your own. This will be different for every type of business, but the writer of a business report often doesn't need to conduct firsthand research.

Organize and write the report. How you organize your report depends on your objective. For instance, you would organize a compliance report differently than a feasibility report. Once you have an idea of how you want to organize your report, you can write your content. Break up relevant data into separate sections. A business report can't be a big flood of figures and information.

Organizing the data into separate sections is key to the success of a well-written business report. For example, keep sales data separate from customer analysis data, each with its own header. Organize the report into appropriate section headers, which may be read through quickly as standalone research, but also supporting the basic objective of the report together.

Since some of the sections may depend upon analysis or input from others, you can often work on sections separately while waiting for the analysis to be completed. Draw conclusions with specific recommendations. Draw clear conclusions that follow logically from the data examined in the report. Clearly recommend the best course of action based on those conclusion, if appropriate. Write out any changes in job descriptions, schedules or expenses necessary to implement the new plan.

Write the executive summary. The executive summary should be the very first page of the report, but it should be the last thing that you write. The executive summary should present your findings and conclusions and give a very brief overview of what someone would read, should they choose to continue reading the entire report. It's like a trailer for a movie, or an abstract in an academic paper.

The executive summary gets its name because it's likely the only thing a busy executive would read. Tell your boss everything important here, in no more than words. The rest of the report can be perused if the boss is more curious. Use infographics for applicable data, if necessary. In some cases, you may find it helpful to include graphs or charts displaying quantitative data. Whenever possible, use bullet points, numbers or boxed data to help with readability. This sets your data apart from the rest of your report and helps to indicate its significance.

Generally speaking, visual figures are a great idea for business reports because the writing and the data itself can be a little dry. All infographics should be relevant and necessary. Use boxes on pages with a lot of text and no tables or figures. A page full of text can be tiresome for a reader. Boxed information can also effectively summarize important points on the page. Cite your sources, if necessary. Depending on what kind of research you've done, you might need to explain where you obtained your information.

The purpose of the bibliography or sources page in a business report is to provide a resource for others should they wish to follow up on the data and look into it. Use the appropriate formatting for the citations in your report, based on your industry.

Proofread your report twice. These errors can even call into question the credibility of your findings. Also, make sure that you present your information in a clear, concise way.

If your report and audience are both closely tied to a specific industry, it's appropriate to use jargon or technical terms.

But you have to take care to not overuse jargon and technical terms. Generally, business writing is written in the passive voice , and this is one of the few instances where passive writing is usually better than active active writing. You can often miss errors while proofreading your own work due to the familiarity from writing it.

Consider asking someone else in your department who wants the report to succeed to read over it as well. Be open to the feedback.


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In this lesson, you will learn why businesses need reports, what the parts of a typical business report are, some types of reports that may be needed, and a simple process for writing a business.

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Writing an effective business report is a necessary skill for communicating ideas in the business environment. Reports usually address a specific issue or problem, and are often commissioned when a decision needs to be made. They present the author’s findings in relation to .

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1 WRITING BUSINESS REPORTS WHAT IS A BUSINESS REPORT AND HOW DO I WRITE ONE? Business reports can take different forms. Generally, they are concise documents that first inform. If you would like to learn how to write a business report in English follow these tips and use the example report as a template on which to base your own business report. First of all, business reports provide important information for management that is timely and factual.

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What’s the Difference? • Different types of reports & report writing – academic, critical, analytical, etc • Research reports – Aim, method, results, conclusion. Learn how to write a well-constructed business report. In this course, author and senior Kelley School of Business lecturer Judy Steiner-Williams outlines the different types of business reports.