HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS REPORTName : Ema ManoaID : s11006456TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction 1 Planning Business Report 2 Purpose of this Report? 2Who are the readers of this report? 2Reports main Message? 3Will message be structured? 3Structing your business report 4Covering letter 4Tittle Page 5Executive Summary 5Table of Contents 5Introduction 6Conclusions/recommendations 6Findings and discussions 8References 8Appendices 8Writing your business report 10Use effective headings and subheadings 10Structure your paragraph well 11Write clear sentences with plain language 12Keep your writing professional 13Use white space and well chosen fonts 14 Number your pages 14Use footnotes, tables, figures, and appendices appropriately 14Concluding remarks 17References 17IntroductionWriting 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 the issue or problem and then recommend a course of action for the organisation to take. The key to a good report is in-depth analysis. Good writers will show their reader how they have interpreted their findings. The reader will understand their basis on which the conclusions are drawn as well as the rationale for the recommendationsPlanning your business reportAs in all writing, planning is vitally important.
The key questions to ask you when planning a business report are:what is the purpose of this report?what are the reports main message?how will the report be structured?What is the purpose of this report?Keep in mind that the purpose of a business report is generally to assist in decision making. Be sure you are clear on what decision is to be made and the role of the report plays in this decision. It might be useful to consider the purpose in this way: As a result of this report , my readers will….For example: As a result of this report , my readers will know:- how well our recycling program is doing- how to increase participation in itWho are the readers of this report?Consider the main reader/s, but also secondary readers.
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The main reader for the recycling report alluded to above is the director of the recycling programme. Secondary readers might be the facilities management team on campus, the finance team, etc.Try to understand what the readers already know, what they need to know, and how will they use this report. You will need to give enough information to satisfy all this potential readers. You will need to use headings carefully so that different readers can use the report in different ways.What are the report’s main message?Taking into account the information above , think carefully about the main message/s you need to convey, and therefore what information is required.Ask yourself: What are the required pieces of information I need to include?How will the message be structured?The modern business approach is direct (or deductive, to use a more sophisticated term). This approach presents the conclusion or recommendations near the beginning of the report, and the report provides justification for this recommendations.
This approach will be used for the remainder of this handbook and for reporting writing in general in the Victoria Business School (Commerce Faculty)It should be noted, however that there is sometimes a place for the indirect (inductive) approach. This approach leads the reader through the discussion first and reveals the conclusions and recommendations at the end of the report. This approach might be used if the recommendations are likely to be controversial or unpopular (Emerson, 1995)The next step is to construct an outline, or structure of your report. Check for a logical flow, and check your outline against your purpose your reader/s and the report’s relevant information requirementsStructuring your business reportA business report may containA covering letter or memorandumA title pageAn executive summaryA table of content An introductionConclusionsRecommendationsFindings and discussions A list of referencesAppendicesCovering letter/memorandumIf the recipient is outside the organisation, a letter format is appropriate. If the recipient is inside the organisation, a memorandum/memo is appropriateCovering letter or Memorandum should:Remind the reader of their request for the reportState the purpose of the reportAcknowledge any assistanceIndicate future actions to be takenTitle Page The title page should be brief but descriptive of the project. It should also include the date of completion/submission of the report, the author/s, and their association/organisation.
Executive summaryThe executive summary follows the title page, and should make sense on it’s own. The executive summary helps the reader quickly grasp the reports purpose, conclusions, and key recommendations. You may think of this as something the busy executive might read to get a feel of your report and it’s final conclusions. The executive summary should be no longer than one page. The executive summary differs from an abstract in that it provides the key recommendations and conclusions, rather than a summary of the document.Table of ContentsThe table of contents follows the executive summary on a new page. It states the pages for various sections.
The reader receives a clear orientation to the report as the table of contents lists all the headings and sub – headings in the report. This heading and sub – headings should be descriptive of the content they release to ( see section 3 of this handbook)IntroductionThe introduction sets the stage of the reader. It gives the context for the report and generates the reader/s interest. It orients the reader to the purpose of the report and gives them a clear indication of what they can expectIntroduction should:Briefly describe the contextIdentify the general subject matterDescribe the issue or problem to be reported on State the specific questions the report answersOutline the scope of the reportPreview the report structureComment on the limitations of the report and any assumptions madeConclusions/RecommendationsBusiness report usually needs both conclusion and recommendations. The difference between conclusions and recommendations in a report lies in the orientation to time. It relates to the present or past situation.When writing conclusions:Interpret and summarise the findings (what they mean)Relate the conclusions to the report issue/problemLimit he conclusion to the data presentedNumber the conclusion and present themBe objectiveRecommendations are oriented to the future: what changes are recommended, or what actions are recommended for the future? They are specific, action oriented actions to solve the report problemWhen writing recommendations:Make specific suggestions for actions to solve the report problemAvoid conditional words such as maybe and perhapsPresent each suggestions separately and begin with a verb Although the conclusions and recommendations are presented before the discussion they need to logically flow from the discussion. Taking a deductive approach allows the reader insight into your conclusions/recommendations early on.
Findings and DiscussionsThe discussion is the main part of your report and should presentFindings and discussionsThe discussion is the main part of your report and should present and discuss your findings. It should give enough information, analysis, and evidence to support your conclusions, and it should provide justification for your recommendations. It’s organisation will depend on your purpose, scope, and requirements, but it should follow a logical and systematic organisation. The discussion should be subdivided into logical sections, each with informative, descriptive headings and a number.Where your reports purpose is to recommend the best solution to a problem, you should show clear analysis of all options. You should explain any analytical framework you used, such as SWOT, or cost benefit analysis.
This analysis of options can often be presented affectively in tablesReferencesWhenever you use information from other sources, references must be provided in-text and in a list of references. The style of referencing may be dictated by your faculty or organisation. The Faculty of Commerce at Victoria uses APA. See the Victoria Business School Writing Skills Workbook (that you were given in first year in the FCOM 111 course) for information on APA referencing or see the APA manual (APA, 2010). You can download a copy of the Writing Skills Workbook from the VBS website.AppendicesIf material is important to your discussion and is directly referred to, then it should be included in your discussion proper. However, you might want to use appendices to include supplementary material that enhances understanding for the reader. You might use appendices that provide details on the process or analysis you underwent (or which was required by your supervisor or lecturer).
9Appendices should:Provide detail explanation serving the needs of specific readersBe clearly and neatly set outBe numbered Be given descriptive titleArrange in the order they are mentioned in the textWriting your business reportNow that you have organised your thoughts, you need to put them into writing. Ensure your writing demonstrates clarity and logic. You should think constantly about your readers and make your report easy for them to read. To achieve good readability, you should:Use effective headings and subheadingsStructure your paragraphs wellWrite clear sentences with plain language Keep your writing professionalUse white space and well chosen fontsNumber your pagesUse footnotes, tables, figures, and appendices appropriately Use effective headings and subheadingsHeadings and subheadings are useful tools in business writing. Ensure they are descriptive of the content to follow. In other words, rather than labelling a section Section 2. Use formatting (font size/bold, etc) to show headings versus subheadings.
Headings/Subheadings at the same level should use parallel form (same grammatical construction).Use sentence case for headings. Remember to ensure that all material placed underneath a heading serves that heading. It is easy to go off on a target that does not relate to your purpose of the report.
Structure your paragraphs wellYour headings will help create logical flow for your reader, but under each heading, you should create a series of paragraphs that are logically ordered and structured. Paragraphs should be ordered into a logical sequence beginning with the most important material first. Within your paragraphs you should also use a structure that helps your reader. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that states the main idea or topic of the paragraph. Typically a paragraph will have between 100 and 200 words and will have the following structure:Topic sentenceExplanation sentenceSupport sentenceConcluding sentenceRemember to link your paragraphs as well.
The first sentence is a good place to make a link between paragraphs. One of the most common ways to link paragraphs is to use the principle, something old, something new. This means will include a word or phrase that contrasts the topic of the previous paragraph with the topic of your new paragraphWrite clear sentences with plain languageAcademic and business should be clear. You want to clearly communicate your understanding of the topic and the strength of your argument. In order to do this, keep your sentences short and use plain language where you can (Write, limited 2013). Sentences that are too long and complicated are too difficult to understand. A goods average length is 15-20 words. Try not to go over two lines.
Keep your writing professionalEnsure you use an appropriate tone for your readers. Where possible, use personal pronouns we and you: We recommend you check the buildings foundations. Personal pronouns create a friendly tone that is appropriate for the business. They also help the writer avoid the passive voice. However sometimes you might want a more formal tone where personal pronouns are not appropriate.
Another way of ensuring appropriate tone is to avoid terms that may be interpreted as offensive to ethnic or other groups. Be careful to use gender-neutral terms. Another aspect of tone relates to the use of contractions. Contractions are words like we’ve or it’s. They are informal for many business reports and for all academic reports, you will need to avoid them and write we have or it is.
Other important characteristics of professional writing are editing and proofreading. You should leave between 24 hours between writing your draft and editing it. You should also leave another 24 hours between editing and proofreading. Leaving time between this stages of the writing process allows you to detach yourself from your writing and put yourself in your reader’s shoes.
When editing, check for:Illogical structureMissing headingsIrrelevant or missing contentUnnecessary content Redundant phrases or wordsWhen proofreading, check forGrammar PunctuationSpelling Formatting Consistency Remember to leave enough time for these last two stages. Through editing and proofreading it will make a big difference to the readability of your report and it is a courtesy to the readerUse white space and well-chosen fontsWhite spaces refers to the empty space on the page. Business reports which have more unbalanced use of the white space and text are easier to read and more effectively communicate main points and subordinate ideas.
Create white space by:Using lots of headings and subheadingsCreate large margins along all edgesBreaking up your page with tables, charts, and paragraphs where possibleUsing bulleted listsNumber your pagesYour title has no number. Use Roman numerals for the executive summary and table of contents ( i, ii, iii..
.), and Arabic numerals for the remainder of the report (1, 2, 3..
.)Use your footnotes, tables, figures, and appendices appropriatelyFootnotes should be used sparingly. Points that are important can usually be integrated into the text. Footnotes or endnotes should not be used for referencing.In reports, tables and figures are often us to represent data, process, etc. Tables and figures should be inserted in the text of the document, close to the discussion of the table/figure. If the information is something which the reader could refer to rather should refer to, then it may go to the appendices. Tables and figures have different purposes.
A table contains an array of numbers or text. A figure is something that contains graphical content, such as graphs created in Excel, organisational charts or flow charts. Footnotes immediately underneath the table or figure should be used to explain all abbreviations and symbols used. Do not forget to add the source of your materialConcluding RemarksNow that you have the tools to develop your report, your communication should be more efficient and effectiveReferenceWrite Limited (2013) the write guide for New Zealand : a manual business editing