Better Business Writing: The Anatomy of a Business Report

The world of business is fast paced and sometimes relies on quick decisions. For creative writers, crafting a business report can be tricky because messages must be very concise. Details are great and still necessary, but the audience of a technical document needs the most important information without “fluff” around it. To stay on track, here is a break down of the necessary pieces of a basic business report.

Executive Summary
This is essentially a mini version of the report. The reader should be able to see all major findings and make a decision based on the concise information given in the executive summary. Often, this could be the only part your audience has time to read so it must get straight to the point.

To begin the report, state the problem and any questions that need to be asked in order to solve the problem. Avoid giving too much history on the topic; that comes next.

Here you have an opportunity to provide the purpose and scope of the report.  Give any necessary details needed for the reader to understand why the report was compiled. This puts the problem into context.

Interpret and analyze research and data that are used to support the recommendations of the report. Subheadings are helpful here to guide the reader through all of the information. If you decide to insert a figure such as a chart or graph to visually represent information, make sure you name your figure and explain what it is showing.

Without giving any new information, simply summarize the findings from the discussion section. You have already explained the implications in the discussion section, so this is a summary. Clarity is key!

Now that you have presented data to support any recommendations you may have, present them in a clear way, such as a bulleted list. They should be command statements so the organization can potentially use your recommendations.

You may have additional items that were referenced in the text that you need extra space to expand on. This can include surveys, interview transcripts, and even photos useful for the report. Use the appendix for this information.

All sources throughout the document should be in APA format, and given a proper citation on the reference page so the reader can do addition information if necessary

Depending on your specific task or topic, you may add or take away some sections. Formats for business reports are flexible, but having a basic outline helps you to hit all important areas. And remember, above all else, be clear and be concise.

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