Writing Different Types of Business Reports

The following is an article written by Robin Fritz for eHow.com’s Money feature:

In the business world, good writing can get you noticed, hired and promoted.  And, much like a Super Bowl commercial, a well written report is an opportunity to highlight your skills.  But as a busy manager, how do you write a business report?  The following tips will help you tackle a variety of reports:

Know your purpose.  What have you been asked to do?  Are you providing information only?  Then, you’re writing an informational report.  Are you analyzing a problem and making recommendations to solve it?  If so, you’re writing an analytical report.  Are you describing a conference, meeting, or monthly progress on a project?  Then, you’re writing a standard report.  Knowing your purpose keeps you on target.  It gives you focus.

Identify your audience.  Who are you writing to – a client?  Your supervisor?  That individual is your primary audience.  But what if your supervisor shows it to her supervisor?  Then, you have a secondary audience.  Knowing potential audiences will help you identify the proper tone, whether formal or informal.

Analyze your audiences.  What do your audiences know about this topic?  Do you need to educate them?  Can you use industry jargon?  Analyzing your audience helps you avoid leaving out key information.  It saves you – and your audience – time.

Research your topic.  Brainstorm ideas.  What information already exists and what’s missing?  What sources are trusted by your audience?  Asking key questions gives you a research plan for your business report and gets you moving in the right direction.

Organize your research.  Look for relationships.  Ignore irrelevant information. Identify your strongest ideas and start your business report with them.  Good organization builds an outline and – most importantly – helps avoid writer’s block.

Compose your report.  Adopt a conversational tone.  Avoid trite business phrases like “per your request.”  Use vivid, precise language.  Focus on being clear and concise.  Use transitional expressions.

Revise and proofread your work.  Edit with “fresh eyes” only.  Review your content – are you satisfied?  If not, re-write.  Proofread for spelling, grammar and formatting.  Use your spell checker, but DON’T rely on it.  Verify noun/verb/pronoun agreement.  Check for page numbers.  Error free work is an advertisement for your skills.  Take the time to proofread carefully.

Evaluate the final product.  Did you achieve your purpose?  Does your tone match your audience?  Did you do justice to the topic?  Is it free from errors?  If you can say yes, congratulations!  You have a business report of which you can be proud.



  1. Mike said,

    September 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Much like a good marketer or a student, the word ‘report’ rings the loudest. The mix of business and education gather as entities or experts and will ask for reports as tools to provide measurements of progress and understanding. Although your knowledge and experience exceeds mine, I feel you have left out a very important level of preparation.
    Anticipation or expectation; being one step ahead; funneling the desired result by being prepared to make a response or accept critique through response. (relates to another article by you about team or group participation.) Yes, knowing the audience, purpose, and facts improves your position as a reliable source; being that go-to source will require you to analyze and know what to expect.

    • X204 Project said,

      September 20, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Mike – you’re a so right! A great deal has been left out of this very brief introduction to report writing. If anything, this is an introduction to Step A of Steps A through Z. But it gives new business writers a place to start and a direction in which to go. Even with report writing, one must crawl before one walks, before one runs, before one climbs, before one ever attempts to hike the Application Trail. For some of my students and for many young people just entering the world of work, when it comes to report writing, they’re still learning how to crawl.

      Regarding preparation, I teach a writing process which has, at its heart, research and organization. Hopefully in a week or two, I will have the time to briefly introduce that writing process and its steps. But it’s just a model and, like anything, it requires practice before one is able to adapt it successfully to whatever task is at hand.

      Thanks so much for your comment and please share some feedback with my students as they begin to post their entries. I would welcome some active dialogue between them and the public.

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