Join Judy Steiner-Williams for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring business reports, part of Writing a Business Report.
- In the broader sense, being able to write an effective business report is a necessary skill for communicating ideas in the business environment. Business reports help companies make decisions and solve problems. There are probably as many report formats, purposes, and arrangements as there are types of companies. In other words, dozens. So, to say that there is one correct style or one correct arrangement would be incorrect and misleading.
The report types presented in this course, formal and informal, informational and analytical, and special and periodic, are representative of the types of reports business people write. Even though the types are categorized, they can and often do overlap. For example, an informational report may be a progress report, or that analytical business report may be a special report. So we're going to look at some of the commonalities of most business reports.
First, reports usually address an identified issue or problem. Their purpose may be just to provide background information, as an informational report. Or the purpose may be to offer recommendations for solving a problem, as in an analytical report. Second, all reports are factual and objective. Business reports pursuade or convince with factual support, although expert opinions can be part of that support, unless you've been asked specifically, your personal opinion should not be included.
Finally, whether one page or fifty pages, all reports need to be reader-friendly, easy-to-read. Internal headings, bulleted or numbered lists, and paragraphs of not more than six to ten lines should be used. Clear transition between section ideas is necessary for the reader to follow the discussion. The key to writing any good report, regardless of its type, purpose, link, or format is following the basic report writing process.
That process includes understanding clearly the report's purpose, collecting and interpreting valid and credible data, preparing a descriptive outline, and writing concisely and clearly to develop a well-organized, coherent final report, one which you are confident is high-quality and professional. Following the steps in this course, to prepare a formal analytical business report will help you understand what purposes each part serves, and help you determine which parts are necessary and important to your reader.
You can then drop or add portions for your specific situation.
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- Differentiate between formal and informal reports.
- Write an effective transmittal.
- Identify when to use an appendix and what to include.
- Cite the purpose of a tentative outline and create one for a report.
- Clarify and emphasize data with report graphics.
- Distinguish between primary and secondary research.
- Explain how to incorporate graphics in a report.
- Write a tentative outline.