A business report is very different from writing an academic essay.
DATA : Business reports use facts and research to study data, analyze performance, and provide recommendations on a company’s future. Every fact must be clear and verifiable, regardless of whether the report focuses on a single situation or examines the overall performance of an entire company.
IMPERSONAL STYLE: A business report should remain impersonal and framed from the company’s perspective.
ACCEPT FEEDBACK: A business report is very often a collaborative exercise, be open to feedback and comments from colleagues.
The structure of a report
The style of a report will change depending on the length, the audience and the objective of the report. However, many aspects remain the same and these points are common to all reports:
- Front matter: List your name, job title, contact information, and the date of submission. You can also create a title for the report.
- Background: State the background of the topic you’ll be addressing, along with the purpose of the report itself.
- Key findings: Provide facts, data, and key findings that are relevant to the purpose stated in the background. Be clear and specific, especially because the entire report depends on the information in this section.
- Conclusion: Summarize and interpret the key findings, identify issues found within the data, and answer questions raised by the purpose.
- Recommendations: Recommend solutions to any problems mentioned in the conclusion, and summarize how these solutions would work. Although you’re providing your own opinion in this section, avoid using personal pronouns and keep everything framed through the company’s perspective.
- References: List the sources for all the data you’ve cited throughout the report. This allows people to see where you got your information and investigate these same sources.
Some companies may also require an executive summary after the front matter section, which is a complete summary that includes the report’s background, key findings, and recommendations. This section lets people learn the highlights quickly without having to read the entire document. The size of an executive summary can range from a paragraph to multiple pages, depending on the length of the report.