Module 7: Reports
- Learn about different types of business reports
- Learn about the format for each type of report
- Learn to write the different types of business reports
Business reports are used as a way of communicating to other businesses and investors the successes and future plans of the company. Therefore, business reports are essential to every company. Typically, a business report will start with a formal introduction that states a problem the business aims to solve. Then, the body of the report gives facts and hypothesis used to solve these problem/s. The conclusion will tie up all loose ends and give goals to be reached in future business ventures.
Writing A Business Report
When writing a business report, it is important to remember the following tips:
- Know the audience that will be reading the report.
- Use a professional and objective business style.
- Include factual information that proves your statements.
- Organize this factual data in easy-to-read charts and graphs.
- Keep all sections well-organized and in an easy-to-navigate fashion.
The audience of the report should be identified early in the writing process. An audience’s background, knowledge, and need for the information need to be characterized for the report to be usable. Further questions as to why the audience needs this information should also be identified. What circumstances brought about the need for this information? In answering these questions early in the writing process, the author will be able to anticipate questions the reader might have.
Remember when compiling a business report that it needs to hold the interest of the reader. To accomplish this goal, one must be attentive to the overall design. There should be enough factual information to make the report credible, but not so much dry, technical language as to lose the reader on the first page. By interspersing charts, graphs, and pictures, the author will increase the likelihood that the report will hold the reader’s interest and focus.
It is always a beneficial to begin the report with an eye-catching picture or question. This can persuade the reader to read further to find the answer or to see how the picture fits into the overall report. After this, it is important to include factual data. If possible, ask questions of the reader throughout. This allows the reader to become more involved in the overall process, which keeps their attention. A business report should be written assuming the reader has little knowledge of the company because these reports are read by those in and out of the organization. Business reports should have a cohesive message so readers to not draw incorrect conclusions.
It is important to include graphics in a report. Graphics are visual descriptions of information that can be easily understood by the reader. In many work settings the audience is a business professional with limited time. Various graphics can help to convey the pertinent information quickly. It is important to take the reader centered approach when creating graphics. Consider your audience and what information you want to convey. Examples of graphics are:
- pie charts: Pie charts are useful for showing different portions or divisions of a whole. For example, showing what percentages of expenses come from which department in a company.
- bar graphs: Bar graphs can be used to show the amounts or frequency of occurrence of different characteristics of data.
- trend graphs: Trend graphs show how data is distributed over time. Trend graphs are also known as X/Y scatter plots.
- pictures: Pictures and illustrations are useful in manuals or instructions to show the subject you are writing about. They can also make a document more interesting and intriguing.
Graphics are powerful tools in report writing but they are not always appropriate. If there is not a place for a graph or other graphic in the report do not try to force one in. Not only will an unnecessary graph clutter a report, it will weaken your credibility. Take care to make sure that the graphic you choose delivers the message and information you want.
A good report includes factual details that support the purpose of the report. Keep the reader in mind when selecting these details because too many technical details may be difficult to understand. The details should support the purpose of the report and be necessary for the reader to be persuaded.
While composing a business report or any report requiring factual information it is important to conduct research. By using credible information you will establish credibility, meet your reader’s needs, and persuade your audience. The following are five methods of conducting research.
Using your memory and creativity to explore ideas
• Brainstorming, free writing, or creating flow charts, matrices, or cluster sketches
• Using search engines or internet directories. Be careful during this to ensure proper citation and the sights you are getting information from are credible sources and not just a bloggers opinion.
• Using indexes, references, government documents, or computerized full-text sources
• Conducting a face-to-face interview or telephone interview. Make sure you know something about the person or have a reference. People are generally more willing to set up interviews when they are not “cold calls”
• Conducting a survey to retrieve information from a large group of people. When dealing with the results, remember who it is that you surveyed to see if there could be skewed results.
Information borrowed from another source needs to be cited. Variations of citation methods can be used for the report. The most important part is making sure to include citations. Not only will you lose credibility among colleges for plagiarism, you can be sued and fined by the original author.
In this module we will be talking about the following types of reports:
- Instruction and Process
Each section in the module will describe each type of report and how to develop one.