Communication and sharing of information have become critical in today’s world. Whether you are pursuing higher education or working for an organization, ‘report writing’ is at times a necessary part of your curriculum or job description.
People often mistake a report to be a summary note and write it like an essay or an article. However, there are certain differences which make report writing a specific set of writing skills, and you must know what to write and how to write it.
First, let’s take a look at the meaning of a report.
A report is usually a short, pointed and precise piece of written communication aimed to provide information to a specific audience on a given subject. It outlines and analyses a given situation, or problem and suggests the steps that can be taken to improve the situation or the outcome. A report is fact based, clear in language and well-structured.
Components of a report
Since reports are formal and usually required at workplace, there are often pre-defined structures and templates for reports that one needs to follow. These specifics and templates might vary depending upon the subject of the report and from one organization to another. Here let’s take a look at the standard components of a report:
- Brief description of the subject
- Interpretation of the importance of the incidents or situation (written by citing references, facts and expert opinions and providing clear references of the same)
- Evaluation of the facts referenced or the facts discovered in own research
- Potential outcomes of different scenarios
- Recommended course of action
As stated, these are universal components and the flow/structure may vary from one organization to another. You need to check standard guidelines or instructions before writing reports.
The precise nature of reports also makes report writing a specific set of writing skills and her are the steps that you need to follow while writing a report:
- Understanding the brief – A clear brief is provided for writing a report and it should be carefully analysed and understood. You must be clear about what you want to convey, to whom and what you want the readers to do.
- Following the structure guidelines/norms – Structures vary from one report to another, so you need to check specific guidelines and follow the same.
- Summary – Even though the summary or abstract of the report usually precedes the report, it should always be written at the end so that you know what key highlights or facts to mention in the summary.
- Introduction – It should give a brief description of the problem, and conclusions suggested in the report.
- Body of the report – It should be split into sections with numbered sub-headings highlighting the points/area of evaluation in each segment. All information provided/facts mentioned should be referenced to credible sources and need to be relevant to the core subject under discussion.
- Recommendations – This section would mention the suggested remedies, corrective steps that can be taken to improve the situation. These should be clear, measurable and achievable recommendations with estimated costs, course of action etc.
- Conclusion – Conclusion outlines what results/inferences the report aims to draw.
Writing style of a report
Being a document that would be read, referenced and used for strategic decision-making, report writing requires simple, precise and devoid of jargons. Writing short and impactful sentences is preferred. Also, a report serves a specific audience and the writing style as well as vocabulary has to be used with the audience in mind. For instance, writing a report for legal purposes would require different language and writing style than a medical report or a marketing strategy report.
Last, but not the least, you must always carefully proofread the entire report to ensure that nothing is missed, and all facts are referenced properly.
Following these tips would give you the writing skills essential to write reports that are read and appreciated by the target audiences!