Five Guidelines for Effective Business Reports

Updated on 14 April 2023

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five guidelines for effective business reports

All types of businesses need to create reports at some stage. Whether it’s a financial report, a marketing report, or an overall business performance report, understanding how to create these documents is important.

There’s a lot that can go into creating a business report. However, you want to make sure that you keep the report clear, concise, and focused on a few key points. This is necessary for helping the report achieve its purpose.

To help you out, here are five guidelines and steps you can follow when creating a business report.

1.  Establish What Type Of Report You Need

Before you start creating your business report, you need to be clear on what type of report you need. The type of report you create should be based on what you want the report to achieve.

Here are a few common types of business reports you can create:

  • Compliance reports: A compliance report looks into whether an organisation is following all of the relevant laws and regulations to see how the company is performing and assess areas in the company that could improve compliance.
  • Recommendation reports: These reports cover different courses of action a company could take and recommend the best option.
  • Progress reports: These are reports that outline an organisation or team’s progress on a certain project or goal.
  • Feasibility reports: Feasibility reports look into the costs, risks, and possibilities of a plan or proposal to determine whether it’s worth the organisation pursuing.

These are just a few examples of business reports. So establish what you want the report to achieve, and then you can plan out the report properly.

2.  Structure the Business Report

Before you write the business report, establish a structure the report will follow. The business report structure should be intuitive, easy to follow, and break the report down into key sections.

Some of the main sections a business report Should cover includes:

  • The title page of the report outlines what the report is about and the key details it covers
  • Table of contents to make the report easier to navigate
  • An introduction to establishing what the report is about and what it aims to achieve
  • Methods and findings that outline how data was researched and used. Graphs and charts are great ways to display key data findings.
  • A conclusion that wraps up the report’s key findings and summarises what the report covered.

While each report will look different, these are the basic elements the report should include.

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3.  Make the Report Easy to Read

Even though your report might contain a lot of detailed information, you want to make sure it’s easy to skim and quickly digest. To do this, try to focus on making the facts clear, and visualizing data in the form of charts and graphs. Include brief summaries of key sections and findings, and make the headings of each section in the reported crystal clear. People should be able to open the report and quickly find the information and takeaways they’re looking for.

4.  Proofread the Report

This may sound obvious, but make sure you take the time to carefully proofread your report. Double-check all facts and figures, and ensure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes.

You should also ensure all citations are properly used for your data, and that the report is easy to read with data that’s easy to understand. Simplify anything your reader might struggle to grasp. Remember, business reports should always be very clear and straightforward.

5.  Keep it Professional

When writing a business report, you’ll want to keep your tone professional. Use formal English, back up any claims you make with statistics, and try to maintain an objective position. Business reports should not be emotional in any way. Instead, they should focus on facts and data findings to establish a clear position on what the report aims to achieve.

Avoid using words like “seems” or “feels” and always try to back up anything you say with data. This gives the business report more credibility. No matter what type of business report you need to make, these are the general guidelines you should always follow. Most importantly, establish what you want to achieve from the report and make it easy to read and understand. Back everything up with data, and ensure your report maintains an objective, professional tone.

Once you master writing business reports, you can use this skill in many different areas of running your business. This is a valuable skill that any entrepreneur or professional should know.

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