Imagine this – you are a busy, senior level manager, overseeing a number of departments of the organization, you work for. Every quarter the managers of various departments submit report, of how their respective departments have performed. Such business writings are important and have to be read carefully, to analyze overall working of each department and decide if any corrective measures need to be taken to boost the performance of any department. Going through such reports usually takes time. But what can be more frustrating is, each manager using a different business report format. This makes reading the reports more time-consuming as you have to read through the whole report carefully, to look for specific information.
Importance of Business Report Format
A business report is not an example of creative writing which a reader should go through word by word. It is mainly about statistics and specific information. Moreover, people who read such reports are busy personnel of high rank. They do not have time to go through each and every word. They look for particular information and if an organization follows a specific format for such reports, such personnel know exactly which part of the report to look, for specific information. This saves them a lot of time. Secondly, following a standard format also allows one to organize his report effectively and logically. This is specially useful in case the report has a lot of data. Also, one won’t forget to cover information on particular area, if one refers to a sample business report. Hence, knowing how to write one is very important in the business world.
When writing the format, first write the body of the report and then fill in the details. Make sure you use a font which is clear to read and commonly used like Arial or Times News Roman. Also, make sure you use bold, italics and underline to make the header and sub-heads stand out. Take care to use enough white spaces, at important places to make your data stand out clearly.
Format for a Business Report
There are few standard rules for writing business reports that dictate what information should come in which section of the report. This format is followed in most of the business report examples, that one may refer to. The most widely used format consists of the following standard sections:
In a short report, this could be the first page bearing the title of the report, author name and date. The reason of making such a report could also be included in this section, so that the reader can establish an instant connection with the information in subsequent sections. In case of long reports, include the Table of Contents, Terms of References and so on.
As the name suggests, this is the summary of the whole report. Then why include it in the beginning? It is because this is the section that most of the senior personnel, who do not have enough time read the whole report, will read through. Hence, give a very clear and precise information about the problem/aspect of business that the report is analyzing. Also, include the main points, conclusions, recommendations and important results. Use bullets or numbered lists to highlight important points..
List the methodologies used in your research, like if you interviewed focus groups or consulted research firms. Also, give the reason why you resorted to using a particular methodology.
This is the first part of a proper report. Use this section to provide the background of the report. Highlight the reasons why the report is important for the readers. Include information about what is covered in the main body and the order in which the details are covered in the report. In case, the Terms of Reference has not been mentioned in the Title Section, Introduction is the section to include it.
This is the heart of the report. Arrange all the information in order of priority, so that this section follows a logical sequence. Divide this section further into subsections. Lend greater order to the Main Body using sub-titles within each subsection. A paragraph about the relevance of the findings of the report can also be included in this section.
Another important factor when writing format of business report is data tabulation. Presenting your data in lists or tables can help in readily understanding the report. Also, data tabulation or listing, makes the report look professional and neat. So, accompany necessary lists or tables in your report whenever required. Make sure you use neutral colors to make tables and keep the list and tables looking neat and crisp.
Present logical conclusions for the topic investigated in the report. One can also suggest an option for the way forward. In case, discussion has not been included in the Main Body, include it in the conclusion. Otherwise keep this section small.
Since you have worked on the report, no one would have a better understanding of the topic than you. There may be a few solutions or actions that you think would be effective in dealing with the problem, investigated in the report. Include those solutions in this section. List them in bullets and numbered lists for easier comprehension.
Although very few people read the Appendix, the information in this section gives support to the arguments used in the report. It is the Appendix where the author includes all the sources and research information, in detail.
Although it is not about creative writing, good writing skills are important in business information reports, as one needs to give comprehensive information using precise words. It is advisable to keep the language simple and lucid in a business report, specially in the Summary and the Recommendations, as these are the sections most commonly read by senior level managers. However, some technical jargon can be used in the Main Body, as this is the section that is mostly read by experts.
In the world of business, time is money. Following a standard business report format is what senior level managers and busy businessmen look for, as it reflects what they value the most, that is effective utilization of time. You can find many such examples online and use them as a reference for designing a suitable report format.