Business report format
Readers of business reports expect certain information to be in certain places. They do not expect to search for what they want and the harder you make it for them the more likely they are to toss your report to one side and ignore it. So what should you do?
1. Follow the generally accepted format for a business report: Title/Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Introduction, Main Body, Conclusions, Recommendations and Reference List.
2. Organise your information within each section in a logical fashion with the reader in mind, usually putting things in order of priority - most important first.
Report Title/Table of Contents. This is simply the front cover page identifying the report and a Table of Contents page showing each key section of the report and the page number where it can be found in the report.
Executive Summary. Give a clear and very concise account of the main points, main conclusions and main recommendations. Keep it very short, a few percent of the total length. Some people, especially senior managers, may not read anything else so write as if it were a stand-alone document. It isn`t but for some people it might as well be. Keep it brief and free from jargon so that anyone can understand it and get the main points. Write it last, but do not copy and paste from the report itself; that rarely works well.
Introduction. This is the first part of the report proper. Use it to paint the background to `the problem` and to show the reader why the report is important to them. Then explain how the details that follow are arranged. Write it in plain English.
Main Body. This is the heart of your report, the facts. It will probably have several sections or sub-sections each with its own subtitle. It is unique to your report and will describe what you discovered about `the problem`.
These sections are most likely to be read by experts so you can use some appropriate jargon but explain it as you introduce it. Arrange the information logically, normally putting things in order of priority -- most important first. In fact, follow that advice in every section of your report.
Conclusion. Present the logical conclusions of your investigation of `the problem`. Bring it all together and maybe offer options for the way forward. Many people will read this section. Write it in plain English.
Recommendations. What do you suggest should be done? Don`t be shy; you did the work so state your recommendations in order of priority, and in plain English.
References. As your business report must be academically sound as well as making good business sense, it is essential that your report is supported by accurate in-text referencing and the inclusion of a reference list. Although some business reports in the workplace do not require full referencing (and some students may be used to this), it is a requirement in the academic environment. This is equitable for all students.