“How to Write Business Reports” by Dr. Glen Farrelly is licensed under aCreativeCommons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.Attribution: Content for this document was adapted from Chapter 7.3 ofCommunication at WorkbyJordan Smith, licensed underCC BY 4.0.Key icon byFreepikfromFlaticon.P a g e1How To Write Business ReportsINTRODUCTION TOREPORTSReports serve operational and strategic purposes and have a vital role in most companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. As reports document specific information forspecific audiences, goals, or projects, they are foundational for the functioning of organizations.Report are often identified by its primary purpose or function, as in an accident report, laboratoryreport, sales report, or even a book report. Reports are often analytical, but sometimes they just“report the facts” with no analysis at all. Other reports summarize past events, present currentdata, and forecast future trends. Reports may also have conclusions, recommendations, oreven calls to action. They can also project the brand image of an organization.Reports take many forms and are published in various media. All generally begin as a writtendocument, such as an email or Microsoft Word document. They may be saved as a PDF file,converted to a webpage, printed in booklet form, or highlighted in an oral presentation.Formal reports often have industry or organization-specific conventions and styles that arecrucial to follow to accomplish one’s goals and to establish credibility. With reports having suchimportance and differing approaches, it is crucial to learn how to write one effectively.This reading covers the following topics:1. Purpose of Reports2. Types of Reports3. Common Elements4. Preparation5. Writing Tips6. Appearance Matters7. Checklist for Effective Reports1PURPOSE OFREPORTSThe purpose of a report depends on the individual organization and the objectives at hand, butin all cases, reports are an essential part of organizational decision-making and planning. Theyare often used to inform and update supervisors, co-workers, or stakeholders about a topic,event, or issue. Reports are essential in projects to help coordinate initiatives and activities.
P a g e 2Finally, reports document an organization’s activities to serve as a legal record, for complianceprocesses or for historical comparisons (such as benchmarking).Because reports vary by size, format, and function, writing them involves adjusting to the needsof the audience while respecting established conventions and guidelines. Reports are typicallywritten to address six key elements, the 5Ws + H:1.Whom the report is about and/or prepared for2. Where the subject studied occurred3. When the subject studied occurred4.Why the report was written (function) and for what reason5.What was done, what problems were addressed, and the results, including conclusionsand/or recommendations6.How the subject operated, functioned, or was usedPay attention to these essential elements when you consider your stakeholders. That mayinclude the person(s) the report is about, whom it is for, and the larger audience of the business,organization, or industry. Ask yourself who are the key decision makers reading the report, whothe experts or supervisors will be, and how executives and workers may interpret your words