At some point in your life as a student, intern, or employee of a corporate company, you will be asked to prepare a professional report by your professor or direct manager.
A professional report is a formal document that delivers specific information about a topic to a particular audience. Though it may seem like a simple task to perform, report writing is actually a skill that requires much knowledge and practice to carry out successfully. This is a craft that can help employees enhance their written communication capabilities to persuade and influence an audience effectively.
A formal report is written for a specific purpose. This can be to inform or persuade readers about a particular topic that may be relevant in their field. Here, detailed information and evidence are presented, examined, and applied to a significant problem or issue. This information is presented and organized in a structured format consisting of sections and headings that are categorized according to its purpose in the study.
This also makes it easier for readers to locate the information they are searching without having to read the entire document from the start.
Not only can a well-written report provide useful information in a clear and concise manner, but it can also help the author establish credibility and authority on the subject matter discussed in the report.
In most cases, people who are asked to prepare the general report are given a report brief which supplies them with instructions and guidelines as to how the report should be written. This includes a report outline on its purpose, audience, and problem or issue that shall be tackled in the document, along with any specific requirements regarding its format or structure.
This guide, together with the instructions provided by your department, must be taken into account when writing a professional report.
Generally, reports are a written simple assessment used to either find out what you have learned from a research or an experience, or to offer you the experience of an important skill that must be developed and administered in the workplace.
An effective report also presents and analyzes factual evidences that are associated with the problem or issue discussed in the document. Since these evidences are usually generated through various research and data gathering methods, it’s also important for these sources to be acknowledged and referenced accordingly. Not giving credit where it is due may result in plagiarism, which is also considered as an act of fraud.
Professional reports are usually assessed by the way the writer is able to abide to the organizational requirements while simultaneously filling its content with engaging and relevant information.
This demonstrates a writer’s ability to understand the basis or function of the report and adhere to its specifications, collect and examine relevant information, structure the said material in a logical order, and present it in a manner that is consistent with the instructions indicated in the report brief. Conclusions and recommendations must also be supported by the evidence and general analysis acquired from the research.
When writing a report, you need to structure your content according to a specified format. Though report formats may vary depending on its intended purpose, the following items are some of the main features that make up a professional report:
This part of your simple report should briefly, yet explicitly, describe the purpose of the report in one complete line. Capital letters and punctuation must also be applied carefully. You must also include other important details such as your complete name as the author (along with your co-author, if any), the date, and for whom the report is written. Bear in mind that the topic or subject matter must be written in a larger font as compared to the rest of the items found in the page.
Under this heading, you can also include a short explanation of who will read the report, why it was written, and how it was written.
A report submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for Course ICT121, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Leicester.
You can present it as a subtitle or in the form of a single paragraph in your report. You may also see project report examples.
Also referred to as an executive summary or abstract, this section of the document should briefly describe the content of your report. Since a summary is only meant to provide a general overview of the entire report, it’s best to aim for a summary that is about 1/2 a page in length containing an outline of your main points.
Remember, the general summary is the first thing a person reads. People who are in a hurry don’t even bother reading the entire document if a summary has already been provided. However, your summary must also be compelling enough to prompt a reader to turn the page. This is the best way to capture a reader’s attention and keep them engaged.
Given that a professional report is structured in such a way that sections are divided into different chapters and/or headings, your contents page should arrange these areas in a chronological order. Chapter headings and pages must also be numbered according to what comes first. This will make it easier for a reader to find exactly what they’re looking for in the document. You may also see status report examples.
This is where you’re meant to set the scene for the main body. Here, the aims and objectives of the report should be defined in complete detail. The scopes and limitations of the study should also be identified, as well as the research methods, its parameters, and any background history essential to the topic. You may also like research report examples.
Let’s say you’re preparing a lab report based on a theory or study. Naturally, you would need to conduct an experiment to prove if such theory is, in fact, true. Whatever is used or performed during the experiment must then be documented in the report. This includes a general list of equipment or tools used, explanation of a procedure followed, information on the materials used, and reference to any issue encountered in the procedure.
Any methods or processes conducted to gather information about the subject matter should be written in this section.
The finding garnered from the investigation or experiment should be presented in this section. Apart from simple wording, you can also utilize any necessary diagrams, tables, or graphs showing data that support your claims. Make sure to exhibit this without any further comments. You may also check out consulting report examples.
The main body of the report allows you to discuss your material. The facts and evidences gathered during the initial stages of your research or investigation should be thoroughly analyzed and discussed with clear reference to the problem at hand. Make sure to arrange these points in a clear and logical manner for readers to comprehend. Use bullet points if necessary, especially when presenting a series of one-line details or steps. You might be interested in academic report examples.
Once everything has been covered, formulate your conclusion. In this section, you can highlight the most important points that have been made in the report or central issues or findings that need to be emphasized. Since this is the last part of your main content, avoid introducing new points or issues that might raise further questions that can no longer be addressed in the later parts of your document. You may also see examples of short report.
There are times when graphs, questionnaires, transcripts, and other detailed illustrations and documents may be too lengthy to publish in the main body of the report. But since these are likely to carry supporting information regarding your report, you can include them in your appendices. You may also like marketing report examples.
All published sources referred to in your report should be listed in this chapter. They must be arranged in alphabetical order by author, or whatever format preferred by your department.
There are instances when authors are given the opportunity to express their gratitude toward particular organizations or individuals who have assisted or provided them with information for the report. The content of this section will depend on your own preferences. You may also check out quality report examples.
Some readers may not be familiar with the terms, abbreviations, or acronyms used in the report. For this reason, it’s best to dedicate this section toward providing a brief explanation of each significant term.
Professional report writing is a task aimed at business professionals of all levels. Since written communication is an essential part of your job, specifically when dealing with clients, business associates, executives, and colleagues, learning how to write formal reports can help you perform your job effectively.
But first, you would need to go through a three-phase process to improve your skills in the craft:
Before you can put pen to paper, you must first gain an in-depth understanding of what the report is for. Make sure to understand and analyze your target audience, select an appropriate method for data gathering, and have a set of objectives for your report. You can also make use of a report outline to properly organize your major points in a logical manner.
The planning and preparing stage of report writing is usually the most crucial. Acting on impulse and without a stern direction can lead to chaotic outcomes. Apart from a poorly written output in terms of wording and structure, you may end up forgetting important points relevant to the problem or issue.
Once you begin drafting your report, be sure to follow the necessary structure. Since we’ve already discussed what to include in each chapter of your report, just remember to keep your discussions clear and to the point. Avoid including information that may not be related or completely relevant to your topic; otherwise, you may just confuse your readers with opposing statements. You may also see technical report examples.
Everything that was written on your outline must be transferred to your content in a logical sequence. It should also be expounded clearly enough for readers to understand its relevance to the topic.
Additionally, the summary of the report should be the last thing you write. It should provide a general overview of the report for an audience to grasp. And if your report exceeds the standard 10 pages, then it’s best to include a table of contents for guidance.
Reviewing and editing the report is the last, but not the least, important step in professional report writing.
When it comes to professional report writing, there is no room for errors. Check for spelling and grammar errors that may have been overlooked. You also need to assess whether the report meets the standardized requirements, and if there any areas of the document, such as the structure and layout, that may be improved for future reports.
Most writers even use a checklist to manage the overall quality of their report. After which, you can have a friend or colleague review the report for further assurance.
Writing a professional basic report is a daunting process that requires time, patience, and skills to accomplish effectively. This allows you to deliver relevant information about a subject matter in a clear and concise manner. With enough knowledge and practice to help improve your skills in the craft, you can create professional reports without a hitch!