Are you new to business report writing, or feeling somewhat rusty? Business communication might be very different to the way in which you communicate in everyday life. Efficiency and clarity are really key in a business context. The audience for your report wants to extract the critical information from your document as quickly as possible. Here’s how to write a great business report that will let your key stakeholders do just that.

First things first…

Be sure to include the report title, your name, the date, and if the report might be changed later, the version number.

Business report Structure

The most important information in your report should come first. Write a brief introduction that clearly tells your audience what will be covered in the report. Next, include a summary of the key information from your document. For example, if your document includes detailed information about product sales for the month of December, your summary might include overall sales figures, the percentage of target reached, and a comparison to sales the previous December.

Think about the key information your readers will be searching for and include it in brief here. Save the detail for later in your report, using clear sub headings to make it easy to find information. Include a contents page in longer reports. If you are creating a report that will be repeated, such as a monthly sales report, keep to a standard structure to make it easy for your readers to compare and contrast between reports.

Once you have included all your report information, you will need a conclusion paragraph. This will be different from the summary you wrote earlier. In your conclusion, you may go beyond the bare facts and add context. What does the information in your report mean for the business? What should be done? If your report is an analysis of alternative options, which one will be most beneficial for the company, and why?

Writing style

Use short words and sentences and plain language. Your audience may be very well educated, but even so, they will find it easier to read quickly through your report if you minimise the use of complex language insofar as possible. Business specialisms can be very jargon-heavy, so you may not be able to follow this rule religiously, but try to keep the language of your report as simple as you can.

Pictures and charts

Visual information is much more accessible to our brains than long swathes of text or spreadsheets full of numbers. A picture can be worth a thousand words, provided that it clearly illustrates a key point. A picture of empty shelves, or a warehouse overflowing with unsold stock can communicate a problem much faster than a stock control spreadsheet.

A table full of data could be faster to read than a page of text. Consider using charts. Time is money in business communication, and misunderstandings can be costly. Help your audience get what they need from your document as quickly as possible.

So, follow these easy tips, and you’ll soon be a master of business communication, known for your clear and useful business reports. Using a clear structure, a simple writing style, visual information, and including the most important information first will have you off to a flying start.