Getting communication right in business report is essential if you want people to read them and more importantly act on any recommendations. To do this you will need to structure the content of your report in a logical and clear way if you are going to help the readers take in your message. If you structure a piece of writing well, you will find it easier to choose the words to express your ideas.
A report should be divided into sections and sub-sections, each of which should have a clear heading. If you structure a report well, it will not only help your readers find the information they need but it will also help you when you start writing.
How will it help your readers?
- Many readers may not want to read the whole report; they will want to read the parts that are relevant to them. A well structured report will help them to find information quickly.
- Your readers will want to concentrate on only one aspect at a time.
- Good headings will tell your readers about the subject in each section.
- The main headings and sub-headings will give your readers an overview of your plan.
How will it help you?
- A good structure will help you to decide where to put each fact or idea.
- It will help you to think clearly.
- You will be able to start writing at any point – you will not necessarily have to start at the beginning. If different people are contributing to the report, they will know what to cover.
Make sure the structure is complete. It must cover all the facts and ideas. Dustbins like ‘general’ or ‘other notes’ usually show the design is wrong.
Your headings need to be helpful and clear – they must tell the readers about the information in each section. One word headings are often vague and misleading. Don’t be afraid of using headings that are eight or nine words long – they will help you to be more certain of what to put in each section and will help your readers find the details they need.
Do not have too much material in each section or too many headings. Your readers will only be able to cope with a maximum of six key points. The more formal the report the more likely you are to use sub headings and numbering.
Although a report is normally written in the third person this should not be an excuse to turn verbs into nouns such as ‘taking into consideration’ Remember to avoid pompous language and long winded language. Your purpose here is to make the report very easy to read. Avoid jargon and clichés and wherever possible use visuals, graphs and illustrations.