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Writing Short Reports

What makes a good report ?:

•Reports are essentially a management tool. Even the most capable managers rely on other

people to collect information for them.

•You may be surprised that a variety of documents qualify as reports.

•The word report covers everything from preprinted forms to brief, informal letters and

memos to three-volume manuscripts.

•The goal of developing a report is to make information as clear and convenient as possible.

•Good reports have three things in common

–The information is accurate.

–The content shows writer’s good judgment.

–The format, style, and organization respond to reader’s needs.


•The first thing a a business report must learn to do is to tell the truth.

•To ensure accuracy

–Check the facts

–Reduce distortion

Describe facts and Events in concrete terms:

•It’s better to say

–Sales have increased from Rs. 400,000 to Rs. 450,000 in two months

•Rather than

–Sales have sky rocketed.

Put the facts in perspective:

•If you tell your reader

–The value of stock has doubled in three weeks

•You are only giving a partial picture, they will have a much better understanding if you say

–The value of stock has doubled in three weeks rising from Rs. 2 to Rs. 4 per share on the

rumor of a potential merger.

Give plenty of evidence for your conclusions:

•Statements like

–We have to recognize the sales force or we are bound to loose market share

•May or may not be true. Readers have no way of knowing unless you provide sufficient

data to support your claim.

Present only objective evidence and verifiable conclusions:

•Try to avoid drawing conclusions from too less information.

•Also don’t assume that a preceding event is a cause of what follows.


–If the sales decreased after a new advertising agency was contracted, it doesn’t mean that

the agency is to blame. Other factors may have a role to play in this as well.

Keep your personal biases in check:

•Even if you have a personal bias in the subject of the report, try to keep your feelings from

influencing your choice of words.

•Such biases not only offend but also obscure the facts and provoke emotional responses.

Good judgment:

1.Getting the main idea at the beginning of the report.

2.Seeing the facts.

3.Receiving the whole story.

4.Reading language they can understand.

5.Learning something that will make their jobs easier.

Responsive format, style and organization:

•Before you write decide

–Whether to use a letter, memo, or manuscript format

–Whether to group your ideas one way or another

–Whether to employ or an informal style.

•When making decisions about the format, style, organization of a report, consider its






–Probable reception

What subject does the report cover ?:

•The subject of a business report affects its format and vocabulary.


–An audit report would contain a lot more numbers, often in the forms of tables.

Why is the report being prepared ?

•Informational reports focus on facts.

•Analysis reports include





Planning Short Reports:

•When planning short reports be sure to follow the report-writing customs your audience


•Following three elements influence length and format of your report



–Subject matter

You may perceive the report in one of the following formats:

•Preprinted form

–Basically for ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ reports, deal with routine information, often mainly



–For reports of five or fewer pages that are directed to outsiders. They follow the normal

letter format.


–The most common format for short informal reports within an organization. Memos have

four headings: To, From, Date and Subject.


–For a formal approach, manuscripts range from a few pages to several hundred pages.

Establishing a Basic Structure:

•Choice of a structure involves three decisions

–What to say?

–Direct or indirect?

–Topical or logical organization?

Key points to cover:

•Your report should answer audience’s key questions.

–What ideas would you include ?

•When deciding the content of your report the first step is to put yourself in the audience


–What major questions do you think your audience has about the subject ?

•Your objective is answer all those questions in the order that makes more sense.

Organizing Informational Memos and Reports:

•The purpose of informational report is to explain.

•When writing informational reports you do not have to worry too much about reader


•Make clarity the main objective of informational report.

•Some informational reports are organized according to instructions supplied by the person

requesting the information.

•Informational reports takes many forms forms. The examples that follow will give you an

idea of typical organization and tone.

Interim Progress Reports:

•Interim progress reports give the customer an idea of the work that has been completed to


•The style of such reports is more formal than internal reports.

•When writing about interim reports be honest about the problems as well as the


New Business Proposal to an Outside Client:

•Proposals to outside clients attempt to get products, plans, or projects accepted by outside

businesses or government clients.

•A simple formula followed by many professionals is

–here’s my problem

–here’s the solution

–here’s what it will cost

Developing Structural Class:

•Four tools are particularly essential for giving readers an overall structure of your document

and for keeping them on track when they read:

–the opening

–headings and lists

–smooth transitions

–the ending

The Opening:

•A good opening accomplishes at least three things:

–Introduces the subject of your report

–Indicates why the subject is important

–Gives the readers a preview of main ideas and the order in which they will be covered.


•Such phrases so as to continue the analysis, on the other hand, and additional concept are

another type of structural clue.

•Additional Details - moreover, furthermore, in addition, besides etc.

•Casual Relationship - therefore, because, accordingly, thus, hence etc

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