A business report consists of an ordered concatenation of ideas that can be synthesized in three or four central points, where a business report is defended that is completely clear in the first reading of it. The structure must allow retaining the main points of the same in a quick reading, almost diagonally. And, if the extension of the report does not allow it, the executive summary formula must be chosen.
The most effective is the classic structure of all writing (introduction, node and outcome) in turn, crumbly in different steps. Therefore, select your ideas, the objective they pursue, assign the corresponding data (tables, graphs, boxes …) and start writing according to the defined structure.
How much to write?
There is no exact number of pages for each chapter or for the report. Each one contributes its own information and based on that, it must be written. The objective of being brief but explanatory must be constant.
In the reports, the importance range of the information is from least to greatest. You always start in a chronological and sequential order until you finish with spectacular results and present conclusions.
It reflects the reasons that led us to prepare this report. In short, it is about putting the reader in the background, providing the data, resources or previous methodologies that have influenced the topic to be treated. The relevant parts of the SWOT study (Weaknesses, Threats, Strengths and Opportunities) that were previously applied and that could be reviewed in this new report will also be highlighted.
In this section, we must include information about the method we have used or intend to use to address the topic proposed in that report. All the procedures that surround it are detailed, presenting them to the reader as suitable. It is also necessary to explain all the technical words used with parentheses and footers so that their meaning is clear to any reader profile.
They point out “what there is”, the positive or negative realities that have arisen as a result of the use of the proposed methodology and the exposed background. In this part, the graphs and tables can be very informative, but it is convenient to alternate them with text so as not to reload it with figures.
They mention the data or sources that could not be included or could not be consulted or contracted when writing it. These are the shortcomings of the solutions provided in this report.
It is one of the most illuminating parts of the report. The author will present the conclusions reached in order to modify the reality or the situation under analysis.
This section should be a useful tool for the company. Our vision of experts must be made clear by recommending guidelines and solutions so that they can be executed by those who take part. The author of the report addresses commitments resulting from his previous reflections and analyses.
In the annexes we should always have some quotes from secondary sources, contrasts with other data, comparisons with companies and reliable sources to reinforce the central thesis that will be expressed in the report’s node. In addition, the reader should be asked how to locate the original sources used in the report (documents or websites).
Word or PowerPoint
At the time of presenting the report, both formats can be complemented. Word creates documents designed to be read and PowerPoint allows you to produce reports designed to be presented, not read.
Therefore, in Word you can make a highly explanatory document loaded with arguments and defense of them and, also, an executive document in PowerPoint to be presented by the author or other addressees. It is convenient that those attending the meeting receive a copy of the report in digital format.
- Technicians: They are addressed to people with technical skills similar to those who write the report and speak to the reader as equals, using technicalities whose meaning should always be explained. This reader profile will be able to easily interpret certain information or data (tables, boxes, graphs …) that are contributed to the document.
- Divulgatives: They are aimed at a heterogeneous audience (of the same specialization or not as the author) to which we must inform in a massive way. The use of technicalities is less abundant. It is also possible to use them whenever they are explained. Being its informative purpose, we must reject complex or superfluous data that deviate from the specific objective of the report.
How to organize it
- Home: The title is the first element of attraction. Choose it informative, striking and suggestive, supported by an explanatory subtitle. Let them be imaginative. You can also include cover pages to separate different chapters. A good binding is essential. Details like adding the corporate logo and colour are often advisable.
- Index: It serves to number the contents of the report and its corresponding epigraphs. Then come the body of the report and the optional section of appendices duly paged. An index of tables and graphs can be added.
- Graphs, statistics, surveys … All the documents useful for understanding the report (surveys, questionnaires, photographs …) will have a place, especially at the end of the document, so as not to recharge it. They provide numerical information, summarize long paragraphs or show explanatory ideas of how ideas are linked.
- Aesthetic details: Use a font size that does not challenge the vision (Arias or Times in body 11 or 12), a comfortable line spacing (double advised for reports, versus single or 1.5 lines) and margins and spaces between loose paragraphs for Let the sight rest. Not recommended underlining and preferable bold, bullets and symbols to highlight data.