Online Learning Blog

Get That Report Right

Published on 29th May 2015 by Diana Nadin

I think people worry more about having to write reports than any other form of business correspondence. And here are two of the most common problems that people encounter.

So if you’ve ever worried about getting down and actually starting to write a report or you’ve found it difficult to deal with the ‘conclusions’ here are my tips:

"When I have a report to write I can't help putting it off until the last minute – I am always reluctant to start."

This is a very common problem – one which many people share – and it doesn’t only apply to reports. My advice here is to use 'willpower'. Force yourself to set a day and a time when you’ll start writing the report (preferably allowing plenty of time before the report is due for completion). Ensure that you have no other small jobs to do which you can use as an excuse to avoid getting on with it. Then clear your mind before you start – it's a matter of discipline.

Also, you must remember that most people put off tasks which they dread. OLC’s Report Writing Course covers the subject in depth and by brushing up on your skills you’ll be more confident of your ability to write a report so there’ll be no reason for nervousness or delaying tactics.

Once your facts are assembled and you’ve planned the order get straight on with writing it. The main thing is to actually make a start – you can always revise it later to cut out padding and correct any grammatical errors.

Your first sentence is usually part of the Introduction; so tell the readers what they are going to read about or why the report is being written. You should already be confident of this information so take your pen (or whatever you use) and start to WRITE!

And here’s the second problem:

"I find the 'Conclusions' section very difficult to write – it often simply repeats my 'Findings' or anticipates my 'Recommendations'."

This is a very common problem and one to which there is no easy answer except reading other peoples' reports to see how they handle Conclusions. Also, you must practise. However, it might be helpful to bear in mind that nothing new should be introduced at this stage in a report. The conclusions should simply be an unbiased comment on what has gone before. They should unify the report by reminding the reader of its purpose, summing up the main points and then directing them forward to the recommendations.

Look upon your conclusions as either: a summing up of facts at the end of the report if no recommendations are required or a tool to help you formulate recommendations if they are needed.

Don’t forget, there’s nothing difficult about writing a report if you’ve done your research properly and know exactly why you are writing it. But you’ve got to get this latter point clear or you’ll be tempted to ‘waffle’ rather than writing a concise and useful report. And, as I said earlier, the best way to improve your skills – practice!