In business, some things are better understood written than spoken. Whether you’’re looking to raise money for a new project or explain a marketing strategy, a professional business report is necessary.
It needs to include everything expected from decision-makers, leaders, and stakeholders to be taken seriously. This information should be well-structured and well-formatted so the reporter can best drive their points across.
Let’s look at how to create professional business reports efficiently.
What is a business report?
Business report definition
A business report is any formal document to analyze a specific business issue. It’s a way of making a “business case” for various purposes in a company.
For instance, a report may be necessary when an organization is considering an acquisition, looking to introduce a new product, analyzing industry trends, or wants a round-up of weekly progress.
The scope of formal business reports is broad. However, here are the most common types:
objective, fact-based data highlighting something general or useful about a company.
used when a business needs to make a critically informed decision to fix a problem, e.g., understanding why sales have dropped in the last quarter.
a comprehensive study when a business is looking to introduce something new (like a product or service), participate in a potential merger, etc.
an overview of the development of a project, goal or the business overall.
analyzes whether a business follows particular standards, laws and regulations.
Issues of business reporting
With the amount of information that needs to be presented, reporters will inevitably face problems when writing a business report. These include:
Not having a well-defined reporting and formatting strategy
Not having a reporting template
Lack of simple navigation
Poor organization of information
Too little or too much data
What is a professional business report format?
Structure is vital, whether your findings need one or 100 pages. This is the purpose of a business report format. Here is a guide that most organizations follow:
An informative title should be present to describe the purposes of the report in a few words. It should also include the author’s name and date of publication.
This is generally a single page offering a concise overview of the report, condensing all the findings for the reader to understand its aims or objectives quickly. It sets the tone for the rest of the review.
Table of contents
This is necessary only if the report is long (over ten pages). The aim is to list each main section, making it easier to find.
Here, the reporter states the report’s purpose, noting various approaches, theories, frameworks, and sources used. The introduction can also have a list of terminology or jargon for the uninformed viewers.
Finally, this section should state any limitations or challenges in creating the report or solving the business case.
Methods and findings
This section is the most detailed look at the main findings of your business case. It consists of extensive data and factual evidence supporting your analysis. The reporter will outline their arguments and solutions’ strengths and weaknesses here.
Conclusions and recommendations
This part of the report discusses the takeaways of the main points discussed and propositions for moving forward.
References and appendices
Here, the reporter lists a bibliography of all the sources used to create the report.
How to make a good business report
Let’s look at the steps to create a business report efficiently.
Decide what information you want to include
This part understandably forms the bulk of your report. What you include here revolves around your aims or objectives. For example, are you seeking to increase sales? Are you looking at adding a new business unit?
As stated before, business reports aim to accomplish something different.
Make it well-structured
We’ve gone over a practical formatting guideline for your business report. Another element of maintaining structure is a good design. You want to convey your business case in the most thought-out and compelling manner possible.
Here are some tips for designing your report.
Define the layout and flow/create a proper background
Stay away from walls of text
Use size and position to show the hierarchy
Use callouts to highlight important information
Pay attention to color palette
Simplify complex data with visualizations
Use interactive elements
Do not set tables aside
Include an executive summary
Use a professional and concise tone of voice
Most professional business report examples use the same tone: assertive, respectful, positive, and accessible. Here are tips to keep in mind:
Write in an unbiased, objective voice
Follow your business style guide (if one is available)
Reduce terms like “seems,” “feels”, and other words that lack certainty
Use full names and titles when referring to individuals
Use formal English with standard spelling and punctuation
Always substantiate claims with data
Reference sources clearly and consistently
Use business report templates
It is time-consuming to create a template from scratch. Using a template not only saves time but makes reporting simpler. You can use ElegantDoc.com to create customizable and visually appealing reports in minutes.
Any type of writing must be examined once or twice before it’s given the green light. After the first draft, you should proofread your report (or get a professional to help). Aside from general spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, look out for:
Overly complex language
Large blocks of text that could be broken into neat paragraphs
Inaccurately presented data
Business reports are quite similar to academic writing regarding the number of details involved. But having a formatting structure and appealing design makes the process easier. Most importantly, the report’s purpose should be clearly expressed and understood by your intended audience.
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