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Report Writing for Business Studies
Author: ADMIN (ukstudent at gmail dot com)
Published: Sat, 23-Sep-2006
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Report Writing for Business Studies

From The University of Auckland Student Learning Centre Website, based on Manalo, E., Wong-Toi, G., & Trafford, J. (2002). The business of writing: Written communication skills for business students (2nd ed.). Auckland: Pearson Education.


'Goldstein, write me a report. And don't put in any of that hokey tokey!!'
- ASB Bank TV advertisement

Reports are a standard management communication tool, without which it would be impossible for an organisation to function effectively. Reports are also often required as course work in undergraduate papers, particularly in business. The following steps outline the process of business report writing and offer some useful tips along the way.

Setting the objective

A few minutes of sound structured thinking can save you hours of unproductive work. A clear objective in the form of a single sentence, which expresses exactly what you intend the report to achieve, will keep your mind focused and a touchstone against which you can measure your research. Think of your intended recipients when setting the objective; a report on the launch of a new product written for the Marketing Director would have a very different focus from that written for the Financial Controller. Ask yourself why the report is required, and what the recipients need to know about the proposal. Your objective should be specific and utterly clear in its emphasis. And having written your objective, you can then check with the person who requested the report that you have indeed outlined the requested information. Failure to achieve an objective can be the direct result of an unsatisfactory report in terms of structure, presentation and language.

Types of reports

There are basically two types of report, each requiring a different structure: Research reports and Information-Only reports.

A research report investigates a subject and reports on the findings. This might research a competitor's activities, consider options for a new computer system, or report on product development. The structure of a research report is the same as the structure used to write up scientific experiments.

The aim is the objective, and is expressed in a single sentence at the beginning.

The method explains how you researched your subject and the sources used.

The results present your findings in an objective and neutral fashion. Any unnecessary constructive detail should be included in an appendix.

The conclusion is where you express a subjective view drawn from the results of your research.

An information-only report is just that, it simply passes on information. It might be a memo, or the monthly budgets or management reports and updates. The structure of an information only report groups your organised information into a logical and clear sequence. This may be by date, turnover, location or order of importance. Occasionally there may no obvious sequence; you can't create logic where it simply doesn't exist!

Format and form

A report should include some or all of the following:
covering letter or memo
title page
executive summary
table of contents
introduction, method, discussion, conclusion, and/or recommendations
bibliography/references
appendices
glossary
index

For more detail regarding these, see 'Common Elements of a Report'. Please note that in some situations the method, results and discussion sections of a report may be replaced with alternative appropriately named sections according to the type of report that you are required to write, particularly if you are writing an information-only type report. Remember to consult your course book or assignment guidelines for more information regarding the specific report writing format that is required.

Writing style

Write for the reader not for yourself. A report may need to be particularly formal, or very informal according to the circumstances.
Keep your language simple, but avoid slang, jargon and clichйs.
Use gender-neutral language.
Use examples and analogies. Your reader can't interrupt or ask you to explain a point.
Use short sentences and paragraphs rather than long-winded constructions.
Choose your words with care. A misused word can cast doubt on your credibility.

Layout

Use plenty of headings and subheadings as signposts for your reader.
Use bullet points or numbers where possible, rather than continuous text.
Use relevant tables, figures and appendices to support your text, but remember to adequately refer to these in your text.

Useful references

Emerson, L.. (Ed.). (1995). Writing guidelines for business students. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Manalo, E., Wong-Toi, G., & Trafford, J. (2002). The business of writing: Written communication skills for business students (2nd ed.). Auckland: Pearson Education.


Copyright for this article belongs to The University of Auckland
Student Learning Centre

This document was re-printed with the kind permission of Dr Emmanuel Manalo. Original Source of the article is located here: http://www.slc.auckland.ac.nz/resources/for_undergraduates/report_writing_for_business.php



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