Every good report needs to start with an outline. Use the outline below to set yourself up for success when putting all your information together for the final report.
At each point of the outline, use one or two sentences to describe what will go in there. It doesn’t need to say much, just an idea for you to follow later.
For example, in the Table of Contents section, simply add that you want it to only cover one page or slide, make a note if you’d like to add the pages for only the main sections or maybe also the subsections.
In the Appendices section, list all the links to the sources you used and add on as you do more research. Every source you reference in your report must be listed here.
The most important part of your outline is the Body section. In there, create an internal outline of sections and subsections that you can follow later when writing.
After you’ve drafted the outline, it’s time to put together all of the content into the report. The outline we provided above is the only report writing format you’ll ever need. You can add sections if needed but don’t take any away.
Let’s take a look at every section in detail.
Element #1: Title
The title of your report should be clear in its wording. It must say exactly what the report is about. Remember that this isn’t a novel. Include a subtitle if necessary, making sure the font size of each subtitle is smaller than the title.
In terms of design, your title can be designed as an inviting cover page. There needs to be a clear hierarchy in how the title looks.
Element #2: Table of Contents
Always leave the Table of Contents page until the end. You can’t write a table of contents if you don’t know all of your page numbers yet.
However, if your Body outline already has each of your section and subsection titles defined, you can add those to the contents and leave the numbering for later.
Element #3: Summary
Likewise, the summary of the report is best done after you’ve finished writing the report. You can draft a summary at the beginning to help you continue with the work, but you’ll definitely want to revisit it at the end.
A summary is a blurb of the entire report. It must include the purpose, the process and a snippet of the resolution.
Element #4: Introduction
In the introduction, state what the report is about and why it has been created. Depending on the length of your report, the introduction is a paragraph to an entire page long.
For example, one paragraph is enough for a social media report introduction while an entire page would be more suitable for an annual report.
Element #5: Body
The body of your report is where all the information is put together. Follow your initial outline to maintain consistent flow in the content creation. Write the body content as sections and subsections.
Furthermore, use bullet points and data visualization as visual cues. These will help your audience to better understand the content of your report.
Element #6: Conclusion
Close your report with a well-crafted conclusion. Formulate it as a brief summary of what was covered within the report, and be sure to include a mention to the recommendations section and the resources in the appendix.
Element #7: Recommendations
Craft the recommendations section as a set of actionable steps with smart goals associated along with possible solutions. This section is irrelevant for school reports or book reports, but is essential in a business setting.
Element #8: Appendices
This is the section where you list all your sources if it’s a research report. You should also add any links that are relevant to the report – or previous reports about the same topic.
A good rule of thumb when creating your appendices is to only add information that is relevant to the report or that you referenced when writing your report. Use reference annotations inside the report to link to the content in the appendix.
Should you need assistance in any of this process, don’t hesitate to give Guruweb a shout. There are also other reports which your business might find useful.