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How to write a report for your boss

Year-end. While most people are planning how to avoid gaining 10 pounds from all the holiday snacking and parties, you're consumed with that year-end report. Here are some tips for creating less arduous and more effective reports at the end of the year or any time!

3 Tips for Writing Reports for Work

Report Writing Tip #1: Create a logical framework

Before sitting down to whack out that report, doing a quick think-through first. The best tool for this is the What-Why-How Strategy™, which makes it faster and easier to build out a logical framework for your report, and to include the right details and support. Here's what it looks like:

Template for the What Why How Strategy

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Report Writing Tip #2: Create the right flow

If your report has to chronicle a series of events or a process, try the Transition-Action-Details Strategy™ to sketch out the logic or flow before you start writing. Bonus: Since a logical flow from idea to idea is critical for any successful document, the T-A-D is a good revision tool, too. Here's what it looks like:

An annotated Transition-Action-Details Strategy

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Again, start by describing the audience and the writer's persona to set the right tone. Fill in the first and last actions, then take as many middle rows as you need to hit the salient points. I love using this to make sure I've got steps or events in the correct order before I invest time writing everything out. It's also helpful to show this run-down to somebody else to make sure it makes sense.  When you're ready to draft, just work across the rows to create sentences, paragraphs or sections.

Report Writing Tip #3: Draft fast, revise slow

It's tempting when our backs are against the wall to skip steps in order to meet a deadline. How often does that work for you? Yeah, me neither. That's why I take 5 or 10 minutes to use these pre-writing strategies so I think in a faster format that's easily translated into my report. That leaves me time to revise. Revision is where we make writing better (editing, your last step, is where you make things like spelling, punctuation, usage and grammar correct). I've compiled a handful of quick and effective revision strategies for better writing. Super-pressed for time? Just do this: Do a quick word count of your whole report and figure out 15% of that total. Read your report with an eye toward chopping that number of words from your total. You'll be surprised how many unnecessary qualifiers, introductory phrases and other superfluous verbage you've amassed and how easy it is to delete without disemboweling your report. In fact, skillful pruning distills your information, giving it more impact. Yay!

Use this information to make business report-writing less painful and more impactful. Good luck.

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