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Report Writing: Business Reports

Business Reports

Generally, business reports can be written to inform, solve a problem or make a proposal. They carry information and analyse it. Sometimes you can analyse applying a theoretical framework (e.g., SWOT, PESTLE, Porter's diamond etc.). Sometimes you have to devise your own analytical questions, breaking down the issue into its components, studying them closely, and seeing how they interact with (influence/ are influenced by) other components. 

Structure

The structure and conventions you should use in your report will be based on your department or subject field requirements. Therefore, it is always best to check your departmental guidelines or module/assignment instructions first. 

The following is a general structure for a typical business report:

 

  1. Title page

You should follow any guidelines specified by your module handbook or assignment brief in case these differ, however usually the title page will include the title of the report, your number, student ID and module details.

 

  1. Executive summary

It is often best to write this last as it is harder to summarise a piece of work that you have not written yet. An executive summary is a shorter replica of the entire report. Its length should be about 10% of the length of the report.

 

  1. Table of contents

Please follow any specific style or formatting requirements specified by the module handbook or assignment brief. The contents page contains a list of the different chapters or headings and sub-headings along with the page number so that each section can be easily located within the report. Keep in mind that whatever numbering system you decide to use for your headings, they need to remain clear and consistent throughout.

 

  1. Introduction

This is where you set the scene for your report. The introduction should clearly articulate the purpose and aim (and, possibly, objectives) of the report, along with providing the background context for the report's topic and area of research. A scientific report may have an hypothesis in addition or in stead of aims and objectives. It may also provide any definitions or explanations for the terms used in the report or theoretical underpinnings of the research so that the reader has a clear understanding of what the research is based upon. It may be useful to also indicate any limitations to the scope of the report and identify the parameters of the research.

 

  1. Discussion

This section is where the data gathered and your results are truly put to work. It is the main body of your report in which you should critically analyse what the results mean in relation to the aims and objectives (and/or, in scientific writing, hypotheses) put forth at the beginning of the report. You should follow a logical order, and can structure this section in sub-headings.

 

  1. Conclusion

The conclusion should not include any new material but instead show a summary of your main arguments and findings. It is a chance to remind the reader of the key points within your report, the significance of the findings and the most central issues or arguments raised from the research. The conclusion may also include recommendations for further research, or how the present research may be carried out more effectively in future.

 

  1. Recommendations

You can have a separate section on recommendations, presenting the action you recommend be taken, drawing from the conclusion. These actions should be concrete and specific.

 

  1. References

Similar to your essays, a report still requires a bibliography of all the published resources you have referenced within your report. Check your module handbook for the referencing style you should use as there are different styles depending on your degree. If it is the standard Westminster Harvard Referencing style, then follow these guidelines and remember to be consistent.

 

  1. Appendices

The appendices may include all the supporting evidence and material used for your research, such as interview transcripts, surveys, questionnaires, tables, graphs, or other charts and images that you may not wish to include in the main body of the report, but may be referred to throughout your discussion or results sections.

Writing a business report

Generally, business reports can be written to inform, solve a problem or make a proposal. They carry information and analyse it. Sometimes you can analyse applying a theoretical framework (e.g., SWOT, PESTLE, Porter's diamond etc.). Sometimes you have to devise your own analytical questions, breaking down the issue into its components, studying them closely, and seeing how they interact with (influence/ are influenced by) other components.