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PUTTING TOGETHER MEANINGFUL REPORTS

Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

Reports can be a vital way of recording certain events or findings so that others can read them, and as such it is essential that you create a good structure to work to if you want to write the best report you possibly can.

So what makes a report meaningful? How can you be sure you are writing something that will be worthwhile to other people, who may not know or be aware of any of the circumstances which have led to the report being written in the first place?

Meaningful reports can be categorised as those which take various types of data from several sources. The person writing the report then evaluates it all and relates it to others by writing a report which draws all the different aspects of the subject together in a way which can be easily understood by anyone who reads it.

This can obviously be quite a complex process, which is why it’s worth sketching out a rough plan before you start writing, in order to make the actual writing process easier.

First of all, ask yourself what the purpose of the report is. Do you need to come to some kind of conclusion, or are you simply relating a certain chain of events? If you are reviewing an event or occurrence then you will need to gather all the data you have and organise it into its proper order before you start writing. You may need to separate out the positive from the negative and make notes on their effect on the business as a whole, for example.

Brevity is essential when it comes to the writing process itself, and this is where your groundwork will come in handy, as you will have organised a structure to stick to already, and marshalled all the information that needs to be included in its proper place. A meaningful report is not a long report; rather it is a report which takes the most important facts from all the material you have available and uses them to get your point across.

Bear in mind that when you finish writing your report, you have not finished it completely as yet. Editing is just as important as the writing if you want to create a meaningful report which stands up well to scrutiny. You can often strike out many unnecessary words during the editing process, and make what you have written already far clearer for the reader to understand and digest.

Pay attention to your structure on the page as well. Breaking your report up into easy to read chunks with suitable headings helps people to navigate through the report and makes it easier for you to write a meaningful report too, since you can concentrate on keeping the essential information in each section, rather than wandering off the point.

Finally you should always scan through your report to ensure you have not written anything in a vague or misleading manner. The point of any kind of report is to convey information in a solid and well presented way, so be sure to check through it and revise it several times before finishing.

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