Letter and Report Writing Skills – What is the sequence of a report

by ltconsulting on October 3, 2011

Our letter writing course will allow delegates to gain useful letter writing tools, tips and techniques and also includes constructive letter and report templates. Delegates who have trained with us have effectively applied the skills gained from this course to their everyday workplace correspondence. This productive course will also demonstrate the particulars of writing effective emails, whilst improving punctuation and grammar.

All organisations need to convey a professional image in every way to stay ahead of the competition. It is paramount that all pieces of written documentation are faultless. As your professional reputation can be enhanced or ruined by your correspondence, it is essential that the style, content and message is concise, correct and appropriate.

The sequence of a report

All organisations need to convey a professional image in every way to stay ahead of the competition. It is paramount that all pieces of written documentation are faultless.

Reports must contain vital information that recommends action or allows the reader to make necessary decisions based on the information provided. When your report reaches a busy manager’s desk, your are competing with many other pieces of documentation and responsibilities that tie up the manager’s time and attention. Reports, therefore, need to be inviting and persuasive to allow your reader to read the report through to the end.

The introduction

Every report should have an introduction, which should normally include:

  1. A statement of the report’s purpose
  2.  Key background information
  3.  A brief outline of the contents
  4.  Definition of technical or specialist terms

The Main Body of the Report

Ideally, the main body of the report would be arranged to suit the specific need of the reader. However, it can help working with a standard design, and the following 9 point structure offers a good starting point.

  1.  Clarify the problem or situation. Briefly outline the nature of the situation which has prompted the need for the report.
  2.  Reveal the relevant facts. Display in an appropriate manner the facts which are essential for a complete understanding of the report.
  3.  Establish the root causes or key factors. Ensure that your report distinguishes between the ‘vital few’ and the ‘trivial many’: Streamline the information you are presenting.
  4.  Develop a variety of alternative solutions. Offer a range of possible solutions, after having established appropriate selection criteria.
  5.  Evaluate alternatives against selection criteria. Test each possible course of action against common criteria, to choose the most suitable to implement.
  6.  Conclusions and recommendations. Most reports will require the writer to come to some form of conclusion about an existing situation, or to recommend a suitable future course of action.
  7.  The recommendation should be very clearly and simply written, and should state not only what is to be done, but who should do it, when it should be taken and by whom. You may wish to present the recommendation in the form of an action plan.
  8.  Within each section the same logic and order should apply, so that a clear presentation will be made of the facts and their sources. At each stage these facts should be analysed and explained, so that all implications are clear to the reader.
  9.  By the end of the body of the report the reader should possess all the necessary information, and be able to understand all the alternatives which have been presented. Within this part of the report it might be appropriate to consider any wider implications which might have an impact on the implementation of the recommendations.

The Summary

We all recognise that we concentrate more at the start and end of any activity. So by providing a short, punchy summary of the key points, you keep your reader’s interest right up to the end.

Appendices

It may be desirable or necessary for the reader to have access to much of the background information used in the preparation of the report. This can best be achieved by assembling such information in appendices to the report.

Be careful about what to include in the main body, and what to make available in the appendices. If the information is essential for the report to achieve its objective, then the data should be in the main body.

If however the information is more of a background nature, and might distract the reader from the flow of the report, then it should be separated out and attached as an appendix.

Synopsis

There are many occasions when a synopsis is desirable, if the report is more than a few pages long, a brief summary of the main points will quickly enable a potential reader to grasp the key points. In some scientific or research circles a synopsis is mandatory.

A synopsis should include the following four points:

1. A brief statement of the report’s objective.

2. A summary of the discussion included in the main sections.

3. A summary of the alternative courses of action.

4. A resume of the conclusions and recommendations.

A good synopsis will interest the reader in the whole report and for this reason, it is normally placed right at the front of the report.

For General Reports

Typical structure template for writing a report:

  1.  Title, author, date.
  2.  Contents.
  3.  Introduction and Terms of Reference (or aims/scope for report).
  4.  Executive Summary or Synopsis (1 page maximum) containing main points of evidence, recommendations and outcomes.
  5.  Background/history/situation.
  6.  Implications/issues/opportunities/threats, with source-referenced facts and figures evidence.
  7.  Solution/action/decision options with implications/effects/results, including financials and parameters inputs and outputs.
  8.  Recommendations and actions with input and outcomes values and costs, and if necessary return on investment.
  9.  Appendices.
  10.  Optional Bibliography and Acknowledgements.

Map out your structure before you begin researching and writing your report.

Ensure the purpose, aims and the scope of the report are clearly explained in your terms of reference.

The executive summary should be very concise, summarising the main recommendations and findings. Provide interpretation of situations and options. Show the important hard facts and figures. Your recommendations should include implications, with values and costs where applicable. Unless yours is a highly complex study, limit the executive summary to less than one side of standard business paper.

The body of the report should be divided into logical sections. The content must be very concise. Use hard facts and figures, evidence and justification. Use efficient language – big reports with too many words are not impressive. The best reports are simple and quick to read because the writer has properly interpreted the data and developed viable recommendations.

Do not cram lots of detail, diagrams, figures, evidence, references etc., into the main body of the report. Index and attach these references as appendices at the end of the report.

Where you state figures or evidence you must always identify the source.

Show figures in columns. Try to support important figures with a graph.

If it’s appropriate to acknowledge contributors then do so in the introduction or a separate section at the end.

Discuss and agree the report specification with the person requesting it – if they aren’t sure themselves, then help them to define the criteria by asking helpful questions, such as:

  • Is there a written specification or ‘terms of reference’ for this report?
  • Where did the original request for this report come from and what do you think they expect and need?
  • Can we find out more about what is expected from this report?
  • How many words or pages?
  • Who is this report for and what will they use it for?
  • What format do you (or they) prefer?
  • Do you want recommendations and actions in the report? Or just a conclusion?
  • Do you want detail referenced and appended or available on request?
  • Is this report really truly necessary? – might there be a better quicker more effective way to give the person asking for it what they actually need, whatever that is?

Letter and Report writing course

Our letter and report writing course is tailored to the needs of delegates who already retain business writing skills and those who would like to gain further knowledge on:

  • how to write a good report
  • how to write effective letters
  • how to write professionally
  • how to write confidently
  • how to write a standard letter
  • how to write a formal report
  • how to write a complaint letter

Course Dates

  • August 22, 2017
  • September 26, 2017
  • October 24, 2017

Who will benefit from the course?

What are the best ways to produce effective letters and reports? This course is designed to lead to practical skills to enable delegates to be both competent and confident in their written communication. Our courses allow all staff to benefit from enhanced writing skills. The types of delegate we have trained previously are:

  • Directors and senior managers
  • Sales and fundraising staff
  • Local government employees
  • Managers, department heads, team leaders and supervisors
  • Technical and academic team members
  • Customer service staff

In-Company Courses

Total Success have developed a series of in-house training modules. These are designed so that an organisation can pick the training which is more applicable to its own needs and budget. Please call us to discuss your specific requirements

Total Success Training Packs

Why use a total success training pack

If you are looking to run your own training course but lack the materials and the time to develop a fully functional training seminar we produce a range of training materials and packs which will suit your requirements exactly. All of our packs and been written by our own training experts and we can guarantee that the training pack will satisfy your course requirements. Each pack will contain a full set of PowerPoint training slides, trainer’s notes, a course manual, and a full set of handouts and activities.

We have been running our courses since 1995 and have trained 1000’s of people via open courses and in-company seminars. We guarantee that the course you buy is the one we train. All courses are trainer and trainee friendly so you’ll be up and running quickly (depending on your training experience).

We know how difficult it is to choose amongst the many training materials available on line, that’s why we have 3 packages that will suit you needs. With our gold, silver and bronze packages you can choose the training format that’s right for you and your budget. Call us 0044 (0)208 269 1177 to discuss your requirements or email us info@totalsuccess.co.uk

Related information

Total success training also produced a number of newsletter webpages that carry great information on all our training topics.  Below you will find a selection of related newsletter pages. You can click on any of the links and they will give you stacks of really interesting information relating to this subject t. If you like the content of these pages you can subscribe to our newsletter page and we will send you a newsletter every month. we update our pages very regularly so will always be more great information each time you log onto our site.

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