Whatever your role in the company, you should know how to write a business data report.
Due to the development of information technology, written communication has become the most common form of business communication. This has increased the importance of business writing skills.
To excel in your career, improve your writing skills, and learn how to craft comprehensive business data reports from scratch. Here is a step-by-step guide for this purpose.
Define the purpose of the report
Before you start on your business data report, define the purpose of your writing. Think about how this report will be used and by whom. Also, understand why this document is important and what specific decisions it will affect (e.g., marketing decisions, investment decisions). This will give you an idea of how your report should look and what information to include.
Define the report writing procedure
Think about how you will write the report, where you will source the necessary data, then outline the research procedure to be followed. This will help to speed up further work and inform a more in-depth study.
Before writing the first section of your report, consider the following questions:
- What kind of information should I use?
- Where can I find the necessary data?
- What kind of articles or documents should I read for background information on my topic?
- Do I need to buy a market research report or similar documents to access the necessary data?
- Who can help me find the missing data?
- Which data sources are considered trustworthy?
To craft a compelling business report, use relevant data obtained from trustworthy sources. Map your research process in advance to elevate the quality of your report writing.
Research the topic
To write a great report, immerse yourself in quality research. First, read recently published articles and industry/company reports. Second, check updates on statistical sites like the Census Bureau or Bureau of Transportation. The more data you find, the more detailed your analysis can be. Research will likely take more time than report writing.
Know your target audience
Analyze the preferences of your target audience and adjust your writing style accordingly. Present your findings in a way that adds value to the reader, whether they are clients, investors, or outsiders. Decide to what extent industry-specific terms are appropriate. For instance, if you write a report for the marketing team, you can use marketing jargon – your readers will understand. But if your report is aimed at your clients, you might avoid marketing terms – your readers may not be as familiar with such words.
Write an outline
Begin your report with an outline. Put your ideas on paper and sort them in the right order. Decide how to best present data to make the right impression on your reader. After drafting your outline, you may find important data is missing. If so, continue your research and find new relevant information to add to your report.
Create a clear structure
A well-written report must have a clear, logical structure. When you present your findings, don’t jump from one statement to another – present general data first, and then add detail.
Here is a typical structure of a business data report:
- Title page
- Executive summary
- Table of contents
- The main body of the report
Write the body of the report first, the introduction and conclusion second, and the executive summary last. Present the results of your research in the most compelling way. It will take readers less time to analyze the content of your report.
Strive for clarity in writing
Readers are overloaded with information – they have hundreds of emails to process and many meetings to attend. For this reason, keep your writing simple and straightforward. Use simple words and avoid figurative expressions or metaphors. Include only relevant and important business data. If the information doesn’t add value, exclude it from your report.
Make your report easy to skim
A “Wall of text” will discourage your target audience from reading your report. To make your report more accessible for readers, you should do the following:
- Break up the text into short paragraphs
- Use bullet points where possible
- Add relevant headings and subheadings
- Keep the layout simple and uncluttered – set wide page margins
Follow these simple rules, and you will make your report skimmable and easy-to-read, taking your report readers less time to find information they value.
Create visuals to present your data
Include a visual representation of information to make it easier to identify patterns and trends. Present data in the form of charts, pie charts, graphs, and infographics. Create visuals using Google Charts, Infogram, ChartBlocks, or similar tools.
Make your report look visually appealing
A business data report is a formal document, so format it appropriately. Choose one or a maximum of two font styles. Make sure that chosen fonts are readable – not too big and not too small; comfortable for report users to read the text.
Revise your business document
Proofread the entire document, including the title page and table of contents, and edit if necessary. Make sure the final version of your document is free of typos, spelling mistakes, and other errors. Use an online grammar checker or get assistance from a professional editor. Ensure that your report is grammatically perfect. One small error may ruin the credibility of the entire document.
A well-written business report is a key to effective communication with investors, clients, and other stakeholders. By investing your time and efforts into report writing, you contribute to the success of your business.
Improve your writing skills today, and you will gain benefits in the long run.
Contributed by guest author Jessica Fender, who is a copywriter and blogger at GetGoodGrade with a background in marketing and sales. She enjoys sharing her experience with like-minded professionals who aim to provide customers with high-quality services.