Report writing is an essential skill for professionals in almost every field. Each kind of report has its characteristics. An enquiry report or a survey report is essentially a fact-finding report and should bring out the facts clearly. A Directors’ Report, on the other hand, is the detailing of the developments or the progress relating to the business organization during a particular period. A committee report may not only bring out facts and figures, but also cover the alternative viewpoints expressed by the members and final recommendations. Notwithstanding these features specific to the reports, there are certain essential features of good business report writing:
- Issue in perspective: The first essential for any good report is to bring out the issue in its proper perspective emphasizing the pros and cons. Be it a progress report; a survey report, an analytical report or an enquiry report, the subject should be presented in an unbiased and objective manner. Both the positive and negative aspects of the issues studied should be covered in the report.
- Authoritative facts and figures: The report writer should ensure that the facts and figures quoted in the report are authentic and reliable. The data quoted in the report is likely to be made use of by several other individuals and agencies. When the data quoted is taken from secondary sources, care should be taken to see that the sources are reliable and cross-verified.
- Maintain a judicial approach: The report writer should keep to measurable facts and verifiable details. Impressionistic statements and inaccuracies will have to be avoided. A good report calls for an effective assessment based on authentic facts and figures. Human errors, biases and any kind of selective reporting have no place in report writing. Good reports are those where the report writer maintains non-partisan attitude.
- In-depth analysis: Any report that does not go into the details of the subject studied may turn out to be peripheral requiring additional information. The reporting authority or the report writer, as the case may be, should make it a point to meticulously go about collecting all related information for inclusion in the report.
- Alternative viewpoints: The purpose of a report is to get the facts in proper perspective. There should be an intention to get the inputs or views from different persons who are in a position to throw light on the subject or incident under study. Although the final recommendations may be based on a consensus or majority view, the fact that some other views were also expressed during the course of deliberations or enquiries should also be mentioned.
- Appropriate annexures: Most reports contain relevant annexures, which cover additional information which is pertinent to the matter dealt within the-body of the report. Such annexures normally include charts, graphs, relevant statistics, questionnaires and so on. Care should be taken to ensure that any such’ charts, maps and tables are relevant to the matter under study and enhance understanding.