REPORT WRITING GUIDE

Claire Lewin
The ability to write a Business Report is vital for all managers or business professionals. It is
expected that managers will be able to succinctly and accurately communicate findings, and the
comparisons, recommendations and conclusions based on those findings in a professional and
logical format. One of the goals of the Business Report assignment is to provide students with
the opportunity to learn and refine their report writing skills before they enter the business
environment. Therefore students are encouraged to reuest assistance in writing this assignment
from the teaching staff after they have made a genuine attempt to complete this task.
Reports may differ in structure dependant on the needs of the end!users of the report but as a
general guide the report structure below covers the primary areas that must be addressed.
"s these reports are developed in an academic environment it may be necessary to provide
additional documentation on your processes in developing the report. #here these may be
reuired is identified in italic and underlined text.
This is a general guide for the report and students are encouraged to discuss details and specific
reuirements for sub$ects with their lecturer or unit coordinator and to undertake appropriate
research to further their skills in this area.
General Points to Note:
Deadlines: Business deadlines are $ust that % deadlines % miss them you&re dead' If your boss
reuests that the report is on his(her desk at )am then *+am is not acceptable. This is the same
with business reports(assignments in the academic environment. If you ,throw something
together- the night before, it is identifiable as such and will be marked accordingly. .imilarly
reuests for extensions because of your workload, technical problems or lack of understanding is
not acceptable in the workplace nor is it so in the academic environment.
Accountability: If you are given a research(report assignment by your boss and you do not know
or understand all the aspects of it, your boss will expect you to find out how to do these things
without needing to hold your hand. This is also true in an academic assignment. If you do not
know how to write the report or undertake some of the research you are expected to find out for
yourself /at worst0 ask the tutor or lecturer where to find out how to do it1. Ignorance is not an
excuse. 23ou didn-t teach us that4 is no excuse % not in business and not at college(university.
Format: 5ake your report visually pleasing and easy to understand. 6se headings, sub
headings, section breaks, charts, tables, graphs and have plenty of white space. Reports should
always be typed and, unless reuested otherwise, bound. 7ach ma$or section should be on a new
page. "ccurate spelling, grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure and tenses are vital. 5any,
otherwise excellent, reports have not been read by the executives and managers for whom they
were written because failure in these areas above has indicated that 2the report is not professional
and therefore the contents will not be valuable4. 3ou will be marked according to your
professionalism.
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Presentation of content: 3our writing should be logical, clear, concise and use appropriate
language. 6se short clear statements % do not ,waffle-. .tatements, recommendations and
conclusions should be $ustified by the findings and the analysis of those findings. #hen making
recommendations you should refer back to the supporting findings. This is usually written in
brackets eg< /refer to pages =,>,) of the report1. This demonstrates that the recommendation is
linked to the findings and analysis. "void ambiguity. The goal of the report is not to bring
problems but to bring solutions. Be clear in achieving this goal.
Audience: It is important to identify your audience and to structure and write your report to meet
the needs of this audience. In the academic report writing you need to write the report for
managers or executives of the company you are researching while addressing, within the report
and the appendices, your skills of research, analysis and work methodologies. This dual audience
can create problems in writing reports and if you find difficulties you should discuss the
expectations of the report with your lecturer.
et!odolo"y: This section addresses how you undertook the research and analysis. 7specially
for academic environments you need to indicate how you gained the raw data<
?ield notes
Interviews
"rtefacts
Observation
@articipation
3ou also need to describe your processes of analysis of the data.
Referencin"< It is vital that all uotes and graphics from any source are cited correctly. ?ailure
to do this is plagiarism % theft of someone else-s work. The Aarvard style should be used unless
your lecturer specifies differently. It is your responsibility to research the Aarvard referencing
style. "s a rule, no more than *+ ! ;+B of the report should be uotes. 3ou may be able to boost
your word count or save yourself work by uoting large sections from textbooks, websites or
$ournals but your lecturer not only knows most of these works but also can identify that you are
not the author by the spelling, grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure and your marks will
reflect this. .imilarly employers can identify plagiarism /and the attitude of theft or laCiness that
it infers1.
Duoting from interviews or conversations undertaken during the research process are not counted
in the ;+B identified above. The person-s position or the statement ,field notes- and the date
should be noted afterwards in parentheses / 1. In!house documents included as examples or for
clarification /usually in the appendices1 should have the 8 /organisation1 and either ,used with
permission fromE..- or ,courtesy ofE.-
"gain Aarvard referencing identifies how to correctly reference these aspects of your report. The
6#. library site has links to Aarvard referencing style guides.
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#usiness Re$ort %tructure:
%ection: Descri$tion:
Title Page
The title of the report
#ho is presenting the work /authors1
Fate due(presented
#ho is to receive the report
Executive
Summary
This is a succinct summary of the report. It focuses on the findings,
recommendations and conclusions and gives the basis of your reasoned argument.
If the top executives only get time to read this page they will have the overview of
the whole report. This is the first page of the report but is the last page written.
Table of Contents:
This is a map to the report identifying the location of the various sections.
7lectronic copies should link the heading to the appropriate section of the
document using the 2Table of 9ontents4 tool.
Purpose of the
Report
#hat is the research uestion or the purpose of the reportG
#hat are the goals and ob$ectives of the reportG
Literature
Review
:iterature Review " short introduction to the concepts included
in the focus of the report. /e.g. if the report is on the Information .ystems of
business """ % this section would identify what an Information .ystem is.1
Methoology
5ethodology discusses how was the research undertaken.
#hat techniues were used to gather, process and analyse the data.
Research Site
#hat is the research site % an overview of the department, business or organisation
researched. This introduces the context of the research.
Research !inings
an "nalysis:
T!is is di&ided into ' sections: It is t!e main body of t!e re$ort(
!inings
*1 Identify, describe and give examples of the findings of the research.
;1 This should be in a logical flow dictated by the process of the research, business
operation or decision making processes
This section may include charts, graphs, and(or tables to provide explanation,
clarification or examples of findings.
"nalysis
*1 This is the reasoned argument of the meaning of the research in terms of
application. This includes discussion, analysis and comparisons of the findings
of the research.
;1 #here there are multiple options from which to make a choice the discussion
should compare and contrast the options to provide a basis for the final
decisions. This can include tables, charts, graphs to clarify discussion points.
H1 The discussion should follow a logical format, which provides a basis and
explains the rationale for the decisions and recommendations made.
Conclusion
The logical conclusions that can be drawn from the analysis of the findings. The
reasoned argument about the focus(ob$ectives of the report.

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Recommenations
The actions that should be taken based on the conclusions. This may also include
identification of areas and issues reuiring further research or investigation
#lossary of Terms
Fefine any terms that you may be using which may be unfamiliar to the readers.
/This may also be presented as a glossary of terms located in the "ppendices1
References $
%ibliography
*1 The list of all materials(resources used in researching and writing the report.
;1 References are works uoted or cited in the report.
H1 " Bibliography includes uoted and cited sources as well as the background
readings that provided information and understanding for the author of the
report.
I1 This may include #ebsites, textbooks, $ournals or any other published /or
unpublished1 material.
J1 Referencing should be in the )AR*ARD style
"ppenices
T!ere are ' ty$es of a$$endices you may use in t!e academic en&ironment( It
is advisable to have a cover page and a contents page for this section especially if
there are several appendices.
T!e +
st
ty$e of a$$endices are included for clarification and &alidation of your
findin"s and analysis ,it!in t!e business re$ort(
*1 This includes all the material that provides insight or clarification of items,
findings or issues discussed in the report.
;1 This may include in!house documentation or artefacts gathered during the
research process.
&t is important to be selective in what is inclue in the appenices
an only relevant information re'uire for clarification shoul be
inclue.
The (
n
type of appenices are inclue for valiation of your wor) in an
acaemic environment*
1) These may include source data spreadsheets for charts included in the report,
minutes of meetings, progress reports, correspondence and/or journals of work.
2) These items must also be relevant to the report and the work
involved.
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Recommended Readin"s:
Bryant, 5ary./;+++1 "cademic Report #riting Kuide<
http<((cadfl.uws.edu.au(management(essaywriting
7vans, Favid. /*))J1 ow to !rite a "etter Thesis or #eport. 5elbourne 6niversity @ress.
.ummers,L. and .mith, B. ;++;, $ommunications skills handbook% how to succeed in written and
oral communication, Lohn #iley and .ons
M.#, .chool of 7mployment Relations and #ork. /;+++1 &ssay !riting 'uide and #eport
!riting 'uide. 6niversity of #estern .ydney, 6niversity @ress.
The arvard (tyle of #eferencing% ) 'uide for (tudents. 6niversity of #estern .ydney :ibrary,
6niversity @ress.
6#.0 Noyager referencing site0
http<((library.uws.edu.au(online(citing.phtml
#iblio"ra$!y:
Bryant, 5ary./;+++1 "cademic Report #riting Kuide<
http<((cadfl.uws.edu.au(management(essaywriting
7vans, Favid. /*))J1 ow to !rite a "etter Thesis or #eport. 5elbourne 6niversity @ress.
8 9laire :ewin. ;++) ! J !