Key criteria for success in writing business documents include:
See below for advice for achieving the above criteria.
The readability of your document will improve if you:
Reports should be well organised in the way they present information. You should break the document into major sections that each have a specific purpose. Each section should have a heading and sub-headings can be used to further break up the text.
Example sections of a report include:
Take a look at business reports and you will see that information is presented in a variety of ways including tables, charts, diagrams and pictures as well as text. It really helps the reader's understanding if textual information is augmented with graphical information.
When you are adding graphical elements the should all be labelled e.g. Figure 1, Table 1, etc. Then you can refer to these graphical elements in the text more easily by adding "see Figure 1 on page 4" for example.
All the time you should critically review your report and judge whether what you have written makes good sense. This is especially important when you are discussing difficult concepts. A good practise is to get another person to read your report and comment on areas where there is:
One aspect of report writing that some people find easy while others seem to have little idea is creating a balance between white space and report contents. A page should not be tightly crammed and nor should there be acres of white space. Modern word processing software allows pictures and other graphical elements to be inserted into a page and text to "wrap around". Some tips for optimal space usage on a page include:
If you are providing your own opinions in your report, try to balance them by also adding in alternative points of view (other peoples opinions).
Avoid statements that begin with "People say..." or "Experts believe...". This lowers the credibility and value of your report, and conveys the possibility that you have conducted appropriate research. Your report should state which people or which experts (see plagiarism below)!
You should take care to avoid making simple errors in presenting figures e.g. saying 73% of people were not satisfied when you meant to say 37%.
You must, as a rule, properly acknowledge the sources of all your information. To use other peoples work without acknowledgment is called plagiarism.
The method by which you should acknowledge your sources is called referencing learn the Harvard Referencing system.
You will need to reference your sources briefly in the main body of the report and then more fully in a section called the Bibliography. This is mandatory! It is something you will need to learn.
It is also recommended that you take ownership of every page by adding your name as author in the footer of every page.
The standard of presentation of your document is a key criterion for success. The standard of presentation is improved when:
Use the spell checker but do not always accept the computers suggested spelling. Sometimes the computer will suggest a completely wrong word in a spelling check.