Quite a lot of times, we observe some common mistakes in report writing when we go through someone else’s report but very often lose track of them when we sit to write our own report.
Report writing is a skill which can be indoctrinated and learned through experience. These are the errors which probably we all know but they become inevitable since we cannot recall them at the right time when it is required the most.
In this article I shall try to pull the known facts from back of your mind, to your consciousness. I shall do this with help of a simple phrase: BELL your mind, a report without a FORMAL Introduction!
This phrase shall draw your attention towards letters in bold to avoid making common mistakes.
When I say BELL, I mean our mind should be alert to avoid the report from being:
The report should be written keeping the background of the target audience in mind. Abrupt deviations from the objective can make report lifeless to the target audience. There are instances where the flow of the topic or subsequent pages or slides is not in sync; this also makes report boring. The overall outline should be drawn in a way before hand so that all chips fit in well and moves towards the objective of the report writing.
Be cautious about spelling and grammatical errors. They are the two important focus points while writing a report. Wrong spelling and improper use of tense can cause severe damage to the overall value and impact of a report. A report with misspellings and mixed tenses gives an impression of an immature report writer. Any proper documentation requires correct and complete sentence with proper words and tenses.
In order to explain the subject, a writer sometimes uses complex long sentences with too many clauses or keeps the sentence incomplete. Sometime, as a result of this, the reader will either fail to identify the relevant points or not understand the subject at all. The language used in a report should be lucid.
While writing a report, a writer should also take care of the nonfigurative terminologies, idioms, abbreviations and technical words. At any given point of time this is should be kept in mind that report is to make viewer or reader comfortable with the findings rather to confuse the reader concerned.
The target audience will generally have essential understanding of the matter or have some basic understanding of the subject. In such cases it is not required for a writer to overemphasize a specific topic at length. The audiences would be more concerned with the facts and findings and they would look for data and analysis part of the report. Their focus will be more on the inferences, conclusions and on the probable solution suggested if any. A writer should keep a report topic, very specific, relevant and crisp.
In case the target audience is not from the same background then writer can briefly define the subject without too much emphasizing the subject. The writer can suggest references to different sources to interested readers for further reading. This will help not only to maintain correct length of the report but will also provide the right information to the interested audience.
Report writing is a serious and sincere piece of work, which is intended to give the reader a synopsis of huge ground work done beforehand by the writer. Hence, to maintain seriousness of the report it should be ‘FORMAL’.
Fancy background with multiple color text used for subject writing in different font sizes is not the way to attract the audience to read the report. This will have a negative effect on the report or the presentation. Text having different font size, style and too many colors nullifies the importance of the report by distracting the audience attention from main subject.
A report intended for the purpose of presentation can be prepared with animation and flash, though it should always be kept in mind that too much usage of the same should also be avoided. Usage of such effects should be limited only to the extent that, it adds value to the report and should help enhancing the overall impact of the report in the reader’s mind.
2. Objective Style
Objective Style should be used for report writing, where simple language should be used. It is also important to note that report writer should avoid using expressions which leave sentences from being non-confirmative with many probable answers. Expression like "may be”, "probably”," seems to be”, "likes to be" should be avoided. An expression like these reduces the vitality of the report and puts question on the writer’s findings.
Graphs, charts and tables in the report make it easy to the viewer for recollecting and reconnecting whenever required. That doesn’t mean that every data need to be represented in all the available formats. The writer needs to select the best representation which can explain the subject clearly without messing up the data. If a data is well represented by table then tabular format should be used rather than graph or charts and vice versa.
4. Multinational Culture
A good report must not incorporate any such word, phrase, idiom, vernacular or statistics which is no way connected to the report. It should not hurt any culture or community as a whole and should not start a controversial debate from your inputs. A report should be general and it should give data which are pertaining to the subject only.
A report is indeed an artist’s presentation of his/her work. It portrays the effort taken by writer to, present the topic after doing the full research on it. Therefore, report writing should be done in a tidy way so that it depicts the effort put in by the writer. It should be neat and legible for a reader.
6. Logical Analysis
Logical analysis shows how much work has been done to achieve the objective of the report. Based on the type of report, the contents of the logical analysis portion will vary. But a report which has no logical analysis will lack weight.
Initiation of every activity is preceded with an introduction. The same applies to reports as well. Introduction has its own importance. For a writer, it defines the purpose of reporting. From viewers’ point of view, it serves to explain the concept of the report. A report without introduction can be unsafe to read and work on, since intention of the report will not be clear at any given point of time.
Readers might face difficulty in correlating and lose interest to read the report. In due course of time writer will also be unsuccessful to explain the real findings of the subject in a concrete way. The introduction normally contains the objective of the report, problem definition, and the methods adopted to overcome the defined problem. The analysis process should be also defined in the objective. Report writing is all about practice and experience. With every report written, different errors are found and the learnings are incorporated for future. A sincere and dedicated effort from a report writer does make a good report which can be useful to the reader.
Chillibreeze's disclaimer: This is a contributed article and was published on Chillibreeze in March, 2010. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of Chillibreeze as a company. Chillibreeze has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. Please contact us to report any copyright issues related to this article. The relevance of the facts and figures cited (if any) could change after a period of time.
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—About our writer:
Ms.Purbasha Mukherjee is a graduate in Instrumentation and an MBA in Human Resource and is an HR manager for an MNC. She has worked for companies like Aris AG and Siemens. She has experience is article writing, report writing, different types of presentations, content writing and manual writing. She also likes creative writing. She has experience in writing job descriptions and job specifications for advertisements in newspapers, hoardings and websites. She is also a graduate in classical dance. She approaches her writing with a blend of knowledge in technology, management and art.
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