'Tis the season! And not just for gift-giving and tasty food. The close of the year also brings monthly and year-end reports for work. Joy!
Report writing doesn't have to be a total lump of coal. Here are some quick tips to help you make the process easier and the end result more effective.
4 Tips for Writing Better Reports for Work
Report-writing isn't high on many people's lists of fun work tasks. Use this advice to write better report for your boss:
1. Focus on one or two key recipients.
Even if your report is going to a lot of people, there are probably only one or two decision-makers and influencers who need the information most. Focus on them as you write, choosing a tone that's appropriate for them, and ideas that you know will resonate to be your points of emphasis. Learn more about why voice matters and how to achieve the right tone.
2. Make a dashboard.
Capture data highlights in graphic form to illustrate the situation quickly and make it easy for readers to comprehend. There are tons of apps out there that can do this for you, or you can collaborate with a designer colleague. Skip the fancy effects and go for clarity and accuracy. Pro Tip: A bunch of random graphics may not send the right message. Winning data visualizations tell a story individually and on their own. See page 11 of this eBook we developed for First Republic Bank to get more tips for building a better dashboard. [DOWNLOAD]
3. Format logically.
In addition to focusing on the logic of the content, use formatting to guide the reader through the monthly or year-end report. Skillful use of subheads and sections makes it easy for busy readers to skim and scan to find the information most relevant to them. Lists and graphics also reduce eye fatigue from staring at tons of text. Don't use a lot of fonts. While they may be pretty to look at, they can be hard to comprehend. Learn more about flow.
4. Create a summary.
One you've written the report, create a short narrative that captures the key take-aways and a brief look at the hows and whys of them. You can include additional information about the highlights you visualized, too. The goal is to make sure that the most important stuff gets in here, in case your reader doesn't have time to consume the whole report. This goes at the top of the report, before or after the dashboard. Pro Tip: Think about the questions or objections you're likely to get from recipients and consider addressing those in the summary. Get more tips for writing summaries.
For more help on writing your year-end or monthly reports, try the Position-Rationale-Proof Strategy©. Get a detailed description of how to use it.
Using these techniques and strategies improves the quality of any report you have to produce for work.
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