How to Structure a Business Report
  • 5-minute read
  • 14th March 2019

How to Structure a Business Report

The content of a business report will depend on what you are writing about. Even the writing style may depend on who you are writing for (although clear, concise and formal is usually best). However, there is a general structure that most business reports follow. In this post, then, we’ll look at how to structure a business report for maximum clarity and professionalism.

1. Title Page

Every business report should feature a title page. The title itself should clearly set out what the report is about. Typically, you should also include your name and the date of the report.

2. Summary

Most business reports begin with a summary of its key points. Try to include:

  • A brief description of what the report is about
  • How the report was completed (e.g., data collection methods)
  • The main findings from the research
  • Key conclusions and recommendations

A paragraph or two should suffice for this in shorter business reports. However, for longer or more complex reports, you may want to include a full executive summary.

3. Table of Contents

Short business reports may not need a table of contents, especially if they include a summary. But longer reports should set out the title of each section and the structure of the report. Make sure the headings here match those used in the main text. You may also want to number the sections.

4. Introduction

The introduction is the first part of the report proper. Use it to set out the brief you received when you were asked to compile the report. This will frame the rest of the report by providing:

  • Background information (e.g., business history or market information)
  • The purpose of the report (i.e., what you set out to achieve)
  • Its scope (i.e., what the report will cover and what it will ignore)

These are known as the “terms of reference” for the business report.

5. Methods and Findings

If you are conducting original research, include a section about your methods. This may be as simple as setting out the sources you are using and why you chose them. But it could also include how you have collected and analyzed the data used to draw your conclusions.

After this, you will need to explain your findings. This section will present the results of your research clearly and concisely, making sure to cover all the main points set out in the brief.

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One tip here is to break the findings down into subsections, using headings to guide the reader through your data. Using charts and illustrations, meanwhile, can help get information across visually, but make sure to label them clearly so the reader knows how they relate to the text.

6. Conclusions and Recommendations

The last main section of your report will cover conclusions and recommendations. The conclusion section should summarize what you have learned from the report. If you have been asked to do so, you should also recommend potential courses of action based on your conclusions.

If you are not sure what to suggest here, think back to the objectives set out in your brief.

7. References

If you have used any third-party sources while writing your report, list them in a bibliography after the main report. This could include other business documents, academic articles, or even news reports. The key is to show what you have based your findings and conclusions upon.

8. Appendices (If Applicable)

Finally, you may have gathered extra documentation during your research, such as interview transcripts, marketing material, or financial data. Including this in the main report would make it too long and unfocused, but you can add it to an appendix (or multiple appendices) at the end of the document. It will then be available should your reader need it.

Summary: How to Structure a Business Report

If you are writing a business report, aim to structure it as follows:

  • Title Page – Include a clear, informative title, your name, and the date.
  • Summary – A brief summary of what the report is about, the data collection methods used, the findings of the report, and any recommendations you want to make.
  • Table of Contents – For longer reports, include a table of contents.
  • Introduction –Set out the brief you were given for the report.
  • Methods and Findings – A description of any methods of data collection and analysis used while composing the report, as well as your findings.
  • Conclusions and Recommendations – Any conclusions reached while writing the report, plus recommendations for what to do next (if required).
  • References – Sources used in your report listed in a bibliography.
  • Appendices – If you have supporting material (e.g., interview transcripts, raw data), add it to an appendix at the end of the document.

Don’t forget, too, that a business report should be clear, concise, and formal. And if you would like help making sure that your business writing is easy to read and error free, just let us know.

Comments (5)
joann
22nd January 2021 at 09:20
Thank you soo much.
Niranjan Fernando
28th January 2021 at 18:05
I am preparing to write a business research report for an academic assignment. A well-described structure was given to me. However, I wanted an independent perspective to ensure the format was good. This article was spot on. It corroborated what was given to me. It also gave me a clearer perspective how I must proceed. Thank you!
    Proofed
    29th January 2021 at 10:40
    Glad to help! Let us know if you'd like anyone to proofread your report when you've written it.
Nancy Kruivitsky
3rd June 2021 at 15:53
Hi, I would like to know what your recommendation is for the page numbering of this type of document.
    Proofed
    3rd June 2021 at 17:26
    Hi, Nancy. Can you be more specific at all? We'd suggest adding page numbers if it will help people find specific information in a document (especially a document more than a few pages long), or if the document is likely to be printed (and thus there's a chance of pages getting out of order). But there aren't any specific requirements for numbering pages in a business report unless you're following a specific style guide. Thus, you can use roman or arabic numerals, position them in the header or footer, etc., as you so desire.

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