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50 years of success - Established 1974

50 Years of Success
Established in 1974

"Helping you gain
.control of your career"

What is a Report?


First, let’s look at the definition of a report. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a report is “a statement of the results of an investigation or of any matter on which definite information is required.” and, importantly, it is designed to help others. It is likely that you are very familiar with the most commonly produced reports i.e. those that appear in newspapers detailing what has happened that day, but most people don’t even recognise them as reports. And, if you have ever told a friend about a recent night out, you’ve also given a verbal report.

Once you understand what a report is, it’s easy to see that they are not just for high-flying executives. In reality, anyone, in any profession may need to write one. Here’s an example: you work in a shop and your employer wants to find out the split between male and female customers visiting the premises. He gives this task to you and, after gathering the required data, you need a way to organise and present it in a logical manner – a report fits the bill perfectly.

What kinds of Report are there?

There are lots of different kinds of report, such as:

routine – occurring on a regular basis

special – those that are required to cover a specific subject or task

technical – these cover complex technical issues

And, which report you choose to complete will be determined by the subject you are writing about. All reports should be presented in a professional manner making the information easy to read and absorb.

As you can see, reports are useful in all work environments, but the ones we are most concerned with are those that are used for business.

What is Contained in a Business Report?

This will change depending on what the report is about and whether your company has a preferred format or not. The sections given below are standard practice for writing business reports, but you should always check with the person you are creating the report for, as they may have a specific format they’d like you to follow. Your report should contain:

  • title page – the title and date of the report, and the author’s name can also be put here
  • circulation list – who will receive the report
  • notes and acknowledgements – for example, who provided funding for the report and, if the authors name is not on the title page, it will appear here
  • table of contents – what is contained in the report
  • list of illustrations – simple list of titles and page numbers
  • abstract/summary – short paragraph detailing in brief what is in the report
  • introduction – the terms and scope of the report
  • body of report – findings and facts uncovered by the report are listed here
  • conclusions – draw the information uncovered in the report together
  • recommendations – this is what the report has been building up to and is the most important part for the reader i.e. what does the report recommend
  • appendices – any additional information, such as tables, maps, results, photographs should be included here
  • bibliography and recommended reading – details of the publications you referred to or recommend for reading
  • glossary – explanations of any technical terms used in the report
  • references – full details of sources that have has been referenced in the report
  • index – enables reader to find the part of the report they require; only necessary if the report is long


Of course, some of these sections might not apply to your report and you should delete them as appropriate. Likewise, depending on what kind of report you are producing, you may be expected to include a section on the methodology you used to gather your data.

If you think you’d like to find out more about Report Writing, Business Training can help. Our course will show you how to become proficient at writing reports for business and study. To find out more, request a prospectus for our Report Writing course.