Slides on Writing Effective Business Reports

Topics: Critical thinking, Reasoning, Writing Pages: 12 (1112 words) Published: April 27, 2014

Learning Skills Workshop

• Reviewing Learning Skills resources,

• Reviewing basic business report structure,
• Essays versus reports,

• The main sections of a business report,
• Presenting data: tables, figures & appendices.


Help Desk (12pm – 2pm weekdays)

Workshops for Undergraduates

• What is the difference between an essay and a
• Why are they different?

Essays vs. reports

Originated in academia
Purpose is to show full
understanding of a topic and
present an argument
Don’t usually have separate
sections or use headings
Don’t contain tables, charts,
figures and appendices
Don’t include recommendations

Originated in the workplace
Purpose is to summarise the key
details of a situation and analyse
the implications
Have headings for separate
sections that can be read
May contain tables, charts,
figures and appendices
Often contain recommendations


Basic business report structure


Cover Page
Title page

Assessment details, your name & student number
Title of report

Executive Summary

A summary of the entire report – not just the introduction. Usually 10% of the word count.

Table of Contents

If required, should be an automatic Table of Contents listing each section along with page numbers.

1. Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Aims
1.3 Scope

An outline of the report’s structure, often in three parts. For short reports, the three sections can be combined into one paragraph with just Introduction as a heading (10% of the word count).

2. Discussion (& Analysis)

Using the heading Discussion and / or Analysis is optional – use heading sand subheadings that identifies the main topic / topics in each section.

3. Conclusion
4. Recommendations

Summarises main points and concludes on what these main points may reveal. Recommendations, while optional, are suggestions as to what can be done with the results / conclusions found.

5. Reference List / Bibliography

List of sources referred to in text.

6. Appendices

A list of important items – often in table or diagram format. Must be labelled and numbered – and referred to by label and number in text.


The executive summary
1) Explains the purpose of the report,
2) Summarises the main points and analysis, and:
3) Encourages readers to implement the recommendations.
Executive summary = A brief summary of each section of the report: 1)

Introduce topic,
Summarise the research question(s),
Summarise main findings / analysis,
State conclusions,
State basic recommendations (can be point form).


Purpose: to orient reader to content and give context:
1) Background (gives some context)
2) Aims / Objectives or statement of purpose
(in other words: why this topic is being investigated)

3) Scope
(Why are these specific parts of this topic being covered?)

Note: begin page numbers


Report vs. essay introduction


This essay contrasts the benefits of rote learning
and critical thinking in the context of university
education. It argues that although rote learning is
important for passing exams in some subjects, the
development of critical thinking skills is far more
crucial in succeeding overall within the tertiary
education environment. Whereas rote learning
involves memorising information, the central
aspect of critical thinking is to ask questions and to
think independently. Critical thinking carries across
to all aspects of learning, including participating
actively in the classroom, selecting and reading
source material carefully, and constructing logical
arguments in written work. This essay focuses on
the importance of critical thinking for assessing the
validity and...

Bibliography: Qantas group (Time Magazine 2007). After the
failed bid, Qantas reviewed its fiscal approach
to create a ‘poison pill’ to deter any future buy
out attempts (Knibb 2007)
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