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Part VI: The Business Report > Some Do’s and Donts For Report Writing

Chapter 32. Some Do’s and Donts For Report Writing

  • Determine who will read and evaluate your proposal or report. What are his or her concerns? Tailor your words to specific needs and personalities.

  • Follow any existing guidelines (report requirements) to the letter.

  • Make an outline.

  • Use topic headings, bullets, numbers, and lists. Inset material freely.

  • Don’t clutter the text with unnecessary tables and graphs. Save those needed for an appendix.

  • Longer reports need an abstract (a one page summary) at the beginning.

  • Proposals need a cover letter. Keep it brief. Say why you are writing, what response you want and when you want it.

  • Be direct and specific, not vague and general. Back up any claims or assertions with facts and figures.

  • Don’t bury important information in footnotes.

  • Be honest about risks and costs. Being straight-forward increases your credibility and undercuts critics.

  • Be concise and to the point. Use short paragraphs, concise sentences, and familiar words. Avoid jargon.

  • Don’t lapse into the cold, stiff, impersonal prose so common in business writing. Switch passive sentences to active and weed out cliches.


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