Report Format: Elements And Example Report

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 12, 2021
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No matter what role, industry, or field you’re in, you’ll have to write a report at some point. Maybe you spearheaded a groundbreaking project, and you want to share your amazing success and learnings with your team, or perhaps you did some important research that would benefit your company to hear.

There are all kinds of situations where writing a report for work is needed, and all kinds of ways you can present your information.

Business reports are crucial to ensuring your valuable knowledge, information, and insights get shared with the right people. It’s not always possible to bring everyone into a room and have you present, but having a written report makes it easier to share your knowledge with everyone.

But just writing a report doesn’t always get your point across. Writing a thorough, clear, and engaging report is key to showing off your success. We’re here to help you write any kind of report you need.

Although different companies, departments, and information require slight tweaks to how you report, our guide will walk you through the basics so you can impress anyone who reads your reports.

What Is a Work Report?

The concept of a work report is simple – you’re presenting a document that shares information relevant to or part of your job. You’re most likely the expert or best authority on the topic you’re asked to discuss – that’s why you were tasked with the report.

You shouldn’t have to go out and learn a lot before you sit down to write your business report, but you do need to keep in mind who your audience is and what their background knowledge is.

Reports can take any number of forms, as long as they start as a written document. You can choose how you present your information or ideas, but you need to make sure whatever you write presents everything clearly.

Common reports people are asked to write for their jobs include memos, daily reports, sales analyses, meeting minutes, progress reports, annual reports, and compliance reports.

How to Write a Work Report

Depending on what information you’re sharing, you might need to make different embellishments when writing your report. Regardless of the final product, you can follow a few simple steps to start writing any type of report.

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These five steps will help you make sure your writing is effective and communicates your knowledge in the best way possible:

  1. Know your reader. The most important but often overlooked part of writing a report is making it relevant to your readers. Before you write anything down, think about who could be reading your report so you can present the information in the best way.

    If you know it’s only your manager who wants to read a report on your progress of a project they’re deeply involved in, you’ll write differently than if you need to share your latest sales insights with the whole sales team and executive board.

    Knowing how much background info to give, what technical parts to explain thoroughly, and how much jargon to include in your report is important to make it useful. You need to know your audience and anticipate their needs when reading your report.

  2. Determine your purpose. Every report has some kind of goal to achieve. Maybe you just need to update your supervisor on your work for the week, or you need to present your ideas on how to restructure the HR department.

    No matter your end goal, you need to make sure it’s clear before you set out to write your report. This will help you determine what information is important and relevant to the report, so you don’t overstuff it and overload your reader with too much extra background.

    Selecting the facts or ideas you share is key to providing a thorough report without diving too far into the weeds. Keeping your audience in mind is a great way to know what does and doesn’t need to be included.

  3. Make an outline. Keeping all of the different pieces of your business report clear can be hard, so help yourself out and create an outline. You should always have a few key elements, like a title page, a summary, a table of contents, a statement of purpose, the body of the report, and a conclusion.

    Structuring your work report ahead of writing is an excellent way to make sure you hit all of the points that you need to. It can also help you make sure your report flows well in a logical order.

  4. Keep it short. Your coworkers will thank you if your report is concise but thorough. There’s no need to get fancy and make your report longer than it needs to be.

    The odds are that your colleagues have other things to attend to, and reading your report isn’t at the top of their list, so keep it as short as you can without losing the necessary detail or background information.

    But, as you write, make sure you maintain a professional tone. This is, after all, a piece of professional writing, and your report should reflect that.

  5. Read through again. Once you have your report written, make sure you proofread it. Strong writers always take the time to edit their work, and going back again will allow you to check for grammar mistakes and make sure your writing is clear. You should take this chance to cut out any information that doesn’t need to be included or add clarification where your reader might have questions.

    The best thing you can do is finish your report, put it aside for at least a few hours, then go back and read it over with fresh eyes. Having a friend or coworker giving it a read before sharing it doesn’t hurt either.

Work Report Template

As we mentioned in the third step of the report writing process, your business report should follow a basic outline and flow of a title page, a summary, a table of contents, a statement of purpose, the body of the report, and a conclusion.

We’re going to give you a work report template so you can see it laid out visually and better understand the necessary components of a report.

You can always add more sections if you find it necessary, like graphs or a vocabulary appendix, but you should always have at least these six sections.

  • Title page. Your report’s first page should be a title page that includes the project name, your name, your position, the date, and the company name. This can help give context to your work and give you credit for preparing the report.

  • Summary/abstract. Giving your reader a quick summary gives them the context of your report and can help them refresh their memories after they’ve read it. You can just include a few sentences to share the big picture of your report in this section.

  • Table of contents. If you have a particularly long report for work, you should include a table of contents, so your readers don’t get lost. You can just outline the different sections of the body of your report so they can easily find the information they need when they go back to review it.

  • Statement of purpose. You need to give your report an intro that states why you’re writing this report, why it’s important, and any other introductory information that’s important. It can be a brief introduction, but you should give some context and information, so your reader knows what to expect.

  • Body. This will be the longest section of your report. You need to provide all of the information you wish to communicate in this part of the report and properly explain everything. Depending on what you need to share, this section can be a paragraph or pages long. Feel free to break up your body into more sections so that your reader can follow along better.

  • Conclusion. The conclusion should include any wrap-up information you want to include, like suggestions for the future, big takeaways, or summarizing your learnings. The conclusion shouldn’t just summarize what your body said, but talk about future steps or why your report is important.

Work Report Example

Here’s an example of a shorter report meant to update the recipient on the progress of the candidate search for an open position:

HR Update
December 20, 2020
Prepared by: Jane Smith, Hiring Director
XYZ Company

This report provides an update on the progress of filling the Communications Coordinator position here at XYZ Company in the Communications Department. We began the hiring process in September, posted our job description in mid-October, and began looking at candidates in early November. Please refer to the previous November report for more detail on the initial candidate screenings.

As it stands, we currently have six candidates in the second round of our interview process. Each of them passed their first-round interviews with Christine Johnson or me and impressed the hiring committee. We will wrap up second-round interviews with candidates before the end of the year.

We have been discussing benefits and pay to be allocated to the new employee within the HR department and the Accounting department. Since this is a part-time position, we are nailing down the finer details of which benefits packages we can offer the candidate. Accounting is helping us finalize a number based on the amount of work the Communications department expects this position to take on.

In order to complete this hiring process, we will need to cut one or two candidates after the second round interview, give the remaining ones an exercise to complete, and then narrow down to the top three candidates. Once we have ranked the top three candidates, we will offer the first choice candidate the position. If they don’t accept, we’ll move to candidate two.

We will also need to finalize the benefits package and pay with Accounting before we can offer any candidate the job. We expect to finalize this in the next few days, ahead of the completion of our second round interviews.

I expect that we will be able to offer our top choice candidate the position by the end of the first week in January. The holiday time off will slightly delay the process, but we’ll be ready to have someone join the team by the middle of January. This is slightly behind our initial schedule of a January 4th start date, but the Communications department has no issue with the delay.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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