1. Executive Summary

The executive summary should include a summary of all of the key points, the idea is that an executive can read the summary and if it appears logical and inline with expectations the recommendations can be followed without the need to read further.  This is in fact the most important part of the report and should be written last. The executive summary should include a summary of all parts of the report including recommendations.

Writing Order: Written after the rest of the report (But before the contents page)

Email Tip:  If you are sending the report via email, include the executive summary in the main part of your Email, so that a busy executive doesn’t have to read an attachment to read the main points.

  1. Contents

The Contents of the report should be consistently laid out throughout the report and you should include both page numbers and title numbers.  In this example we look at the transport requirements for sales people

  1. Introduction / Terms of Reference

The introduction should say why the report is being written.  Reports are nearly always written to solve a business problem. Reports maybe commissioned because there is a crisis or they maybe routine.   Nearly all reports in some way answer the age-old business problem, how can we increase profits?

  1. Findings / Main Body

Sometimes reports don’t say Findings, but it is normally assumed that the main part of your report will be the information you have found.

This information is not always read by executives, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important, because without thorough research and analysis the author will not be able to come to effective conclusions and create recommendations.  Also if anything in the executive summary surprises the executive, then they will turn directly to the relevant part of the recommendations.

  1. Conclusions

The conclusions should summarize the Findings section, do not include diagrams or graphs in this area. This area should be short, clearly follow the order of the findings and lead naturally into the recommendations.

You should never include new information in the conclusions!

Writing Order: Written after the Findings

  1. Recommendations

All reports should include recommendations or at least suggestions. It is important to make sure that there is at least an indicator of what the Return on Investment would be.  It is always best if this can be directly linked, but may not always be possible.

Make sure that your recommendations clearly follow what is said in the conclusions

Tip: if you don’t have any ideas suggest a brainstorming meeting and invite the relevant people.