How to Write a Comprehensive Report

by Sarah Kuta - Updated June 26, 2018
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A comprehensive report is a document that explores a topic or an idea in great detail. In business, comprehensive reports are often used to evaluate and discuss a company's financial situation. Comprehensive reports may be used for other purposes as well, such as summarizing a new business trend or describing a new target market. Learning exactly how to write a comprehensive report can be a useful business skill for employees at any level.

Before You Start Writing

Before you start writing your comprehensive report, gather all the relevant information, data, charts, tables and documents you'll need to reference as you write. You should create an outline, a writing tool that can help you organize your thoughts into a structured format. An outline typically consists of short sentences or phrases that can serve as starting points for the various sections of your report. Though these sections will vary depending on the type of report you're writing, they may include an executive summary, an introduction, a table of contents, several main body paragraphs, a conclusion, an appendix and a references section.

Once you have developed an outline for your report, it's helpful to start by writing the executive summary, which consists of several paragraphs that summarize the entire report. The executive summary should give the reader a preview of the comprehensive report that they are about to read. This section of the paper is often useful for busy executives who want to preview the report to get an understanding of what it’s about.

Writing the Report

Using your outline to guide you, begin by writing a first draft of the comprehensive report. Similar to an executive summary, the introduction tells readers what they are about to read and explains the main points that will be made in the report. After the introduction, add several paragraphs, or specific sections that address the key points of your report. At the end of the report, write a conclusion that summarizes the report. The conclusion should consolidate all the main points you made in the report. It may include your recommendations or opinions on the topic at hand.

Finally, be sure to list the source of any charts, tables and graphics you used in the report in the appendix and add your research sources to the references page. With your first draft complete, you can go back through the comprehensive report to make changes and additions as you see fit. You may end up with several drafts by the end of the writing process.

Throughout the writing process, it's important to keep your target audience in mind. The type of language you use will vary depending on who will be reading the comprehensive report. For instance, if you are writing for an expert in the field, you may include complex, industry-specific terms. But if you are writing for a layperson, avoid using jargon and confusing acronyms. In some instances, it may make sense to write a different comprehensive report for each group of stakeholders.

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After You Finish Writing

Once you have completed the writing process, it's important to proofread your work several times, making any corrections as necessary. Then, before you send the comprehensive report to its intended audience, consider asking a member of your company's communications department to proofread and edit the document. This step is crucial if the comprehensive report will be read by members of the public in the future.

Accuracy, proper grammar and spelling are also imperative if the report will be read by upper-level managers at your company. Presenting inaccurate information in a carelessly prepared document will reflect poorly on your abilities, hurting your chances of advancing in the organization.

About the Author

Sarah Kuta is an award-winning Colorado writer and editor.

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