How to Write a Situation Report

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A situation report is exactly what the name implies: a report on a situation containing verified, factual information that gives a clear picture of the "who, what, where, when, why and how" of an incident or situation. Many organizations use situation reports to give superiors the input and information they require to make correct and appropriate decisions. Emergency management organizations, government agencies, armed services, businesses, law enforcement agencies, humanitarian nongovernmental organizations and diplomats all rely on situation reports.

Observe the situation as clearly as possible. If the event was a natural disaster, view the disaster area and note the impact on the land, infrastructure and population. A situation report must provide all the relevant facts to people who will base their decisions on those facts. Observe carefully. Conjecture and opinion do not belong in a situation report.

Talk to all the people involved from whom you need information. Each organization that requires or produces situation reports will likely list personnel who need to be contacted and debriefed. Take good notes during every conversation as you will include this data in the report.

Collect and gather data. The goal is to give the most comprehensive picture possible of an event and the results of that event. Note details about every aspect of the situation: what happened, to whom, details of time, date and location, impact on the infrastructure and how the local population is responding. Many organizations have a standard format for a situation report that requests certain types of information. If such a format exists, use it. It will make data collection faster and more precise.

Compose the report in logical order. Include all the relevant information. Use clear and concise vocabulary to describe events, avoiding adjectives and adverbs. Regular progress reports will likely follow the initial situation report, so you need only describe what is happening currently, not what might happen in the near future.

Include a key highlights or executive summary section at the beginning of the report, but only after all the data is gathered and put into logical order. Use facts and figures, avoiding supposition. The summary or highlights section needs to convey the most important information for busy superiors to read first.

Tips

  • Keep in mind the readers of the report and what they need to know about the situation.

References

Resources

About the Author

Patricia Neill began writing professionally in 2000, spending most of her career as managing editor of “Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly.” Neill published political satire at LewRockwell.com and other libertarian websites. She also has an essay in “National Identification Systems: Essays in Opposition." Neill holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Nazareth College of Rochester.

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