What Makes a Good Report? 3 Effective Reporting Writing Tips

Great reports grab the reader’s attention, clearly convey a message and lead to more informed decisions. They’re incredibly important in the public sector and sharpening your writing skills can significantly reduce the time it takes to produce a well-written report.

If you want to develop your skills when it comes to report writing or you want your team to improve, then we’ve included some helpful tips below.

  1. Define Objectives
  2. Structure for Success
  3. Tailor to Your Audience


1. Define Objectives

Writing a report is a useful opportunity to evaluate and document lessons learnt and contribute to your organisation’s knowledge base for future projects. First, take some time to think about the purpose of the report. Do you need to describe, explain, recommend or persuade? Having a clear purpose from the outset ensures you stay focused, making it easier to keep your reader engaged.

A challenge with report writing is trying to condense lengthy documents into short summaries while also having that information understood by readers with varying levels of knowledge.

This is a skill you can develop over time and a report writing training course can help kickstart that. A course also allows you to learn more about this important style of writing and how to master it.


2. Structure for Success

When writing reports, your job is to make it easy for the readers to find the information they want. The structure is undoubtedly the most important part. To write reports that deliver maximum impact, we recommend the following order of presentation.

  • Title or title page.
  • Contents list if the report is on the longer side.
  • An abstract for formal reports, such as scientific research. At its core, it’s a summary and shouldn’t be more than 120 words.
  • The introduction should be brief and answer any questions such as topic, the reasoning for the report, background and methodology.
  • Discussion is the main body of the report and should be clearly organised. Few readers will read every word of this section. So start with the most important part when writing each paragraph.
  • The summary and conclusions need to be brief. Sometimes you might have to combine the summary, conclusions and the recommendations and circulate them as a separate document. This is so people can get the information they need without having to read the whole report.
  • The appendix is for readers who need the materials to study the report in depth. Relevant charts, sources and tables should go in the discussion where readers can use them. But if they’d disrupt the flow of the report, you can put them here instead.

If you use clear headings and have a full contents list at the start of the report, you should find this is enough to show where each part begins, ends and to cross-refer if necessary.


3. Tailor to Your Audience

As with any writing in the public sector, you need to keep your audience in mind the entire time. You know your service area or department inside and out, but the reader may not. Always make sure you use simple language and explain complicated policies.

Active voice (where possible) rather than the passive can be incredibly captivating. Instead of ‘a decision has been taken to', write ‘we have decided to’. It’s clear, engaging and it’ll resonate with the reader so much more.

Writing in the public sector is a challenge, but one you can overcome through practice and exposure. This blog is a good place to start but a training course, webinar or event can develop your skills even further. Our guide is created with that in mind, so you can continue to learn and sharpen your public sector writing skills today.


Writing More Effective Content in the Public Sector Starts Here

Report writing is just one of the styles you’ll need to adapt your writing to. There’s also briefs, complaints, taking minutes and more. A lot is involved when it comes to writing content in the public sector and unfortunately, you can’t just write the same way for them all.

So, we’ve combined all of this useful information in one easy-to-access guide and added some extra tips for sharpening up your copy. To create engaging content in the public sector that resonates with your audience. Click below to get your free copy.

Writing Skills Guide