If your writing is 'sticky' then at the very least, it keeps the audience reading.
Did it work? If you are still reading, then it did! To help you keep your readers engaged and entertained we've collated some easy steps to help improve your report writing.
10 easy steps to improve your report writing
1. Find a good role model or mentor
To be a good writer, you should surround yourself with good writing. Learn from the best and regularly read a good mix of writing in books, newspapers, trade magazines and online articles. Your colleagues' reports may also provide inspiration and creative muse and give you an idea of what's been done before.
2. Decide what you're going to say
Don't start writing too soon. Consider what you're going to say and why (your aim, purpose and objectives in writing). Identify who your typical reader is (e.g. novice or expert, what they need to get from your report, whether colleagues or outside your company, etc.). This information helps you pitch your writing at the right level.
3. Plan the structure of your report
Decide what heading and/or key sections to include. Use internal templates (if available), mind-mapping software, or document outline tools to plan the flow and structure.
4. Gather & sift any source information
Only use data, statistics and background information from reliable and established sources to maintain credibility. Sense check any data you use by checking for a second source for validation.
5. Respect intellectual property rights
Uphold the principles of good writing by respecting others' IP; acknowledge sources and references to improve credibility and allow reader follow-up. When quoting from a source, be mindful of any republication limitations.
6. Create a draft report
Don't expect to produce a masterpiece straight off. Most writing goes through a number of edits before final approval. It is a good opportunity to spot anything you may have missed too.
7. Engage readers by using writing techniques
Use real-world examples, anecdotes, and story-telling to bring your report to life. A picture really can be a thousand words. Sometimes your message is clearer and stronger when presented in visual form. So add data tables, charts and images to add interest and improve understanding.
8. Assess & review your draft
Once you have a draft, assess and review what you've written. Is it too long or too short? Are sections missing? Should you remove anything? Can you improve readability? Enlist the help of your peers to offer further insight and identify improvements.
9. Final proofing
Pay attention to detail. Focus on spelling, grammar, punctuation, format, spacing, professionalism, logic, look and feel. It's worth taking more time here so that your writing isn't remembered for all the wrong reasons.
10. Peer review & sign-off
Once your report is complete, it is worth getting a colleague to proof it. If they are happy, then it is time to get managerial approval before distribution.
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