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What is a short report and how to write it?

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Short report presupposes writing fewer pages than for formal or technical one, but it still quite a challenging task to cope with. Therefore, let’s review what types of reports there are, how to write them, and what aspects to take into consideration when working on such a task.

Definition of a short report

A short report is a formal, concise document written for a particular purpose to inform a specific audience. Generally, it is a short, clear, and well-structured paper about a certain subject that has an impact on the lives of people that it’s written for. Such type of work is widely used in business, journalism, and science rather than as a university assignment.

Short report format

The great news about the short report writing format is that there are no specific rules for it. The main thing you should know is that short report writing is more focused and, therefore, broken into fewer sections.

It is very difficult to find an example of the outline for the given task as the structure depends on the purpose and topic. Therefore, it is better to organize each report individually, making it as brief and coherent as possible. You may still use the following short report outline and alter it accordingly for every occasion:

  • Summary (briefly overviews the research and includes basic information about it).
  • Background (shows the significance of the study and provides readers with more details).
  • Procedure (presents methods that have been used to conduct research).
  • Discussion (reviews and analyzes findings and shows limitations of an investigation).
  • Conclusion (summarizes key points and the main idea of the study).
  • Recommendations (provide guidance for further research and present writer's interpretation of a problem and its solution).

If you are assigned a short book report, this outline is not applicable to your paper. Such a structure is more applicable to business and scientific reports; however, it still may not fit some of them.

If you try to look up a short report template, you will see that every template looks differently. Some papers will include a title page with general information or attachments with tables, graphs, or sources. However, many parts like glossary or list of references are rarely presented. Therefore, you need to shape your paper according to the data you are including and the requirements of your company.

Tips from experts

Meet our advisors

Need a book report by tomorrow? What to do.

  • Understand the assignment.
  • Use SparkNotes. Find chapter summaries, character analysis, and quotes.
  • Check Amazon for book information.
  • Don’t plagiarize. Ever.

What should be included:

  • Introductory Paragraph. Title of book, author’s name, main idea, genre, publication date, number of pages, and publisher information.
  • Summary of the Book. Story’s overview. Time period, setting, plot, and main characters.
  • Characters’ Details. Main characters-major conflicts. What conflict exists throughout? Describe important minor characters.
  • Plot Details. Include story/plot twists. How the plot speeds up, what conflicts arise, how they’re resolved, and conclusion.
  • Evaluation and Conclusion. Your observations/opinions. Strong/weak points? Did the book sustain your interest?
  • Revise and edit. Get the quotes right. Clarify ambiguous statements. Format the paper according to directions.
Penny J. Larsen

College professor with 30 years of teaching experience

How to write a short report?

Throughout school and university years, students deal with writing papers of different kinds on a daily basis. However, the same paperwork remains when they graduate, taking other forms like writing short reports.

All companies and corporations have their own format and standards for documentation. Employees often come unprepared for writing such works as universities rarely focus on them enough. Despite the fact that long reports may be prepared only once or twice a year, it is important to learn how to write a short report as it is used more frequently.

Here are the best tips on short report writing:

  • The first question which comes to mind is how long is a short report. Although the length varies depending on the amount of information you want to convey, it usually takes one page (maximum two). However, the attachments may take several more pages.
  • Before getting to writing, you need to think about the purpose of your future paper, which, in most cases, depends on your job position. Short reports are solely informative but sometimes can ask or warn a certain person or group of people about specific things. If the purpose is clear for you, readers will understand it too and make appropriate conclusions.
  • It is essential to conduct small research before you start writing. During the research, do not forget to take notes and collect all the relevant data, which can be further used in your report.
  • Be objective and impartial. Avoid any bias in your report irrespective of its type and purpose.
  • Mind your language. Your report has to be written clearly and concisely.

It is always important to consider your audience when writing:

  • If you are preparing articles or news for journals and other periodicals, it is better to keep the language simple and, at the same time, professional to deliver the information accurately.
  • When your readers are specialists in the same field, you might want to use terms to present data more precisely. As short reports are more direct and addressed to the specific audience, you have an opportunity to focus your attention only on those things that will be interesting for people.

Types of short reports

There are several types of short reports. Let’s consider the main ones:

  • Business. Short reports are used more widely in business writing. They are considered as very functional documents for all companies, and they are way easier to write as there are thousands of helpful samples on the web that might fit your particular paper.
  • Technical. In technical writing, reports play a lot of different roles. They may present a new design or findings, inform the authority about the status of research, etc. The outline will differ from one case to another, so it is crucial to understand what kind of information you need to include.
  • Periodic. They can be daily, weekly, monthly, etc. It is used to track the amount of work done by the company’s employees as well as its quality.
  • Sales. There are two subtypes of sales reports: financial and managerial. Such documents help to create different plans and make various calculations.
  • Progress. It is written for people who need to estimate the amount of work done by you when it is hard to track it otherwise. In such a paper, you provide all the necessary details about your performance and the progress you have made along with some factual information such as dates, costs, etc.
  • Test. This is perhaps the most accurate and objective type of report. Here, you need to describe the test you have conducted, as well as any important details connected with it.
  • Incident. It includes describing the incident, defining its type, time, and place where it happened. There should also be some explanations of the events as well as recommendations.

Whatever the type you are working on, do not forget to create an outline before you start writing, jot down the most important information that needs to be included, and proofread the document before the submission. And, of course, make sure to keep it brief!

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