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Characteristics of a Good Company Report

With all the ... tools that the IT industry has brought tothe business world, you would think that the level of ... would ... But ... has become alost art, espec

With all the wonderful tools that the IT industry has brought to
the business world, you would think that the level of written
communication would increase. But documentation has become a
lost art, especially when it comes to reporting to team members
and leaders. Unless your company has an outlined process with
strict reporting procedures, your productivity is probably not
as high as it could be. Why? Everything falls under one of two
reasons: Not knowing that you should have more reporting, or not
knowing how to create a good report. Submitting good reports
when will do a lot of great things for you and your team,
including the following: increasing the awareness of tasks,
making sure that important details are not missed, keeping your
boss informed to avoid misconceptions & increase confidence,
protecting you when thereís a discrepancy, and demonstrating
your leadership (in other words Ė it makes you look good!)

Whether you use a document or an e-mail message, a well
organized and timely report to your team members or your boss
will always be received with appreciated and will always
communicate to others that youíre serious about doing your job.
By using the guidelines below, youíll be on your way to
improving your image and your productivity (even if youíre
already doing company reports).

When To Create a Report Reports are excellent for recapping a
meeting or important conversation. Once the details are agreed
upon by all attending, it is much easier to move forward with
confidence. If youíre attending a meeting where youíre expected
to give a status of your activity, you should always have your
update written to make it easy for you to give your report and
for your audience to use as a reference during the meeting and
afterwards. Other appropriate moments for a good report are the
following: when delivering a project (or milestone), to
summarize analyses or research findings, or to assign or hand
over a task or project to someone else.

Donít Be Afraid to Take Notes There is nothing more frustrating
than trying to remember an important point that you doní have
written down. The best way to make sure that your report has all
of the important details is to make sure that you have all of
the details available to you. Taking meticulous notes from start
to finish (even if they donít seem important at the time) will
ensure that you get your report right the first time. It may
seem like a lot of work in the beginning, but as my mom always
said, "A stitch in time saves nine."

Make Your Heading the Eye Catcher When your audience looks at
your report, the emotion that you want them to have in the first
5 seconds is that your document is important and should be read.
To accomplish this task: 1) The heading should always be first;
2) The heading text should be bold, not italicized and have the
largest font size of any other text in your document; 3) Is is
preferred that the heading be center-aligned, having it
left-aligned is acceptable, but it should never be
right-aligned; and 4) the title heading should be simple, short
(no more than 6 words), but clear.

Donít Leave Out the Small Details Have you ever held a document
in your hand and wondered if it was the latest copy that
existed? Have you ever wrecked your brain to figure out what
date a meeting was held? These type of details are small, but
may become crucial well after youíve submitted the report. They
also make your report a complete document. Here are some other
small details to consider: Meeting Attendees List, Location,
Print Date & Time (always at the bottom), Filename (bottom),
Page Numbers (except on the first page), company logo (if itís
for a client), Minutes From Last Meeting (if itís for a meeting
that repeats on a recurring basis).

Organize Your Information into Sections Remember that youíre not
writing for entertainment, but to provide your workgroup or
company with information that they need to make business
decisions. A good report will make sure that this information is
easy to find, and thatís where sections come into play. Make
sure that each section has a subheading that is bold and/or
underlined; it can also have a slightly larger font size (maybe
2 pts larger). A good place to begin is by dividing your notes
into discussion topics; after that, you may want to add sections
like Objective, Purpose of the Meeting, Conclusion, Action
Items, or Next Steps.

Make It Look Good and Keep It That Way Youíve gone this far to
provide for your team, so why not go the extra mile to make sure
that your report doesnít get lost amongst other bland documents.
Consider the following techniques: 1) Do everything you can to
have the fewest amount of pages possible by slightly changing
margins, font sizes and even the font face; 2) You donít have to
use Times New Roman or ArialScience Articles, but make sure that the font is
clear and very readable - changing the font face on just the
headings is another way to give it a change of pace; 3) A simple
divider line after the heading or in your footer can bring
elagance to a document; 4) Take the extra time to set your copy
machine to make good copies - you donít want to spent time
making your document look good and have your copy machine ruin
it; and 5) Save your document with a filename that makes sense
and use this exact copy to make the report like (people respond
well to consistency) - learn how to make it into a template to
use for new documents later.

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Rafael Van Dyke is the site owner of BETTERDOCUMENTS.COM and the
editor of its articles & newsletters. Go to to subscribe to newsletters and

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