Guide to Report Writing (Guide to Business Communication Series)

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9780130417718: Guide to Report Writing (Guide to Business Communication Series)

This concise, practical book is written for you if your professional success is linked to the quality of the reports you produce. You will learn how to...*Manage data, minimize discomfort, and master the report-writing process *Assure that your reports get read, understood, and acted on--rather than contributing to information overload *Develop a communication strategy that enables you to design reports to meet the needs of diverse readers and decision-makers *Write reports that are clear, high in skim-value, and rich in content-value *Follow a sound approach to report-writing so you will avoid procrastination and use your time productively *Allow your readers to find it a pleasure--rather than a struggle--to read your reports *Convey your ideas so clearly and persuasively that you gain recognition and influence within your organization Like all the books in the Prentice Hall Guides to Advanced Business Communications series, this book is ...*Brief: summarizes key ideas only *Practical: offers clear, straightforward tools you can use *Reader-friendly: provides easy-to-skim format

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

HOW THIS BOOK CAN HELP YOU

This book will help you to write user-friendly reports. If you are among those professionals who rely on reports for communicating—or receiving—important information, then this book can help you to:

  • Establish and maintain your credibility as a professional.
  • Understand what effective reports are and how to create them.
  • Plan and execute your projects so that you use your time wisely and efficiently.
  • Identify and gather the information you need, analyze it appropriately, and shape it so that you accomplish your project goals.
  • Design reports that are inviting, attractive, and readable.
  • Create reports that get read and understood—and that convey data, conclusions, and recommendations that get accepted and acted upon.

Once you understand the essential report features, as well as the key principles that underlie the preparation and writing of reports, you will be able to make informed choices that will enable you to create virtually any report: of any length, for any purposes, for any audiences, in any field. For as we hope to demonstrate in the pages that follow, a report (to paraphrase Gertrude Stein) is a report is a report. That is, although actual reports may differ in a variety of ways—among them, length, dress, type of information they contain, purpose, and more—in the essential elements they are similar.

If you would like information about other kinds of communication in a business or management setting, please see the other books in this Prentice Hall series in Advanced Communication. All of the books in this series are short, professional, and readable.

  • Guide to Electronic Communication by Kristen DeTienne (Prentice Hall, 2002)
  • Guide to Managerial Communication: Effective Business Writing and Speaking by Mary Munter (Prentice Hall, 2000)
  • Guide to Meetings by Mary Munter and Michael Netzley (Prentice Hall, 2002)
  • Guide to Presentations by Mary Munter and Lynn Russell (Prentice Hall, 2002)

WHO CAN USE THIS BOOK

If you are interested in the success of your organization and are committed to your own professional growth—as well as the professional growth of your colleagues—then you should find value in this book. You should find this book especially useful if you are an MBA-level student who writes reports for any of your courses, a business professional who writes reports, a manager or executive whose staff writes reports for you to read, or a consultant.

  • MBA students: This book is designed to be used as a core text in an MBA-level managerial communications course or as a supplementary text for virtually any MBA-level course that calls for students to create and deliver reports in any function area: finance, marketing, organizational behavior, operations management, technology, consulting, and more.
  • Business professionals: This book is designed to meet the needs of business professionals—in any field—whose success in the workplace depends, at least in part, on their ability to solve problems and communicate their solutions effectively.
  • Managers or executives: This book can help managers or executives who frequently read reports by enhancing their ability to guide fellow employees—subordinates and teammates—as they prepare reports.
  • Consultants: This book should deliver special value for those involved in consulting, whether they are internal or external consultants, working independently or for a large domestic or international consulting firm. The quality of the consulting solutions they deliver to their clients depends in no small part on the quality of reports with which they communicate those solutions.

WHY THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN

The thousands of participants in various professional report-writing courses and workshops we have taught—between the two of us, at Cornell University, University of Minnesota, Purdue University, Miami University, Iowa State University, Albion College, and Washington University's John M. Olin School of Business, as well as at dozens of companies and organizations—tell us they want a brief summary of report writing techniques. Such busy professionals have found other books on this subject too long or too remedial for their needs. That's why Prentice Hall is publishing this series, the Prentice Hall Guides to Advanced Communication—brief, practical, reader-friendly guides for people who communicate in professional contexts. (See the inside front cover of this book for more information on the series.)

  • Brief: The book summarizes key ideas only. Culling from thousands of pages of text and research, we have omitted bulky examples, cases, footnotes, exercises, and discussion questions.
  • Practical: This book offers clear, straightforward tools you can use. It includes only information you will find useful in a professional context.
  • Reader friendly: We have tried to provide an easy-to-skim format—using a direct, matter-of-fact, and nontheoretical tone.

HOW THIS BOOK IS ORGANIZED

This book is organized into five main sections.

Chapter 1 explains what makes reports effective—by identifying what reports are, how they are used, and what key virtues they share.

Chapter 2 explains how you can manage your report-writing process effectively-by describing what you should consider as you plan and execute your projects.

Chapter 3 explains the components of an effective report-by identifying the key elements to include.

Chapter 4 explains what you can do to design readable reports—by identifying how you can enhance the clarity and skim-value of your report.

And the appendix guides you through a formal report's front-end materials—by providing illustrations of a letter of transmittal, executive summary, title page, and table of contents.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We acknowledge the many people who helped us make this book possible.

M.N. I would like to thank Carolyn Boulger, Mary Munter, and JoAnn Syverson for all their help, guidance, and patience with this project. Their willingness to support, respond, and provide feedback was invaluable. I would also like to thank Craig and Mary for their time, energy, and commitment to this project.

C.S. If it is true that the key to growth entails surrounding yourself with people who will hold you to high standards, then I have been multiply blessed. First, I have been blessed with an immediate family and close friends who have long maintained high expectations. Second, I benefited from the example and encouragement of Leonora Woodman, under whose tutelage I first leaned to teach; and from Jeanne Halpern, who, as mentor to a generation of students at Purdue University, inspired us and helped us to raise our standards of professionalism. Third, I had the good fortune to work with the talented MBA students, faculty, and administration at Washington University's John M. Olin School of Business, 1995-1998, who persuaded me, despite my reluctance, to add to the world's bookshelves on managerial communication. And fourth, I found great pleasure in working with Michael and Mary, who provided the right blend of encouragement and intellectual stimulation to push our collective thinking and, I hope, capture this moment of truth.

Michael Netzley
Carlson School of Management
University of Minnesota

Craig Snow
School of Hotel Administration
Cornell University

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