Chapter 56. Professional Report
Business, Project, or Status Report
This introductory page offers a simple, brief summary. For more, go to "Basics." If you understand this type of paper already or want to explore it in
more depth, you might prefer to read "Advanced
Methods." All five web pages of this chapter are listed in the
right-hand column--simply click on the page you want to see.
professional business, project, or status report is
detailed, factual summary of a business or professional project or
activity. A "project report" usually is a summary of the overall
project once it is completed. A "status report" is a summary of
the current status of the project when it is not yet completed. Larger or
longer projects may require several status reports: for example, one per month,
quarterly, or biannually. In many workplaces, some kind of status
report is required every year. A status or project report is not an
evaluation of the quality of the work (though such evaluation sometimes is
placed in the very beginning and end), but rather, almost exclusively, a factual
statement of what has actually happened. A report is not a negative
critique of--or positive advertisement for--a project or activity, but rather a
descriptive disclosure of what actually has happened--of both positive
activities and those representing potential or actual problems.
Examples of status or project reports are
everywhere. They are perhaps the most common type of workplace writing
there is, with many variant forms. Many workplaces, for example, require
each of their department heads--and sometimes every employee--to file a summary
of activities or accomplishes for the year. Every government project,
large or small, federal, state, or local, requires a report of what has been
accomplished, and large federal projects involving many millions of dollars may
require a book-length report compiled by a team of professional writers (whose
only job is to write reports and proposals) every several months. All
legal processes require reports, as well: legal reports simply are the legal
descriptions of legal actions taken.
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Writer's Goal or Assignment
and project reports are needed because others
want to know what is happening. Reports are a quick, efficient way to
offer such information. In many situations, reports also are legal tools
that either satisfy legal requirements or help avoid lawsuits. For this
reason, it is important not only to provide accurate details, but also to offer
a sufficient number of them.
The goal of writing a
professonal report is, simply, to
describe what is happening or what has happened. To do so, you should
break the project activity into several parts or body sections: three to five is
common, but more sometimes may be needed. The parts or body sections vary,
depending on your workplace and project: for example, your report may be broken
down by steps, times, physical locations, individual coordinators of different
parts of it, types of activities, results, or by whatever other divisions are
required, useful, and comprehensive. Each section should be detailed and,
in many work situations, a good report uses lists, charts, illustrations, or
other graphic methods to better communicate simply, clearly, and
that help your
exactly what you
about: e.g., the
type of paper (a
covered by the
report and time
of last report
person in charge
(if not you),
and a sentence
outcomes and a
of how problems,
if any, are
and restate your
If you are
writing a status
report, you may
state when the
report will be
turned in. Many
about what you
must report, so
be sure to ask
for samples of
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Here is a typical structure or organization for a
business, project, or status report. More development of this structure is shown in the "Basics"
Organization of a Business, Project, or Status
PROJECT & STATUS
Summary of the Project--if Required)
Section 1: Step,
Time, Location, or Activity #1
Section 2: Step,
Time, Location, or Activity #2
Section 3: Step,
Time, Location, or Activity #3
Section 4, 5,
etc.: Step, Time, Location, or Activity #4, 5, etc.
(Separate Evaluation of Needs or Results, if
Bitson, A.J. Book. et al.
Jones, D. L. "Chart," et al.
Smith, M. S. "Diagram," et al.
Zamura, R.F. "Personal Interview," et al.
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A "focus" in writing helps you at any given moment
to concentrate on writing. Here are several helpful, important focuses
people use to develop a professional business, project, or status report.
If helpful, brainstorm a list of events, activities, people, finances,
materials, etc. to discuss. Write freely about each at will. Do
you have enough details or examples to make a complete picture of what your
readers need to see? Can you make notes of what you need to further
research? Are you seeing the subject as your readers will want you to?
What is the problem and solution this project represents? Will your
readers feel that you are aware of this problem and solution as you describe
the status of the project?
& SECOND DRAFTS:
Start with one or two methods that work best for you, but develop the
others in later drafts.
Free-write: write as much as you
can quickly on what you know or have collected about your subject or
Gather details: write descriptions
or a list of the proofs you have for your materials--facts in the form
of charts, lists, or diagrams; as quotations,
and/or from reports of people's experiences that can be validated
Write for your audience: visualize
it. What facts and/or ideas is it willing to consider, in what
style or tone, and with what kind of organizational presentation?
Organize: make an outline using the
above or whatever structure your instructor suggests.
if required, mix
your paper with the above methods to develop a first draft before, during,
or after your
research. Be sure to use proper citation and documentation for every
source, even for charts and diagrams, illustrations/images, and
TONE, and WRITER'S ROLE: Develop (in early or late drafts) a
professional style and tone of efficient, interested, reasoned, fair logic.
In your role as a writer, you should sound business like and positive, and
present potential or real problems constructively, discussing how they will
AUTHENTICITY: Be honest and provide as
much full disclosure as possible about potential problems and needs;
however, do not over-emphasize them nor discuss typical problems that are
easily resolved. It may be useful, even good, to mention at
least one or two minor difficulties and how they are resolved; this is
authentic in that it allows your readers to see that you have considered
problems rather than avoided them.
Otherwise, present your material
with the clear intent to inform fully, realistically, and logically.
Consider your audience's needs and interests in order to serve them
properly. In addition, if possible, develop an interest in the
project (if you have not already done so), such that it is a meaningful
event in the company to you, even as you maintain a
professional attitude about it.
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