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How to Write Effective Analytical Reports - Tips and Checklist

Unlike reports that are written for information-sharing purposes, analytical reports typically include an analysis of alternatives and recommendations.Keep in mind that while reports share many features with other documents (such as memos and letters), they are usually meant to flow upward—from employees to management. By learning to write effective analytical reports, you can enhance your image with superiors and help your organization make wise decisions.

A decision you have to make as you prepare to write an analytical report is what writing pattern to follow. Analytical reports that follow the direct pattern put recommendations at the beginning, while analytical reports that follow the indirect pattern put recommendations at the end. If you know that the audience of your report is unfamiliar with the topic you are writing about, it is best to follow the indirect pattern.

In their textbook on business communication, Mary Ellen Guffey, Kathleen Rhodes, and Patricia Rogin provide a checklist for writing analytical reports (pp. 330-331). Their checklist provides a basis for the one that appears below but it has been significantly tailored for the purposes of CMIS 351.

•    Identify the purpose of the analytical report; in other words, explain why it is being written.
•    Preview the organization of the analytical report. Especially for longer reports, explain to the reader how the report is organized.
•    Summarize the recommendations for the reader. (This applies when you are using the direct pattern—that is, you know your audience is familiar with the topic your analytic report covers).

Presentation and Discussion of Alternatives
•    Discuss the pros and cons of the various alternatives you considered before settling on the recommendations you are making.
•    Organize the information you will rely upon to present both the alternatives you considered and the recommendation you ultimately settled on for logic and readability.
•    Supply proof to support the recommendations you ultimately decide to make in your analytical report. Such proof may include facts, statistics, expert opinion, or survey data.
•    Consider using headings, lists, tables, and graphics to highlight key information.

•    Make your recommendations. If there are several of them, use a list to present them. (This applies when you are using the indirect pattern because you know your audience is unfamiliar with the topic you are writing about).
•    Explain what action needs to be taken if the recommendations are accepted.

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