Reports are a great way for organizations to track events and measure progress. The larger an organization the more reports are necessary to track operations of the various units and functions. Progressive organizations have moved away from writing paper reports and physical metrics to using virtual systems. This may be writing email reports or using tracking software to collect reports of daily, weekly and monthly operations.
As a member of a team or functional unit within an organization, you may be called upon to prepare a report for a number of reasons. Whether you are required to prepare a meeting report, progress report, daily, weekly or monthly operations reports – arm yourself with these tips for writing excellent email reports.
Guidelines for Writing Email Reports
Here are a couple of things you should consider when writing email reports.
Use the Subject line to Introduce Your Email Report
Make your email report submission convenient for your supervisor or management to assess. The email subject line should be used to provide a preview of the content of the email. This preview allows the recipient of your email to prioritize which emails to handle at various times.
Good subject lines will ensure your emails stand out among the numerous emails busy organizations exchange on a daily basis. A good subject line for an email report should include the name of the report and date of the report. Email reports with good subject lines are easy to remember and find for reference purposes. No matter how many emails your supervisor receives on a daily basis, a report specific subject line will ensure he is not looking for your email when it’s needed.
Develop a Format for Writing Your Email Report
Is there already a setout format for the report you have been asked to prepare? Is this a one-off report or a reoccurring report? These are important considerations when tasked to develop a report to be submitted by email. If a format already exists, use that format to ensure consistency and easy understanding of your report.
When there is no prescribed format, the frequency of the report will help you determine the most appropriate reporting format. While a simple email capturing all important details will work well for a one-off email report; reoccurring reports require more structure.
Determine the objective of your report by thinking of the information your supervisor or management wants to learn from your report. Then develop a format for your report by creating a document that runs through all relevant information needed by your supervisor/management to make informed operational decisions.
Keep email reports simple and pleasing to the recipient by using attachments to provide lengthy information or categorized information. Word documents and Excel sheets are excellent for providing large amounts of data in reports sent by email.
Focus on Relevant Details in Your Email Report
While the conversations had during a meeting may be interesting, the reader of your meeting report doesn’t want a verbatim recount. Remember to approach all reports with the objective of the report in mind. The receiver of a meeting report would be more interested in details such as the time and venue of the meeting, designation of the attendants, the aim of the meeting and key decisions made at the meeting.
Keep reports concise by summarizing opinions, discussions, and outcomes. Reports help organizational leaders and manager understand occurrences within the organization and make decisions without being physically present, therefore, ensure your report is focused on providing useful insight to the reader.
Proofread Email Reports before Sending Them Out
Always proofread email reports before sending them out. Ensure all spellings are correct and the sentences are easy to comprehend. Also, ensure that the language and tone of your email are professional and courteous. Avoid using text messaging abbreviations, such as IMO – In my opinion, when sending professional emails and reports.
If using attachments to provide additional information or present complex data, ensure you proof the attachment for mechanical and grammatical errors. Also, proof your subject line and recipient email address for errors before sending out your email.
Tips for Writing the Email Report
Once you understand the keys to writing excellent email reports, structure your email report into the following sections for improved readability and coherence
Begin your email with the appropriate salutation for the recipient based on your organizational culture. The introduction of your email should clearly introduce the report you are submitting. Below is a sample introduction for the daily report sent by the sales clerk of a cooking oil distributor.
Re: Daily Sales Report – Cooking Oil 10/11/2017
Good day Sir
Please see below the sales report of Friday, November 10, 2017.
The body of your email report must sufficiently address the purpose of your report by providing relevant information in a format that is easy to read and understand. Maintaining the example of the oil distributor, here is a sample body to report national sales volumes.
Re: October 2017 Oil Sales
I trust you are well. Here is the report of sales for the month of October 2017.
The following sales were generated in the month:
Canola Oil – 200
Olive Oil – 60
There were no returns in the month of October.
Writing Email Reports' Conclusion
The conclusion to your email report reinforces what you have stated in your email. Provide any other relevant information or next steps in your report conclusion.
Email reports are a stable means of communicating developments in most organizations, therefore, an understanding and development of proper email report writing skills will help you to stand out as a competent professional and valued team member. A proper understanding of the objective of each report you are required to write is the cornerstone to help you present useful and insightful reports.