Inver Hills Community College


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Click on any  part or section below:

Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar

 Study Questions



Chapter 56. Professional Report

Introduction to a Professional
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. 



A professional business, project, or status report is a 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

Business, status, 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 obviously.   

In your introduction, provide details that help your readers locate exactly what you are talking about: e.g., the type of paper (a "report"), project name, current status (e.g., "finished," "40% completed," etc.), dates covered by the report and time of last report (or of proposal), the person in charge (if not you), and a sentence or two evaluating the current status (e.g., "The outcomes all have been positive.").  In your conclusion,  summarize the positive outcomes and a brief reminder of how problems, if any, are being resolved, and restate your overall evaluation of the project's current status.  If you are writing a status report, you may state when the next status report will be turned in. Many workplaces have much more detailed, specific requirements about what you must report, so be sure to ask your supervisor for samples of previous reports written for similar purposes.  


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Summary/Outline of the Visual Structure

Here is a typical structure or organization for a business, project, or status report.  More development of this structure is shown in the "Basics" section.

Organization of a Business, Project, or Status Report

Unique Title 




(A Brief 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 Required)


& OF


Bibliography [if Needed]

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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Focusing Methods

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.

SUBJECT: 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?  

FIRST & SECOND DRAFTS: Start with one or two methods that work best for you, but develop the others in later drafts.

  1. Free-write: write as much as you can quickly on what you know or have collected about your subject or its parts. 

  2. 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 independently.

  3. 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?

  4. Organize: make an outline using the structure above or whatever structure your instructor suggests.

  5. Research: if required, mix research of 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 personal-experience anecdotes.

STYLE, 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 be fixed.  

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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Chapter 56. Professional Report:




Samples (none)



Related Chapters/Pages:

Details & Images

Creating Websites

Leading Writing Groups



Links in Grammar Book

  16. Research Writing

  17. Citation & Documentation

  18. References & Resources

  19. Visual/Multimodal Design

  20. Major/Work Writing


Updated 1 Aug. 2013

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1st through 5th Editions:: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998;, 1998-2012.
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13.  Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted.
Permission is hereby granted for nonprofit educational copying and use without a written request.
Images courtesy of Barry's Clip Art, Clip Art Warehouse, The Clip Art Universe, Clipart Collection, MS Clip Art Gallery and Design Gallery Live, School Discovery, and Web Clip Art
Click here to contact the author: Richard Jewell.  Questions and suggestions are welcome.