How to Write a Project Report

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A young man sits down at his desk with his laptop and his note pad to begin writing his project report.
A young man sits down at his desk with his laptop and his note pad to begin writing his project report. (Image: BartekSzewczyk/iStock/Getty Images)

Writing a project report can be a daunting task if you don’t start with an organizational plan. Project reports commonly contain the same basic elements that provide readers with information regarding the project’s goals, plan, budget and outcomes. Using a few basic report-writing techniques, you can create an effective project document that shows your peers you’re organized and able to deliver important information.

Determine what type of project report you will be writing. Common project reports include proposals, scope of work recommendations, status updates, variance analyses and final reviews and recommendations. This will help you deliver the exact information your team members, supervisor or other stakeholders want.

Write an outline for your report. Include a cover page, contents page, executive summary, main body and appendix. Decide which categories of information you will address. Depending on the type of report you’re writing, these can include goals, project methodology, staff, resources needed, duration, success benchmarks, budget, variances, deliverables, deadlines, outcomes and recommendations.

Gather the information necessary for completing each section. This might require conducting interviews with people requesting the project, staff members working on the project and stakeholders who are the target of the project, such as customers, internal employees or vendors and suppliers. Get historical data, such as previous sales volumes, budgets, participation levels and demographic data.

Write the first draft of the executive summary, which is a brief overview of the report. This should include the reason the reader is getting the report, the basic highlights of the report and recommendations. Do not include the finer details in an executive summary, which is often a half-page overview. Provide details and support in the body of the project report.

Write each section of the report using your data and interviews. Organize the sections using a logical order. For example, don’t start with the budget until you have explained the components needed for the project. This will let you avoid having to explain each expense and why it’s needed twice. Don’t list the names of staff working on the project until you have listed the project components. For a variance section, include the original excepted outcomes and then the actual results.

Finish the report with a summary and recommendations based on the your findings. Use data to support your conclusions and recommendations. Refer readers to the appendix of your paper, which will include detailed support information, such as detailed budges, graphs, charts and other technical data.

Review your executive summary to determine if any of your initial summation should be changed based on the information you discovered while writing your report. Write the final version of the executive summary.

Compile the information in your appendix and place it in the order the information appears in your report. Go back to your report and include footnotes or page numbers to direct readers to appendix information.

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