10 Tips and Scheme to use in writing a summary report
To be useful, a summary report must be clear and concise and at the same time give the person reading it the information necessary to frame the topic.
1 – Inquire about the context
Understand the needs of the company / your boss and choose the editorial style that suits you best.
2– Know your interlocutor
Who will read your report?
Before starting, it is essential to understand the level of knowledge of your interlocutor on the subject.
If you turn to a neophyte, your report will have to give an overall view of the topic. If the person is informed about the facts, you can focus only on the most salient aspects.
It is also advisable to adapt the vocabulary of the report according to the public that will read it.
3 – Understanding the purpose of the report
Why do you have to write the report?
To help your manager make a decision? … To help him look for a solution to a problem? … Do you already know that you will have to follow up with a more detailed report? … Do you need to check information or provide an update on a specific topic?
Depending on the purpose of the report, you will have to choose how to deal with the topic and how to select the information to be included in the document.
Try to update as much as possible before launching the document and collecting information.
Important: if you have any doubts, do not hesitate to ask your manager for clarification: he certainly has a precise idea of ??the information he wants to read in the document and it is therefore better to know it before going to work.
4 – Find information using methodology
To avoid wasting time, start the research by already having in mind the kind of information you want to collect.
We therefore advise you to read a reference document to clarify your ideas on the subject.
Important: if you can summarize the topic in 1 or 2 sentences, it means that you will be able to identify the fundamental information on which you must stop.
5– Use a diagram
Use a scheme to sort and classify your research and information collected.
At the center: write the topic
Then add 8 branches that correspond to the following questions: who, when, what, how, how, why (the causes), for what (the objectives), where.
The boxes will fill up as you go along with your research.
6 – Organize information:
Once you have distributed the information you have collected in the various boxes, you will have to harmonize your data by building the text of your report.
If you initially made a simple “copy paste” of the sentences during your search, you will have to make the effort to reformulate the whole.
You can also make a simple list but be careful to at least harmonize the form. This will be an excellent exercise that will allow you to be sure that you have understood all the elements you have gathered.
At the slightest doubt or the first ambiguity, do not hesitate to deepen your initial research work, perhaps you have come across a delicate point.
7 – Identify the key points
Identify the terms that contain the main meanings of the topic.
It will be very simple if you have used the scheme shown in point 5: in fact having entered the information in the various boxes of the diagram should help you to make the most important aspects of the topic emerge naturally.
The lineup and structure of your relationship should look like this at a glance!
Important: “often the longest cells deserve more attention!”
8 – Write the introduction
The introduction must be brief and must make the reader understand the framework in which the document was drawn up.
It is necessary to explain to your interlocutor the problem or the question that has raised the need for the report (or possibly, the various problems).
9 – Build a plan
The first part generally consists of an observation that will allow the reader to take cognizance of the topic.
Afterwards, you will choose the important points depending on the topic and purpose of your summary.
10 – Final recommendations for the preparation of a summary report
- Keep in mind that the synthesis favors the rapid understanding of the quality of writing: therefore be clear, and break up the long topics with short and light sentences
- Use the technical terms only if the report is intended for “experts”
- The use of abbreviations and acronyms is allowed but do not forget to write in full their meaning the first time you refer to them
- Prefer the use of charts and tables when you need to give numerical data
- Value the key information (which you summarized in the diagram)
- Give importance to the layout: clear and synthetic
- Choose effective titles: give a first impression on the quality of your work; in fact the titles are important and help the reader to understand the content of the paragraph.
- However, unless it is the culture of your company, don’t be too creative! it is better to use sober titles and avoid those in big or sensational type like newspaper headlines
- Always quote the sources from which you obtained the information at the end of the report.