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How to write a report summary

Updated February 21, 2017

A report summary will often appear at the end of a report, especially if the information in the report is detailed, complex or technical. In a summary, the writer condenses the report’s main ideas, conclusions and recommendations. Think of a report as a puzzle with each piece being a section of the report; the summary is written from the perspective of someone standing above the now-completed puzzle, looking down and reviewing the experience. Cover some or all of the following when writing your next report summary.

State the purpose of the report. Why was it written? You might say, for instance, that this report details the result of a review, by ABC Consultants, of XYZ Company’s information systems from July 1 to July 6.

Briefly describe the scope of the report. What problem does it solve or what issues are covered? For example, you might say that access to XYZ’s information via the internet, network and telecommunications systems was tested for security weaknesses.

Provide an overview of the research methods used. How was information for the report gathered? Example: Testing was conducted through assessments of XYZ’s information systems policies, evaluation of existing system controls and interviews with management and system users.

State the key results and findings detailed in the report. What did you find out? Example: Expose the security controls that were found to be deficient.

Present the main conclusions and recommendations. What should the reader do about it? Example: We recommend XYZ Company establish an acceptable use policy and require employee password protection.

Make sure each of the above reflects the order of the sections in the report.

Tip

Do not include examples, illustrations or references in your report summary. Summaries should be no more than 10 per cent of a report.

Things You'll Need

  • Report body
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About the Author

Gail began writing professionally in 2004. Now a full-time proofreader, she has written marketing material for an IT consulting company, edited auditing standards for CPAs and ghostwritten the first draft of a nonfiction Amazon bestseller. Gail holds a Master of Arts in English literature and has taught college-level business communication, composition and American literature.