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How to write conclusions and recommendations

Updated February 21, 2017

Conclusions and recommendations are positioned at the end of a report, before the appendices. They help clarify the information provided in the main body of a business or academic report. One tip for writing conclusions and recommendations is to ensure that they give a standalone overview of the nature of your research, its findings, implications and effective ways to implement ideas. This helps your reader to understand what your report is about, even if he doesn’t have time to read it all.

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Conclusions

  1. Summarize key points and findings. This helps readers to quickly assess what the report is about and what it has achieved. It also serves as a quick reference guide if the report is discussed in a meeting or used as a basis for further research.

  2. Outline the implications of your findings. A report that investigates the effect of staff training programmes on productivity and provides evidence that such schemes are effective will, logically, suggest that there is a case for investing in additional training.

  3. Write conclusions in the same order as the points discussed in the report’s main body. If, for example, the first section of a product analysis report focuses on consumer research, the first conclusion should briefly encapsulate how potential customers perceive the product.

  4. Strive for clarity. Use bullet points or divide conclusions into short, separate paragraphs. Breaking conclusions into bite-sized chunks helps the reader to digest them.

Recommendations

  1. Arrange recommendations in the same order as conclusions. This creates cohesion in the reader’s mind because recommendations should follow on naturally from conclusions. A report concluding, for example, that a proposed software programme is cost-effective and will increase productivity is likely to recommend purchasing the software.

  2. Provide specific information about how recommendations can be implemented. If you are recommending that a specific project should be undertaken, suggest a suitable timescale, how it should be carried out and who should be responsible for it.

  3. Create a professional impression. Base recommendations on objective evidence provided in the report, rather than personal opinion. Instead of saying, “I recommend that we launch this product within six months,” say something like: “Based on evidence gathered through market research, it would be financially beneficial to have the product on the market within six months.”

  4. Number conclusions and recommendations. This gives readers an easy reference point for discussion and follow-up reports.

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About the Author

Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.

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