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11.02 Preparation

Before beginning to write a report or to collect the data for it, determine who is expected to read the report and what use the reader is likely to make of it. The content and format of a report will be significantly affected by whether it is written for specialists or non-specialists, and whether it is an internal document for a limited number of persons or a report for public distribution.

The purpose for which it is required is equally significant: it may be intended to note certain facts for information purposes, to make recommendations for action, to serve as a basis for discussion or debate, or to record the findings of an investigation or study.

Next, collect the data: documents, evidence, statistics and other potentially useful information. Then organize, analyse and evaluate the data collected, selecting what is essential. Finally, draw up a work plan in chronological order, order of importance, or a combination of the two. Now you should be ready to write the report.