There are (at least) two types of report readers in the world.
- People who want to follow you as you work through to the answer
- People who want to know the answer straight away
This causes much frustration in report writing because each type of reader thinks, â€˜Obviously, you need to give me the â€œso whatâ€ firstâ€™, or â€˜Obviously, your report doesnâ€™t make sense unless you build it up from strong foundationsâ€™.
Type 1 people
- Scientists and anyone with Dr in their name
- Public servants
Type 2 people
I used to write Type 1 reports. Then one project involving lots of lawyers turned me into a Type 2 report writer. This has worked well for me recently, as I’ve been working with architects and urban designers.
Right now, though, I am now turning a Type 2 report into a Type 1 report because the client is a scientist plus a public servant. Sadly, we actually want Type 2 people to read this report but canâ€™t say no to the Type 1 client body.
(There is a halfway house on this — long executive summaries. But it’s not a perfect solution.)