Informative headings: how to get better results from business reports

4 September 2017

There are a few very quick and simple things you can do to make your written communications more readable. One is to break up the text with headings.

Newspapers understand the power of headings. A startling headline will grab your attention and stop you in your tracks. In business writing, headings act as signposts. Effective headings guide your reader by giving them key information. They also break the text into manageable chunks.

In a report, aim for two or three headings or subheadings per A4 page. Once you have worked out where to place your headings, it’s time to refine the wording. First you need to decide what type of heading to use.

Heading type Description Example Value
Topic Broadly identifies the topic Background or
Results
Low
Descriptive Tells the reader something about the information being presented Resident response to survey Moderate
Informative Tells the story and provides valuable information Only 1 in 10 residents supported extension of the marina High

 

The type of heading you choose will depend largely on the type of communication. Topic headings are short and do break up the text, but they tell the reader little of value. Descriptive headings give us more information, but are still fairly broad. Informative headings are generally longer, but provide high-level information at a glance. This is especially important for time-pressured decision makers.

Headings and subheadings are prime real estate. Yet they are a much under-used technique in business writing. Next time you notice large slabs of text in your report or other communication, simply break it up with descriptive or informative headings.

Could your team benefit from report writing training? Contact Concise Writing Consultancy on 02 9238 6638 today.

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