Everyone has been there. For whatever reason, your boss has asked you to write a short report. It is due at the end of the week. Your palms are already getting sweaty, and you feel an overwhelming sense of impending doom. You haven't written a report since college, and even then you just barely passed your basic English class. Grammar is something you only faintly remember from grade school. Relax. It's not as hard as it looks. If you follow a few easy steps, you can produce a short report that makes your boss proud of you. (He will probably take all the credit!)

First, of course, open your computer's word processor. Now think, what did your boss want your report to be about? Is it supposed to prove an idea? Is it supposed to be purely informational? Is it intended to sell something? This will be the central theme of the report. It will also be your introduction. Now, type that central theme out in about a paragraph or so.

Second, think about the central theme. Now type every word or short phrase you can think of that may be relevant to the central theme. Let yourself brainstorm and type everything that comes to mind. Then number each item in order of its importance. The highest number items will be the most important for your report. The lesser number items will either help to flesh out the report, or you will discard them as irrelevant. Since this is a short report, you will probably only use the top numbered items. This information, in sum total, will be the middle of the report.

Now take those numbered items, and in order, write a sentence or two about each item. Describe how each item relates to your report's central theme. Make sure each item supports your theme. If some items aren't really relevant, don’t use them.

Finally, you will need to finish the report. Write one paragraph that sums everything up. Restate the basic intention of the paper. Tell the reader that you have provided support of that basic intention. Then finish by saying the basic intention of the report is true.

Now that you have completed this first draft, it is time to perfect the final report. Reread it from top to bottom. Streamline anything that doesn’t seem to flow. Take out anything that isn’t pertinent. Add anything you may have left out. Put your report away for an hour or two. Then look at it again with a fresh perspective.

No document should be published without being proofread. Most word processors have a spelling and grammar check. Use this several times while writing your report, and again when you are finished. As you may know, these computer functions are not always accurate. Print out your report, sit down with a red pen, and proofread with your own eyes. One proofreading trick is to read each sentence from right to left. Try to catch any errors. Ideally, you should have someone else proofread your report.

Finally, when you turn in your report, make sure that the report is visually pleasing. Don’t drink your morning coffee, and then use the report as a drink coaster! Put the report in a simple binder. Make sure to have a title page. Don’t apologize when you hand your report to your boss. Act confident! Be confident! After all, your boss probably had you write the report because he didn’t know how to write one either.