How to write a progress report

How to write a progress report

Do you know that receiving the right information can empower people to make the best decisions? Information is power, and understanding how to write a progress report enables you to pass important information that benefits a project.

A good progress report can help you get grants or other assistance for your project. You may need to inform your supervisor, instructor, client, or colleagues about the status of activities using a progress report. The best way to continuously keep your team updated is through a progress report. 

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Other interested parties can periodically get the information they need in a progress report. This type of report informs the recipients of the tasks you have completed. It shows the milestones reached and the anticipated future of a project.

Purpose of a progress report

Whether you are working on your dissertation or work project, a progress report is an essential project management tool. Writing a progress report keeps your entire team informed on what is happening in a project. This type of report enables collaboration among team members.

It provides transparency and accountability. Progress reports help to improve monitoring, evaluation, and accountability of project activities. Managers and decision-makers can use such reports to gain insights for future planning.

How to write a progress report

The frequency of writing a progress report will depend on the complexity of a project. You may need to write your work progress reports daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually. The following steps will help you write an accurate progress report

1.     Define the purpose of your work progress report

Understand what is a progress report and its purpose. This will keep you on the right track. A progress report is a type of document usually required by your supervisor, colleagues, or clients. This document shows the amount of work you have completed, work in progress, and work that is not yet complete.

This report shows the problems you have encountered and any unexpected issues that may arise. A work progress report informs the recipients of the general status of work after some specified time. Depending on the task you are working on, you can consider the following progress reports

A research progress report

This type of report has information on a particular subject that you are researching. . You need to look at different sources of information. Cite these sources in your report. Information like costs is not included in a research  paper progress report.

Work progress reports

You can write a work progress report to your supervisor or your client. In each case, you need to understand why you are writing this type of report to them.

The progress report that you give your client is different from a report you submit to your supervisor. What your supervisor needs to know and a client wants to understand in most cases is different.

2.     Consider your target audience

Understand your target audience and how your project concerns them. You need to be aware of how the outcome of a project will affect your audience. Progress report writing requires you to be specific about the details of activities you are working on.

There is general information that you can include in a report but ensure it is tailored towards specific activities. Readers of your progress report can be your supervisor superior, a donor agency, or a client. When writing your progress report, consider how it will affect them and how it will influence the decision they need to make.  

For example, your readers may need to make a decision on the type of support or investment they need to make in a project. The decision may be financial support or giving the project more time. The information you present in your progress report should help readers know how they can participate and oversee a project.

Include technical aspects of your project. Your targeted readers may be experts, or they may not be experts in the field you are working on. Consider their level of expertise and choose whether you should use industry terms and jargon.

3.     Consider the best method of communication

Progress report writing can be in many forms depending on the audience you are addressing. Choose the best progress report formats to present your information. You can consider the following

Oral reports

They are word-of-mouth presentations on the progress of a project. The presentation can be made in a staff meeting.


These are emails that are sent periodically to colleagues. The aim of the email is to inform staff or team members about the progress of a specific project.


Reports sent to supervisors can be in form of memos. The information should be brief and informal.

Formal reports

These types of reports are primarily written to people outside an organization like clients, government agencies, or donors. They should be clear, concise and should follow specific reporting guidelines.

4.     Reach out to your supervisor

When writing a progress report, follow the laid down procedures and ensure you meet all the reporting requirements. An organization or company may have a specific format and rules that you need to follow. Looking at a progress report sample from previous activities will provide you with insights on what is required.

Reach out to your supervisor or college instructor and seek clarification on details you are not sure about. Reaching out and conducting research will help you write an effective report that meets the required standards.

5.     Choose the correct tone of voice

The type of progress report you are writing will determine the tone of voice you need to use. Progress reports that targets internal members of an organization like emails and memos are mostly informal.

This means that your coursework writing should have an informal tone unless you are given different instructions. Confirm with your supervisor or instructor and let him or her guide you on what the organization prefers.

Other stakeholders like government agencies or clients should be given a formal progress report. Regardless of whether the report you are writing is formal or informal, you need to make sure it is clear, truthful, and focused.

How to make a progress report

A progress report is made at the end of a specific period intending to inform recipients of the progress of activities. The project you are working on can be anything from a construction, a study research problem, or a specific art and design. You should consider the following when presenting your information

1.     Progress report format

Choose the best way to present your information after deciding your tone of voice and the purpose of your report. Your report should be clear, and readers should be able to skim through it quickly to get the information they need.

2.     Bulleting and Infographics

Bullets are an excellent way to write memos and email reports that are less formal. Your supervisor and colleagues will be able to read your report. The use of Infographics is another way to make your report interesting and easy to understand.

Tables, graphs, and charts are easy to understand. They show specific trends clearly compared to text and plain numbers. This is a great way of presenting a formal progress report, especially to donors or external stakeholders.

3.     Create subsections

Subsections help make your writing clear and group related information together. Readers can quickly identify what they are looking for using subsections. Subheadings are like signposts that help readers know what to expect in a particular report section.

How to structure your progress report

Writing a progress report requires a proper structure that will be easy for your readers to follow. Organize your work and make your points flow logically from the introduction to the concluding section. Consider the following in your report

1.     How to write a progress report heading

A progress report heading is the first thing your readers will see when they receive your report. Each organization or university has a specific format on how to write a progress report heading. When using a page format, you can write it on top of your paper.

A report heading should have a submission date, name, and the position of the person who will receive your report. You should also include the name, the position of the writer, and the title of your report. Confirm with your supervisor or instructor how your report heading should be formatted.

2.     How to write a progress report introduction

Your introduction should come after the heading of your report. You can use italics to differentiate it from other sections of your report. An introduction of a progress report gives an overview of your project and a status summary.

This section of your report should present up-to-date information on the progress of activities in your project. It should introduce your project and state its purpose. Include goals achieved and remind your readers that the document is a progress report for a specific period.

3.     Write the body section

The body of your progress report should elaborate on the introduction section. Make it easy for your readers to read or search for information in this section. Break your progress report body into subsections. Include the following in the body paragraph


  • Write about tasks that have been completed since your last progress report and the activities that are still in progress
  • Include the problems you encountered when working on specific tasks and how you addressed them
  • Write about changes that had to be made and give reasons why they were made
  • Discuss the personnel changes that happened, cost overruns, or challenges like delays in getting materials

4.     Lessons learned

Towards the end of your progress report, write about lessons you and your team learned during the reporting period. Including lessons learned in a particular phase of a project will enable you to apply these lessons in the next phase of your project. Lessons learned can be in any area like technology or security. They will help your team to work more efficiently.

5.     What next for your project

This section in the body paragraph explains to your readers what will be happening next in a project. This can be specific actions on project budget, management structure, or completion deadline of a project.

Inform readers whether there is any change in project deadlines. Provide accurate information about the actual state of a project without alarming or exciting your audience. Avoid making promises that you may not be able to deliver.

6.     Time worked

Incorporate your team’s work plan in your report. The work plan should show the number of hours you and your team worked on a project. This will show your supervisor, donor, or agency that provides resources for your project the effort you have put into the work.

What you should include and what to avoid

There are general guidelines on how to write a progress report sample and specific things that apply to a particular project. Understanding what to include in your progress report and what to avoid is vital in writing an excellent progress report. The following are some of the things you need to consider when writing your report

1.     Focus on the topic

Stay focused on the topic of your report.  Do not stray to other areas that will not add value to your report. Some issues you may want to add in your report may be interesting and slightly related to your project. It is best to avoid such issues if they do not add value to your report. Stay focused on the most pertinent information so that readers do not get confused.

2.     Keep your progress reports simple

Your progress report should be straightforward. Directly explain to readers what you have achieved in a given period. Do not overwhelm readers with unnecessary information or ideas.

Discuss the progress of activities, what is pending, and changes that need to be made. You may be required to write a progress report that has a specified page limit. Include all important information in your report and make it short and accurate.

3.     Do not be vague

Write a specific report that shows where you are in the project implementation process and where you are going. Where necessary, use specific data and quantify information to give your readers a clearer picture of what is happening.

4.     Write a summary

The summary of your report should include the most essential things in the body section of your progress report. Make it concise and capture your significant points.

5.     Cite sources of your work

You may need to include information from external sources like graphs or industry data. Make sure you correctly cite these sources. You can cite your work using APA and MLA format.

Add a reference page in your progress report and cite your work using the right format. Ask your supervisor or college instructor to guide you if you are unsure how to cite your work.

6.     Review your report

Read through your progress report and ensure it captures all the important details of your project. Confirm figures and data. Verify that the information you have presented is factual. Avoid giving your personal opinion. Counter-check facts and let your progress report be a true reflection of how the project is implemented.

Functions of a progress report

Different stakeholders need a progress report for various reasons. The following are some of the functions of a progress report as a form of reassurance to stakeholders. It shows how project implementation is progressing, challenges, and future plans. It provides a confirmation that the project will be completed within the required timelines.

The recipients of a progress report gain insight into what is happening in a project. They are informed about findings or any developments in a specified period. Your readers can evaluate work done and request changes in project activities. The data and specific information about a project will enable tracking of key performance indicators. This will help readers to evaluate project progress against set targets.

You can discuss problems encountered during a phase of project implementation and warn the recipients of future challenges. such problems can serve as lessons learned on what needs to be done in certain situations.

The progress report shows professionalism in your work. Keeping your team members, supervisor, clients, and government agencies up to date with project activities encourages transparency. This creates trust between you and your clients.

Progress report formats and timing

You can do progress report writing after weeks, three months, six months, or after one year. The report depends on the size of a project, duration, and importance of implementing a project. The following forms of project reports have different formats and timing.

  • A memo is a short and informal report for your colleagues or other people in an organization
  • A letter is a type of formal report that is sent to people outside an organization
  • A formal report targets project stakeholders outside an organization

Tips on how to make a progress report

Make your progress report an answer sheet to questions that your supervisor, client, or government agency might ask. Discuss the status of a project in a way that will give readers the answers they are looking for.

Make your report like a Q&A discussion. This will enable stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding the current state and future of the project. Write using clear and simple language that your audience can understand.

Where necessary, use technical jargon and explain further if needed. Explain the acronyms or abbreviations that you use in your report. When writing your progress report, use active voice instead of passive voice.

An active voice is easier for your readers to understand. Include specific details in your report that will give readers an accurate picture of the progress of your project. Elaborate your point using relevant and current statistics like percentages, ratios, or figures where possible.

Make your report easy to understand using graphics, pictures, and tables. Presenting information using graphics helps readers to understand your report faster. Introduce effective management techniques like PPP “Progress, Plans and Problems.”

This technique provides specific answers that are meaningful to your targeted readers instead of generic questions and answers.PPP reduces unnecessary details and fluff and focuses on relevant information. Each p means the following


This shows the milestones and project goals that have been achieved. Tasks that are complete and validated items. All these activities contribute towards the completion of your project.


Your project report should specify long-term and short-term objectives that will contribute to project completion. The plans should have realistic dates and deadlines.


Write about problems that have affected the progress of your work. Specify how each problem is a hindrance to project progress. A progress report sample that uses the PPP technique should have at least three to five items in the answers provided.

Give a realistic timeline for submitting this type of progress report. When reports are too frequent, the quality might be compromised.

Set a realistic reporting schedule

Work progress reports should be high quality and helpful to the recipients. To achieve this, you need to set realistic deadlines that allow your team to complete a particular phase of activities. For example, long-term projects that last for one year or more should not produce daily reports.

The appropriate reporting schedule can be quarterly, semiannually, and annual reporting. When reporting schedule is wrong, the report might have unsatisfactory answers. Set appropriate reporting schedules and actual reporting deadlines. Include specific metrics in your report that will enable you to track project progress in a meaningful way.

Key takeaway

Knowing how to write a progress report will help you provide valuable, high-quality information to project stakeholders. They may include clients, government agencies, your supervisor, or your college instructor. A well-written progress report is a reflection of the activities and status of a project.

It should provide relevant information to different recipients in a correct and concise manner. Your report should be specific, well-formatted, and easy to read. Set realistic timelines and use project management techniques that will help you track the progress of your project. To learn more on how to write your progress report, contact us.

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