Academic Writing Complete Guide

Progress Reports: How to Write a Progress Report

These are common critical documents usually written in engineering and science. When you are part of a research team reporting to a funding organization about your progress on the work you are undertaking for the organization, you have to write a progress report. It summarizes the status, progress, and the potential future for a specific project. When you are writing a progress report, you are expected to include the exact timelines for the completion of the project, status of the materials in use and an accurate account for the funds spent and a summary of the current results and projected results. The future of that project hinges on the professionalism of that project report.

On the other hand, teachers use project reports in class as a way of summarizing the progress of a student. They give feedback afterward indicating their satisfaction on the pr4ogress of the student or not. As such, the student has to write this project report since they present a chance to express key sentences of the final report and even pose questions to the person being addressed. The guidelines for writing project reports in school are more flexible that when one is doing them on a job. As such, students should use this opportunity to practice how to write these project reports.

Project reports are very crucial part of the project management, whether you are writing it as a dissertation or a project at work. It is an essential paper to keep your colleague, supervisors, or your clients up-to-date with the progress of the project you are undertaking. The report will focus on what you are working on and what you intend to accomplish.

how to write a progress report

The process of how to write a progress report


Ensure that you understand the purpose of your proposal

There are different reasons that drive your instructor to request your project report, and one of the major reasons is to check your progress on the project. As such, there are different project proposals that you are required to know.

  • Progress report
    This is a report on a research project that is different from a progress report on a project at work. It requires you to cite more information, and you are not going to consider things like cost as such.
  • On the other hand, a work report for a client reads a little but, differently than for a superior at work. You have to consider the reason why you are writing this report.

Think about your audience

Once you have understood the purpose of your report, you have to think about the kind of information that your audience needs to know. Progress reports have general things that they incorporate, but you have to consider the specifics.

  • Find the connection between your readers and the project, how the outcome of the project will affect them. Now, the effects of the project on your audience are not going to be the same on your superior, and you have to consider that.
  • Think about the decision that the audience is likely to make after they read your report. Are they going to offer support, or invest in money and time?
  • For effective participation of your audience in the project, consider the information that they need to know. It can be about the technical aspects, but you have to find out if they are familiar with the technical jargon.

Choose the best way to communicate with your audience progress report can take any form depending on the need at hand. It goes beyond merely writing and submission to your superior or professor. It can take any of these forms:


  • It can be a brief oral report at weekly or monthly staff meetings
  • It can take the form of periodic emails to colleagues
  • It can also be formal or informal memos to supervisors
  • It can be a formal report to a client or government agencies.

Consult your supervisor

You have to keep in touch with your supervisor before and during the writing process of the progress report to get as much guidance as possible. Your company may prefer a specific format in which case you have to be sure that it is followed accordingly.

Consider the tone you use in your progress report

Not every progress report is formal. For instance, some of the progress reports for colleagues and supervisors take a more informal tone. It is one of the reasons for consulting your supervisor to know exactly what they are looking for. If it is a thesis review, a report to a client or government agency, it has to be formal. Irrespective of the tone that you have used, your progress report must be clear, honest and focused.

proposal writing

Writing the progress report


The following steps are essential when you are writing your progress report

Decide on the presentation of your progress report

By the time you are putting pen to paper, you already know the tone that you will use as well as the point you want to make in the report. Now you have to decide on the best way to communicate your point to your audience.

  • Bulleted list
    It is very clear and easy to skim and till drive your point home. However, it is not a formal way of writing your progress report and it world best for memos to supervisors and emails to colleagues.
  • Adding graphs or tables
    This can apply best if you are writing a project report that aims at getting funds, or you are merely showing why you deserve the funding that you have been given.

You can use subsections

If you want your progress report to be successful, it has to employ clarity from the onset. You can divide it into subsections as a way of grouping relevant material together. It can become even clearer if you add headings and subheadings to enable your audience to know what comes in each section and subsection. If there is some information they are interested in, they will be able to locate it easily.

Write down your heading

This goes across the top of the paper depending on the format that you have used as well as the preference of the university or the organization to which you are addressing. As such, you have to check with them to ensure you do not miss on any of their requirements.

Your heading must have the date of submission, the name and the position of your audience, your name and position and the subject of your report.

Write your introduction

This comes right below the heading and can be set apart from the rest of the text using italics. It is a brief project overview that summaries its status. It establishes the progress that has been achieved so far and whether some of the objectives have been achieved.

You have to include the purpose of your report, introduction to the project t and a reminder that the report is an update on the progress of the entire project.

Write the body of your proposal

This is a detailed version of the introduction, irrespective of the sections and subsections. You expand on the information you have put in the introduction. In other words, you are providing specifics on the accomplishments made since the last report and the tasks currently underway. You have to discuss the challenges that you have faced and the issues that need to be address as well as the potential solutions to these challenges and issues.

You can also address the changes that have taken place and the reason why they need to be made. If there are personnel changes, highlight them in your report plus the difficulties encountered in obtaining material, the cost overruns you have faced and the delays or problems relating to technology and security.

Address what you intend to do next

Since this is a part of the progress report, ensure that the audience knows the direction of your project. State the problems that are likely to interfere with the deadline for completion, the budget, or the structure of the management. Do not sugarcoat the problems for your audience but do not alarm them or give promises you cannot keep.

Incorporate in your report, the total hours worked

You have to show the amount of work you and your team have put into the project. It shows your audience that you are working hard.

progress report writing

Pitfalls to look out for


  • Ensure you stay on the topic
    Stick to the basic information outlined above and avoid digressing into other areas that have remote relation to the project
  • Maintain simplicity
    The idea of writing progress reports is to make it simple and easy to understand. Focus on how your project is coming along, and what needs to be addressed and the projected changes. Cut down your details to an as specific limit depending on whom you are sending in your report. The idea is to keep it as short as possible.
  • Avoid being too vague
    Provide specifics on where you are with the project.

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