Faster Report Writing #1: Build a Great Report Template

tips for faster report writing banner

Hey fellow SLPs!  One of our biggest pain points is report writing. Talk to any SLP and they’ll tell you the report writing process bogs them down and takes longer than it should. Over the next few months, I am going to share 10 tips that I use to speed up my report writing process.  Evaluations make up the bulk of the services I provide each year.  I complete anywhere from 100 to 150 evaluations during a given school year so if I can shave even 30 minutes off of my report writing time, I’m saving a LOT of time. I’ll kick it off with a discussion of creating a great report template.

Faster Report Writing Tip #1:  Invest time in a good report template

If you are writing each report from scratch, you’re doomed.  And while no two reports are exactly alike, starting with a good template will save you loads of time.  I’ve worked with a lot of great SLPs, Diagnosticians, and School Psychologists over the years, and everyone definitely has their own system.  One Diagnostician I worked with in an early childhood setting had separate boy and girl templates so he didn’t have to change the pronouns each time he wrote a new report.  I’ve also seen SLPs who work with both younger and older populations set up different templates for the different ages.  For me, I struggled with having multiple templates and keeping them all updated.  So, I spent a little time researching Merges with Excel and Word. Now I don’t need to change pronouns or add tables in my template.  I’ll show you how.

I have an Excel spreadsheet where I put the information that needs to go into my report.  This includes things like the student’s name, pronouns, date of birth, parents’ names, teachers’ names, dates of various documents, tests scores, etc.  Column A shows WHAT goes in the box.  Column B is the child-specific information. Column C provides an example.

picture of Excel sheet for report template

Then I have a report template in Word with merge codes specifying what field to pull information from.

Picture of report template

This is a snippit from the first page.  Once I tell it to merge with my Excel sheet, all of my student’s information fills in.

picture of merged report template

Then, I can go in and tweak the report based on my student’s assessment results.  Most of the Excel sheet can be completed before you even start your evaluation.  Then, once you’re done, add your testing information and comments on behavior and attention, and presto, you have a detailed template with your student’s information and their correct pronouns ready to go.

Check out the Evaluation Report Text Samples in our Evaluation Resources Library for help building your template. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association also provides a number of templates on their website. We also have a 1-hour online course packed with tips for faster report writing so you can increase your efficiency and earn ASHA CEUs at the same time!

Next up:  Write Immediately after Testing

Written by: Ellen Kester

14 Comments on “Faster Report Writing #1: Build a Great Report Template”

  1. September 13, 2019 at 11:36 am #

    Is there a list of directions on how to complete the merge from (Excel to Word)?

    • September 19, 2019 at 8:14 pm #

      Recently, I did one of our SLP-Impact Masterclasses described that process in detail. If you are an SLP-Impact member, you can find the course in the course library there. If not, it’s available in the Bilinguistics course library for purchase.

  2. October 25, 2019 at 12:40 pm #

    Are the directions for how to merge from excel to word in the 1-hr course linked above?

    • October 29, 2019 at 3:17 pm #

      Hi Melinda,
      I did go through it in the course briefly. I also have created a video with more details on setting up the initial Word document. I will email you a link to it.
      Best, Ellen

  3. November 1, 2019 at 2:39 pm #

    Hi Ellen,
    I watched the video that you made when you first sent it out but would like to refer back to it because I am struggling to figure out the merge part and putting the codes into the report. I also took the masterclass that you did on this topic, but it did not have that very specific info. in it. Thanks so much for all of this wonderful information!

    • November 14, 2019 at 12:33 pm #

      Hi Lindsay, Try this video. I’ll also send you my spreadsheet sample that I used in this video.

  4. November 12, 2019 at 8:05 pm #

    Hi- Where can I purchase the video with details on setting up the initial word document?

    • November 14, 2019 at 12:26 pm #

      Hi Danielle,
      No need to purchase the video. Here is a link to it:
      How to merge Excel and Word documents for faster report writing

      Best, Ellen

      • October 5, 2021 at 11:14 pm #

        Would you be able to help me locate which video this is? Or help me get get that link to work (it is asking me to subscribe to vimeo for $7/month.)? Thanks!

      • October 6, 2021 at 8:04 am #

        Hi, thanks for the heads up about the bad link. I reloaded the comment and you can see the video now. Best, Scott

  5. February 20, 2020 at 5:56 pm #

    Hello Ellen,

    I would love to receive a copy of your spreadsheet sample as well! I’m an SLP impact member.

    • March 25, 2020 at 9:23 am #

      The Fluency Assessment Calculator and Fluency Assessment Flowchart are on the Evaluation Resources Page. Also in SLPImpact you can find them under the free ceu course: Fluency Assessment: Tasks, Tips and Tools

  6. December 30, 2021 at 1:31 pm #

    Hi! Do the fields have to go in the columns? On the picture for the article they are vertical in rows, which I like, but cannot figure out how to merge into word that way!

    Thank you!

    • December 30, 2021 at 4:50 pm #

      Hi Kristin,
      Yes, they do have to go in the columns. We find that it is easier to enter information when they are oriented vertically so we enter it that way and then copy and use “paste special” “transpose” and put the information into a new sheet with the fields in columns. It’s best to use Worksheet 1 for the columns and another worksheet for the vertical. Hope that helps. If not, reach out and we can walk you through it.

Leave a Reply