How to Write a Small Report Using the P.A.G.E.S. System

Last time you learned how to create a great title for your small report. Over the next three lessons, you’ll learn how to use my P.A.G.E.S. System to quickly and easily create the report itself!

The system is called “P.A.G.E.S.” because each letter (P – A – G – E – S) stands for one of the five steps in the system…

  • P – PLAN out your report by brainstorming ideas.
  • A – ARRANGE your ideas sequentially or systematically.
  • G – GROW your content by “filling in the blanks”.
  • E – EXTRACT bullet points for your ad copy while you write.
  • S – SMOOTH out the rough spots to complete the report.
So, let’s go ahead and begin with step 01…

Step #1: PLAN out your report by brainstorming ideas.

Obviously, by this time, you should have chosen a topic to build the content of your report around.


So, where do you start? You start by simply brainstorming ideas for possible inclusion in your report.

The easiest way that I’ve discovered for doing this is to simply:

Write a list of everything you want to share. That’s right, just write down everything you want to share in your report. I’m talking just start rambling on paper (or your computer screen). Everything you can think of that relates to the subject of your report.

At this step, all you need to do is to write your thoughts down. Don’t worry about relevance or whether you’ll even use all these ideas.

Just get them down. Jot down as many of these as you can find…

Ideas Notes Lists Questions Facts Statistics
Reminders Personal reflections Thoughts Things-To-Do Reasons Quotes
Checklists Details Steps Comparisons Contrasts Illustrations / Stories

Now, I want to give you one of the most invaluable brainstorming exercises you’ll ever use for generating ideas for your report. I call it “alphabetizing“.

Starting with the letter “A” in the alphabet, literally begin thinking of events, places, people, items, verbs, ideas, etc. that begin with that letter and are related to the topic of your report. The goal is to go all the way to “Z”.

Example: If you are writing a product related to traveling to Orlando, you might have…

  • A = Airports
  • B = Business travel
  • C = Choosing hotels
  • D = Dining
  • E = Epcot
  • F = Free tickets
  • G = Golfing

So, that’s how you “plan out your report by brainstorming ideas”. That’s the “P” of the “P.A.G.E.S.” system. Now, let’s move on to step 2 which is…

Step #2: ARRANGE your ideas sequentially or systematically.

There are two basic ways to “arrange” your ideas once you have them all jotted down – in other words, “organize” them so they make sense. These two ways are “sequentially” and “systematically“.

Sequentially: That is, you would organize your ideas in chronological steps. You would simply outline your report based on what comes first and then what comes after that.

Step 1 is… Step 2 is… Step 3 is…

Tip: Now, as a rule of thumb, I recommend that you keep the total number of steps to something in SINGLE DIGITS.

No more than 9 steps. Anything more than that could be viewed as “too much work” in the eyes of your readers.

Systematically: You’d group ideas together based on their logical relationship to each other.

Example #1: If your title is “5 Keys to Saving Your Marriage Now”, then that’s the basic framework for your outline. You divide things into sections or parts, whatever you want to call them, one for each of the 5 keys.

Key #1 is a section. Key #2 is a section. Key #3 is a section. And so forth. All your ideas would fall into one of your 5 keys.

Example #2: If you have a LOT of different ideas, such as “101 Homeschooling Tips for First-Time Parents”, then find 5-9 main topics to group them into. For example, “tips for finding the right curriculum”, “tips for planning field trips,” “tips for creating a learning environment,” “tips for social interaction” and so forth.

Note: Now, let me give you a recommendation on arranging ideas that I’ve found to be very important over the years. While you want ALL your report to be quality content that’s useful to your customer, let’s face it, some points are stronger than others.

There are some things you’ll be sharing that are just better or more important or less known than others.

It’s important that you fire these FIRST and LAST.

That is, you want your best work (if possible, understandably “steps” come in whatever order they appear) to be in the first few pages and then finish strong in the last few pages.

If you have any content that’s “weaker” than the rest, then you’ll want to include it somewhere in the middle if it’s important enough to share at all.

It’s not that you’re trying to “hide” anything, it’s simply that you want to minimize your weaknesses and showcase your strengths.

Step #3: GROW your content by “filling in the blanks”.

By this point you should have a nice outline created from all your ideas. Now, it’s simply a matter of “filling in the blanks”. That is, write a few paragraphs of meaty information for each of your points listed in your outline. That’s all it takes.

What I do is just a little bit of math. I take the total number of pages that I want and divide it by the total number of ideas that I’ve written down, so I can see how much I need to write for each point.


Example: Let’s suppose I want to create a 10 pages report on my topic. Let’s further suppose that I have 20 “ideas” that I’ve brainstormed to share in the report that I’ve arranged in 5 different sections.

Doing the math, we find that I need ½ page of content per idea to meet the page requirement. So, I begin writing the first point and when I’ve reached 1/2 page, I know I can quit anytime I finalize the thought I’m sharing.

Some of your points will require less space to share than the numbers would demand. That’s okay, because some of your points will go over. It all balances out in the end, and it’s not an exact science.

It’s just a way to keep things balanced.

It really doesn’t even matter that you do the math… if you do the writing. Simply write a few paragraphs explanation for each of the points.

Note: Don’t be afraid to mix in some humor. Inject your own personality into the writing.

Now, let’s move on to step number 4…

Step #4: EXTRACT bullet points for your ad copy while you write.

With any good sales letter, there will be a “bullet list” of benefit statements. You’ve seen them at sales letters online. They offer encapsulated glimpses into what the product or service being offered means to you in terms of its benefit to you.

What I like to do is develop these bullet points as I’m writing the content.

Repeatedly, I’ve found myself writing things in my reports like, “the fastest way I know to…” or “3 of the easiest ways to…” or “my own secret weapon for…” or “if you don’t do anything else, make sure you do this…”

So, when I find myself writing those things, I stop at the completion of my thought process and I write down a variation of the statement that I made for use as a bullet point.


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Notice, of course, that they are in bullet form. You’ll undoubtedly notice that you make similar statements throughout writing the content for your special report.

Take just a few seconds to extract those statements so you can use them on your sales letter as bulleted benefits. I recommend that you grab about 10-12 of them for the sales page for these kinds of special reports.

Just one step left to go in the P.A.G.E.S. System. Let’s get right to it…

Step #5: SMOOTH out the rough spots to complete the report.

Once you’ve written the content for your special report, you’ll want to fine-tune it. There are three things that I recommend you do in putting on the finishing touches for your report…

  1. PAD. That is, look for areas of your report that need further explanation. Are there any areas that are not clearly explained? Are there areas that are noticeably weaker than others? Make sure your points are understandable. Try to add in as many examples as possible to better illustrate the points. Toss in a few more tips here and there where needed. You can add interview transcripts, quotes, research and other bits of information to get the points across better and add a bit more meat to the report.
  1. POLISH. Use different fonts to distinguish areas of your content. Change colors. Use alternative styles such as bold face, italics and underline. Indent text where appropriate. Use bullet points. (Especially on lists.) Insert headers, footers and graphics.
  2. PROOFREAD. The final “smoothing out” you need to make certain you do is to proofread your entire document for typographic and grammatical errors. Better still would be to allow someone else who is qualified to do it for you. While this isn’t a deal breaker by any means (quality of content is MUCH more important than quality of grammar in information-based reports), it certainly is a good idea to put your best foot forward.

So, there you have it, the “P.A.G.E.S.” system. Each letter (P – A – G – E – S) stands for one of the five steps in the system. Let’s recap it one more time:

  • P – PLAN out your report by brainstorming ideas.
  • A – ARRANGE your ideas sequentially or systematically.
  • G – GROW your content by “filling in the blanks”.
  • E – EXTRACT bullet points for your ad copy while you write.
  • S – SMOOTH out the rough spots to complete the report.

So, finish off your short report using what you’ve learned in this lesson.


Jose J. Key