How to Write Intelligence Reports That Get Read and Actioned


In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to write intelligence reports that are concise, influential, and actionable. We will explore the importance of brevity in intelligence reporting, the structure and format of an intelligence report, and provide you with a step-by-step template to help you get started. Whether you are an intelligence analyst, a military officer, or involved in any field that requires intelligence reporting, this article will equip you with the necessary skills to create effective intelligence briefs. So let’s dive in and learn how to craft intelligence reports that get read and actioned.

What is an Intelligence Report?

An intelligence report, also known as an INTREP, is a document or brief used to convey the findings of the intelligence process. It is written to answer specific information requirements and provide updates to the commander or decision-makers. Intelligence reports are generated when new events or information comes to light, and they serve as a means to share intelligence with the intended audience.

Who Writes Intelligence Reports?

Intelligence reports are written by intelligence analysts who are responsible for gathering, analysing, and interpreting information from various sources. They are trained professionals who possess the expertise to distil complex intelligence into concise and informative reports. While different intelligence agencies and organisations may contribute to larger strategic intelligence briefs, intelligence reports are ultimately the product of intelligence staff.

Who Receives Intelligence Reports?

Intelligence reports are received by the leadership, policymakers, or executives in charge of strategy. They are used to shape operational initiatives and provide decision-makers with a “decision advantage.” In a military context, intelligence reports are received by the commanding officer, who then determines the best course of action based on the latest information and updates.

All-Source Intelligence Reports

As an all-source intelligence analyst, your role is to develop intelligence reports on a daily basis. Depending on the operational events, you may be required to write multiple reports each day, which will be included in the daily intelligence summary. These reports can range from detailed assessments to smaller tactical intelligence updates, but their goal remains the same: to convey intelligence effectively.

Types of Intelligence Reports

Intelligence reports can be categorised into various types, including intelligence summaries, intelligence estimates, or intelligence briefs. Some reports are long and detailed assessments, while others are shorter and designed to convey tactical intelligence or updates. Regardless of the specific type, the ultimate objective of all intelligence reporting is to convey intelligence to the customer in a clear and concise manner.

Sharing Intelligence Reporting

Traditionally, intelligence reports were typed and hand-delivered by classified messengers. However, in today’s digital age, most intelligence reporting is compiled and shared electronically. This allows for faster dissemination of information and ensures that reports reach their intended recipients in a timely manner. Even the President’s Daily Brief has transitioned to electronic delivery during the Obama administration.

How to Write Intelligence Reports: The Three-Part Format

Writing intelligence reports can be simplified by following a three-part format: Information Obtained, Context, and Assessment. This format helps structure the report and ensures that all essential elements are covered.

Part 1: Information Obtained

The first part of the report should provide the new information that has been obtained. It should answer the “who, what, when, where, and why” questions to provide a complete picture of the intelligence. This section should be concise and focus on the key details that are relevant to the report.

Part 2: Context

The second part of the report should provide any additional information that is necessary for the audience to understand the situation or assessment. This may include relevant background information, previous incidents, or any other details that provide context to the intelligence. It is important to present this information in a clear and organised manner to enhance comprehension.

Part 3: Assessment

The third part of the report is the most critical. This is where the intelligence analyst provides their assessment and analysis of the information obtained. The assessment should answer the “so what” questions and explain the implications of the intelligence. It should outline how the new information can affect the situation and what is likely to happen next. The assessment should be well-reasoned, supported by evidence, and provide actionable insights to the decision-makers.

Structure and Format of an Intelligence Report

The structure and format of an intelligence report may vary depending on the organisation and specific requirements. However, there are some common elements that should be included to ensure a comprehensive and effective report. Here is a typical structure of an intelligence report:

  1. Executive Summary (Bottom Line Up-Front)
  2. Information Obtained (Who, what, when, and where)
  3. Context (Other relevant information)
  4. Assessment (So what? What does it all mean?)

The executive summary provides a brief summary of the report, highlighting the key points and main findings. It is designed to give the reader a quick overview of the intelligence without having to read the entire report. The information obtained section provides the details of the intelligence, including the sources, dates, and locations. The context section provides additional information that is relevant to understanding the intelligence, such as previous incidents or background context. Finally, the assessment section provides the analyst’s analysis and interpretation of the intelligence, outlining its implications and potential actions.

Tips and Tricks for Writing Intelligence Reports

Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind when writing intelligence reports:

  1. Timeliness is key: deliver your reports on time, even if they are not 100% complete. It is better to provide an 80% solution on time than a 100% solution too late. You can always update your assessment later as more information becomes available.
  2. Keep it simple: Avoid getting lost in excessive data or providing unnecessary details. Focus on the key points and provide a clear and concise analysis. Decision-makers often have limited time and want the intelligence to be presented in a straightforward manner.
  3. Use images: Incorporate relevant images to enhance the understanding and impact of your report. Images can help break up walls of text and provide visual context to the intelligence. Make sure the images are clear, relevant, and support your analysis.
  4. Edit and revise: Before finalising your report, make sure to carefully review and edit it for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and formatting. Consider sharing your report with a colleague for a fresh perspective and feedback.


Writing intelligence reports that get read and actioned requires a combination of analytical skills, clarity of thought, and effective communication. By following the three-part format and using the provided OSINT report template, you can create concise and influential reports that deliver actionable insights to decision-makers. Remember to focus on the process of intelligence reporting and provide timely and relevant information. With practice and experience, you will develop the expertise to produce high-quality intelligence reports that make a difference.

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