Reports, in an information age, are essential to business writing and written communications in general.
What makes business reports different from general academic reports is a real-world, practical, problem-centered orientation. The emphasis is placed on brevity, clarity, and functionality.
Reports are varied, each with some typical structural elements.
Includes the following: specification of the problem, the purpose, and the approach you will take in resolving an issue.
Brings a project up to date, often includes the following headings highlighted from the body of the report: status, problems, changes, schedules, and costs.
Is written on a recurring basis, and deals with an on-going situation. Computer printouts are sometimes used.
MEMO OR LETTER REPORT
Is a less formal report on an a limited issue that uses the memo headings and subject declaration to present a specific issue.
The categories included in a report depend on the subject or situation. All reports need to be complete and accurate with informational headings to explain the subject and enable a reader to make a decision.
In detailed, technical reports, for example, among the headings you should probably include are headings similar to the following:
- Theory or background
- Method(s) used
- Results of research
- Recommended action
- Suggested follow-up
In reports where strictly controlled specific research is not required, the organization may resemble that of a memo, and may include the following headings: I Background, II Current situation, III Solution (if applicable) IV Recommendation.
Some informative reports, such as status reports, do not require a recommendation section. Quarterly or annual reports provide a sequential review of a specific time period, and although they may not include a recommendation, they may analyze the meaning of events in the time period covered and suggest future developments. As in any type of communication, format depends on purpose and on the needs of the audience.
Use of headings in long reports are essential. The headings act as an internal outline, showing the reader the importance of each section. Consistency of headings will guide the reader through the categories of your report. Depending upon the level of formality, reports, typically, include some or all of the following eleven parts:
- Letter of Authorization
- Letter of Transmittal
- Table of Contents