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Report Writing

Report types

A short report to a client may use a letter format Formal reports may contain formal elements such as a title page, a transmittal, a table of contents, and a list of illustrations Informal reports may be letters and memos or even computer printouts of production or sales figures Reports can be called:
Information report if they collect data for the reader: Sales report, Quarterly report, Analytical report if they interpret data but dont recommend action: Annual reports, audit reports, make-good or pay back reports. Recommendation report if they recommend action or solution: Feasibility reports, justification reports, problem-solving reports

Report Structure

Cover Title page Letter of transmittal Table of contents List of illustrations Executive summary Report Body
Introduction Background (History of the problem) Body Conclusions Recommendations; Notes References; Work cited


Title Page

Contains the following items:

Title of the report Whom the report is prepared for Whom it is prepared by The release date

The title should be detailed The release date is normally the date the report is scheduled for discussion.

Letter or Memo of transmittal

Letter of transmittal if you are not a regular employee; a memo if you are an employee Organize the transmittal in the following way:
Tell when and by whom it was authorized and the purpose it was to fulfill Summarize your conclusions and recommendations Mention and points of special interests in the report Point out any additional research that is necessary Thank the reader for the opportunity to do the work

Table of contents and Illustrations

Table of contents lists the headings exactly as they appear in the body of the report If report is less than 25 pages you may list all the levels in the report In a very long report pick a level and put all the heading on that level A list of illustrations enables readers to refer to your visuals
Tables are words or numbers arranged in rows and columns Figures are everything else Tables and figures are numbered independently

Executive Summary

An Executive summary or Abstract tell the reader what the document is all about It summarizes the the recommendations of the report and the reasons for the recommendation or describes the topics the report discusses and indicates the depth of the discussion A good abstract is easy to read, concise and clear. Using you sparingly For experimental research: the purpose of the research, its hypothesis, the experimental method, the significant results, the implication for treatment, action or further research. Descriptive abstract indicate what topics the article covers and how deeply it goes into each topic, but does not summarize what the article says about each topic

Introduction & Background / History

The introduction of the report always contains a statement of purpose and scope and may include all of the parts in the following list:
Purpose Scope Limitations Assumptions Methods Definitions

Background of the situation or history of the problem Enable later audiences to understand the basis of the report

Conclusions & Recommendations

Conclusions summarizes points you have made in the body of the report Recommendations are action items that would solve or ameliorate the problem The sections are often combined if they are short No new information should be included in the conclusions Conclusions are usually presented in paragraphs; you could also use a numbered or bulleted list Number the recommendations to make it easy for people to discuss them

Time table for writing reports

To use time effectively, think about the parts of the report before you begin writing Much of the introduction comes from the proposal with minor revisions You can write six sections even before youve finished your research: Purpose, Scope, Assumptions, Methods, Criteria, Definitions The background reading for your proposal can form the first draft of your list of references Save a copy of your questionnaire or interview questions to use as an appendix

Timetable for writing reports

You can write the title page and the transmittal as soon as you know what your recommendations will be After youve analyzed your data, write the Executive summary, the body, and the conclusions and recommendations. Prepare a draft of the table of contents and the list of illustrations When you write a long report, list all the sections (headings) that your report will have Write the important sections early to get to the meat of the report. The background, etc. can wait

Less formal report structure

Title page Table of contents Abstract / Executive summary Body:

Introduction Body Conclusions Recommendations

Informal report structure

Introduction Body Conclusions Recommendations

Business Writing

Written communication serves as a record, which follows spoken communication You can refer to the material at a later stage Since in written communication there may be no face-to-face interaction, there is a possibility that there could be some misunderstanding

Principles of written communication

1. 2.



Orientation to the receiver: The recipient should be kept in mind while writing. Use appropriate vocabulary and jargon. Use short and simple vocabulary: Use short words, which are simpler, in preference to long words Use specific words to bring vitality and exactness: dont use ambiguous words Use active voice in preference to passive voice: Active voice conveys force and focus. Passive voice conveys halfheartedness and defensiveness Use action words: Conveys the force of your personality and your sense of purpose


7. 8. 9.


Be brief: Verbosity conveys a poor impression to the reader. Managers dont have time to go through long winded letters. You need good vocabulary Prefer short sentences to long, compound and complex sentences: Use gender unbiased words: Use plural or the work or or /. Use proper sentence design: In oral communication, emphasis on a particular word changes the meaning. The emphasis on each of the words have a particular meaning. E.g. I never said that. Flow: the structure of correspondence should be cohesive and smooth flowing. Sentences must blend into paragraphs, etc.

11. Sentence: each sentence should convey a single thought. This provides clarity. 12. Paragraphs: Each paragraphs discusses an idea, which could comprise a number of thoughts. A group of paragraphs can further discuss a group of topics 13. Consistency and continuity: Each correspondence should deal with only one subject. 14. Linkages: There must be a smooth flow of ideas and each idea must merge into the next in an effortless and seamless manner. Therefore, each paragraph should end in such a way that the next paragraph appears logical.