A report is a methodical, well-organised document that defines and analyzes a certain issue or a problem. The main purpose of a report is to provide information to its readers. Reports are used in different professions, and there are various types of reports varying according to the purpose. So, we are going to look at different types of report writing in this article. We’ll be focusing our attention especially on the formats of Informal and Formal report.
However, always keep in mind that there is no universally accepted format in report writing. You should follow the format set by your company or course.
The purpose of an informal report is to inform, analyze and recommend. It usually takes the form of a memo, letter or a very short document like a monthly financial report, research and development report, etc. This report is shorter and informal than a formal report. It is written according to organization‘s style and rules but generally does not include the preliminary and supplemental material. The informal report is generally more conversational in tone and typically deals with everyday problems and issues of an organization. Sales reports, lab reports, progress reports, service reports, etc. are few examples of this kind of reports.
An informal report usually consists of
- Recommendations and reference
Mention the general problem first, so that the readers can understand the context. Then state the specific question or tasks arising from the problem that you will be dealing with. Finally, explain the purpose of the essay and its expected results. Since this is an informal and a short report, this part does not need to be long. Two or three sentences will be sufficient.
Present your findings clearly and briefly, in an appropriate method. You can use lists, tables, charts, etc. with adequate explanations. Present your results in descending order of importance. this way, the most important information will be read first. This will be the longest part of your report since this contains the major information.
Conclusions and recommendations:
The conclusion of a report, depending on its intention, should remind the reader what actions need to be taken. Recommendations section might not be needed unless it is requested. It depends on the company’s/organization’s policy.
The purpose of a formal report is collecting and interpreting data and reporting information. The formal report is complex and long, and may even be produced in bound book volumes. A formal letter generally consists of
- Title page
- Executive summary
- Method / methodology
- Results / findings
Title page: Title page should contain the title of the report, name of the author, name of the course (if it is written by a student) or company and date
Executive summary: Executive summary is the summary of the whole report in a logical order. This should highlight the purpose, research methods, findings, conclusions, and recommendations. An executive summary should be written in the past tense and should not be longer than 1 page. Though this section is included in the first part of the report, it is easier to write this part, after completing the rest of the report.
Introduction: The introduction should contain the main problem, its importance and the goals of the research. The background and context of the report are also included in this part.
Method/Methodology: This is the section where you explain the methods used in your research. If it is a scientific research, you can describe the experimental procedures.
Results\Findings: This section presents the results or findings of your project/research. You can also present data using visual methods such as tables, graphs, etc. However, do not interpret the findings here.
Discussion: In this section, you can explain what the above results mean. You can also analyze, interpret and evaluate data, note trends, and compare results with theory. Generally, this is referred to as the most important part of the report.
Conclusions: This is a brief summary of findings. Conclusion should not be confused with Results/Findings section as the conclusion is a simplification of the problem that can reasonably be deduced from the findings.
Recommendations: In recommendation section, suitable changes, solutions should be provided.
Appendices: This contains attachments relevant to the report. For example, surveys, questionnaires, etc.
Bibliography: This is the list of all references cited.