Writing Formal Reports in Business Xakema Henderson
What is a formal business report? A formal report is a written account of a major project –something you did, discovered, or organized. The audience may be managers, co-workers, or someone from outside your organization. Formality, accuracy, and ethical standards should be maintained because reports can be used in court cases and other situations.
Get it together Writers of formal business reports do have to cite sources, so they must devise a system to keep track of reading, interviews, emails, conversations, visuals—anything that contributed to the final product should be credited.
Format Often a business will prescibe a format for publications such as formal reports. Usually, there are 3 main parts: Front Matter Body Back Matter Use headings to help readers navigate.
Front Matter Must include: Cover Title page Abstract Table of contents If necessary…
List of figures
List of tables
List of abbreviations & symbols
Addressed to others researching the same topic; key words help researchers find it in databases
Highlights major points so that readers can decide if they want to read the entire report
About 250 words in length
The following four can be used as a road map for composition:
Purpose Scope/Methods Results Recommendations
Body Sections Executive summary (not always included) Introduction Procedures (Methods) Results or Discussion Conclusions Recommendations Works Cited
Executive Summary An executive summary is like abstract, but longer, up to 2 pages. It provides information in abbreviated form for busy decision-makers. It highlights a project’s benefits or sells the project. It should cover costs and benefits or anything decision makers must know. It can exclude the details of methods, results, problems encountered but solved, etc.
Introduction Tells the reader about the project or study Includes the purpose Includes the scope (how broad was the project?) May repeat some of what was previously stated in the abstract or executive summary
Procedures Lets readers know how data was obtained or what procedures led to a conclusion
The study may have required only a review of existing literature, which should be outlined. If it required surveys, interviews, or product testing, this section should explain how research was set up so others can evaluate the quality of the data.
Results or Discussion Narrates what was found Connects the data to the purpose and findings Includes visuals where efficient or effective to show large amounts of data (Data not related to the conclusions goes in an appendix.) Includes limitations, need for further research, problems
Conclusions Conclusions are the implications drawn from the main ideas.
What is the significance of the project or study?
What are the recommendations, if any?
What course of action needs to be taken? What benefits come from this project?
Bibliography or References List of ALL sources that were consulted and/or cited (If the writer looked at them and got ideas or background from them, they were consulted.) Documentation style depends on the field
ME, ME , ME!!! When the report is a written account of a project performed by the author first person (I) can be used Must be objective and procedural No anecdotes No subjective implications i.e. “I think”
References Alred, Gerald J., Brusaw, Charles T., Oliu, Walter E. Handbook of Technical Writing. Boston: Bedford, 1996. Markel, Mike. Technical Communication. Boston: Bedford, 2001.