A report is written for a clear purpose and to a particular audience. Specific information and evidence are presented, analyzed and applied to a particular problem or issue. The information is presented in a clearly structured format making use of sections and headings so that the information is easy to locate and follow.
When you are asked to write a report you will usually be given a report brief which provides you with instructions and guidelines. The report brief may outline the purpose, audience and problem or issue that your report must address, together with any specific requirements for format or structure. This guide offers a general introduction to report writing; be sure also to take account of specific instructions provided by your department.
Characteristics of Report
- Complete and Compact Document: Report is a complete and compact written document giving updated information about a specific problem.
- Systematic Presentation of Facts: Report is a systematic presentation of facts, figures, conclusions, and recommendations. Report writers closely study the problem under investigation and prepare a report after analyzing all relevant information regarding the problem. Report is supported by facts and evidence. There is no scope for imagination in a report which is basically a factual document.
- Prepared in Writing: Reports are usually in writing. Writing reports are useful for reference purpose. It serves as a complete, compact and self-explanatory document over a long period. Oral reporting is possible in the case of secret and confidential matters.
- Provides Information and Guidance: Report is a valuable document which gives information and guidance to the management while framing future policies. It facilitates planning and decision making. Reports are also useful for solving problems faced by a business enterprise.
- Self-explanatory Document: Report is a comprehensive document and covers all aspects of the subject matter of study. It is a self-explanatory and complete document by itself.
- Acts as a Tool of Internal Communication: Report is an effective tool of communication between top executives and subordinate staff working in an organization. It provides feedback to employees and to executives for decision making. Reports are generally submitted to higher authorities. It is an example of upward communication. Similarly, reports are also sent by company executives to lower levels of management. This is treated as downward communication. In addition, reports are also sent to shareholders and others connected with the company. It may be pointed out that report writing/preparation acts as a backbone of any system of communication.
- Acts as Permanent Record: A report serves as a permanent record relating to certain business matter. It is useful for future reference and guidance.
- Time Consuming and Costly Activity: Report writing is a time consuming, lengthy and costly activity as it involves collection of facts, drawing conclusion and making recommendations.