Type of reports

UNIT-7 [ Lesson-1: Type of reports ]

  • After reading this lesson you will be able to:
  • distinguish between two major group of reports
  • explain the nature and purpose of informal reports
  • describe various types of informal reports
  • state the nature of a memorandum, letter form report, prepared form of report and other miscellaneous reports
  • state and write a progress report in memorandum format
  • explain and write any kind of survey reports by using the model survey report presented in the lesson as your guideline.

Type of reports


Reports are categorised according to their purpose and readership. The most simple division is ‘informal’ and ‘formal’. The essential difference between the two types is that the formal or complex reports require some kind of investigation and research, where as the informal one does not. The types of report that you might be writing on any work day will depend upon your reporting responsibilities and specific job performance.


Type of reports


Informal reports

Informal reports vary in length and arrangements. Informal reports are usually written for readers within and among organisations. Most often these reports are quickly prepared, require no extended planning and contain little background information.

Also the informal reports are written without any supplements (abstracts, title page, glossary, etc.) and can have a variety of formats. Usually they range in length from one sentence to several pages.

The purpose of informal reports is to communicate precisely and rapidly in any one of these formats: The memorandums, the letter form, and the prepared form report, or a variety of other formats that fit into none of the above three categories and which are called miscellaneous reports. The informal reports are the kind most regularly written and read in the working world to keep the companies moving.

Your worth as an effective communicator will depend on how well you can convey what you know. Your success on the job may depend onyour skill in sharing useful information with colleagues. Here are some
of the informal reports that you might write on any work day;

  • a report of your progress on a specific job assignment
  • a report of your inspection of a site, item, or a process
  • a cost estimate for planning, material, labour, or a new project
  • an hourly or daily account of your work activities
  •  a proposal outlining the reasons and suggesting a plan for a new project
  • a statement of reasons for equipment malfunction or failure to meet the deadline
  • a record of the minutes of a meeting
  • a report of your survey to select the best prices, material, equipment, or service among those offered by several competing firms
  • a voucher detailing your travel expenses
  • a set of instructions for one or more subordinates
  • a request for assistance on a work project
  • a memo describing a change in the company’s personnel policy (promotion, leave, etc.)

Most often these reports may be cast in a number of different forms but in any case you have to create a professional format: words on the page, indentation, margin, spacing, type space, numbering, headings and division of report section.

In fact, format is the mechanical arrangement of words on the page and determines the physical appearance of your report. Also whether your informal report, data is in the letter form, prepared form, or in the memorandum format, or in some miscellaneous format, will depend on your purpose and reader’s needs. In style informal report is personal and relaxed. The first person-I or we is used here.

What is a memorandum?

A memorandum is the most common form of in-house communication. Sometimes the same information you cast in a memo to a superior will be incorporated in a letter to a client outside the organisation. Memos cover any topic important to a firm’s operations. The most common types include informational, recommendations, justification, progress reports, periodic survey, credit and market reports as well.

The standard memo has a heading that names the organisation, identifies the sender, recipient, subject, and date. Its text follows an introduction- body-conclusion structure. First, identify your purpose for writing the memo next, give the information related to your purpose, finally, conclude with a request, recommendation, or an offer of further assistance.

When you need a second page don’t forget to list the recipient’s name, the date, and the page, and after that you can begin your text three spaces below. (example given in Unit-2, Lesson-2)


Type of reports
A format of a Memorandum


Here is an informal report cast in memorandum format. Like all examples use it as a guide only, don’t follow it word for word. Again don’t forget that the format, organisation you choose must fit your purpose, readers, and situation.


Date : April 20, 1995
From : Suraiya Zafar
To : Dr. Enamul Haque
Subject : Evaluation of the Environment Protection Department’s
(EPD) Remedial Action Master Plan

Work Completed

February 23 : Began general research on the BLI contamination of the local area.

March 8 : Decided to analyse the Remedial Action Master Plan (RAMP) in order to determine whether residents are being studied to death by the EPD.

March 9-19 : Drew a map of that area to show places of contamination. Obtained the RAMP from Imran Ali of the EPD.Interviewed representative Mr. Khan briefly over the phone. Made an appointment tointerview others on April 10, 1995.Interviewed Pervin Choudhury, Executive Director of the New Dhaka Environment Club, briefly over the phone.

March 24 : Obtained public comments on BLI’s (Bangladesh Leather Industries) reaction to RAMP.

April 13 : Searched Mr. Azam’s office files for information. He is the project officer of EPD.

Work in Progress : Contacting by telephone the people who commented on the RAMP

Work to be Completed :

April 25 : will finish contacting commentators on the RAMP.

April 26 : will interview an EPD representative about the complaints that the commentators raised on the RAMP.

Date for completion : May 4, 1995

Complications : The issue of BLI (Bangladesh Leather Industries) contamination is complicated and emotional. The more I uncovered, the more difficult I found it to remain impartial in my research and analysis.
Lastly, the people I want to talk to do not always have the time to find the answers for my questions. Everyone I have spoken with, however, has been interested a encouraging, if not always informative.

Functions of Memo Reports

Most “Memo Reports” written in business perform the following functions:

1. Maintain a flow of information across the levels or ranks of the organisation-from supervisor to supervisor, from vice president of sales to vice president of production.
2. Send information up and down within an organisation.
3. Serve as a reminder and maintain a permanent record of meetings changes and procedures.


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Reports are mainly of two types: Informal or short reports which require no extended planning and contain varieties of formats and formal or long complex reports with supplements addressed to the secondary readers.


Detailed information on theletter form of reports has been given in Unit 2 of this book.


To have a smooth, clear- cut communications many companies, firms, use prepared forms for short reports. These forms are useful in two ways:

1. Prepared forms provide clear guidance for recording data. If you can fill in the form correctly, you are sure to satisfy your readers’ needs.

2. In a prepared form, identical categories of data are recorded in identical order, so it allows for rapid processing and tabulating of data. Also a prepared form standardise data reported from various sources.

There are countless prepared forms for countless purposes. Below is a sample of a questionnaire used by a police officer to obtain the precise description of a suspect. As a witness provides details, a police artist converts the word picture into a sketch with the help of such descriptive questionnaire. Example No. 1


Type of reports


Type of reports
A Sample of A Prepared Form of Report-2



Miscellaneous reports are usually written for assorted purposes that don’t fit our previous classifications. If you are writing a lab report it may require you to invent a suitable format. When creating a suitable format for a miscellaneous report, organise the information to answer the questions readers are likely to ask. Use topic headings to guide them.

One common example of a miscellaneous report is, minutes of a meeting which follows fairly standard conventions but can have varieties of contents. Besides being purely informative as in the minutes of a meeting, miscellaneous reports can offer recommendations too (as in the next sample).

A. Preliminary Marketing and Research Report

Miscellaneous reports can deal with any aspect of an organisation’s operations. The following report in figure No. 4 was written to explore ways of marketing BRMDC’s Strategic Planning Game (a computer assisted package for management training)


Type of reports
A miscellaneous report


What is a survey report?

Brief survey reports are often used to examine the conditions that affect an organisation or a company or a firm (consumer preferences, available markets etc.).

The following survey report cast in memorandum format from the research director for a south eastern grain distributor, gives clear and specific information directly. Notice that an explanation (background information) of how and where these data were obtained is absent in the report as these are insignificant as to the purpose of the writer. To simplify interpretation of data, the writer arranged them in a table.

Data : June 2, 1995
To : Mr. Atiur Rahman Miah
From : M. Khan, Research Director
Subject : Food-Grain Consumption Bangladesh 1979-82
Here are the data you requested on May 9 as part of your division’s annual marketing survey.


Type of reports


Questions for Review

These questions are designed to help you assess how far you have understood and can apply the learning you have accomplished by answering (in written form) the following questions:

1. Define informal reports with an example.
2. What does a standard memo do? Does it follow any regular format?
Answer yes or no.
3. What are the three usual formats of informal reports?
4. What are miscellaneous reports?
5. What is a survey report?
6. What are the advantages of prepared form of report?

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