A report — is an important form of business communication.
Is an account of something that happened in the past
Re = back; portare = to carry.
A report = a formal communication written for a specific purpose,
conveying authentic info in a completely impartial/objective manner.
A good report is — (a) well analysed & argued. (b) written in
appropriate & correct English.
3 stages — planning, organizing & writing.
A formal piece of writing
A factual account
Written for a specific purpose
Written in an organized manner
Written for a specific audience
Written in an objective manner
Includes only relevant information
Helps professionals plan, execute, manage & evaluate business
Facilitates the flow of information to ensure smooth execution of
Serves as a record of facts & as a repository of information.
Enables the authorities to take timely decisions.
Helpful in creating awareness among shareholders & other
investors about the market position of the company.
VERSUS WRITTEN REPORTS
Presented face to
Easy for the
speaker Easy for the reader
Ephemeral Permanent record
clarification is possible Not
& reliable More accurate & reliable
& FORMAL REPORTS
Informal style but the content & organization of facts the same
as a formal report.
Fulfills an immediate requirement so shorter than a formal report.
Eg: the report about the current status of production / people in a
particular dept given to the managing director.
Two commonly used informal reports > letter reports & memo
Is a short report using the business letter format.
The business letter format is very important for formal communication.
for writing letter reports.
Should be typed and not handwritten.
Use full block format of business letters in which all lines start
from the left.
Use the company’s letterhead or formal 8 ½ inch by 11 inch/A 4 size
Set your objectives, analyse the facts critically.
Use one or two illustrations to support the analysis.
Use ‘I’ & ‘you’ to maintain informality.
Avoid a bookish / prosaic style.
Include appropriate salutations & a complimentary close.
Ensure that there are no typographical or grammatical errors in the
Maintain proper margin & line spacing.
OF A LETTER REPORT
[Refer to page 248-9 for a sample letter
Memo > also called an inter-office
Is a prescribed form used to send important info within an
Conveys info about routine business matters like sending info from
one dept. to another, announcing a change in policy matters etc.
report > a report that provides facts of routine
nature or deals with a minor problem using the format of the inter-face
E.g.: engineers write memos to their
Memo report should give an account of what has been done
Should describe the important findings and also their significance.
Is circulated within the organization only.
So more informal in style than a letter report.
Length > not more than three typed pages.
Main body m comprises relevant headings like findings,
FORMAT OF A MEMO REPORT
[Refer to page 247
for a sample memo report.]
LETTER REPORT vs MEMO REPORT
Letter reportMemo report
4-5 pages 2-3
Uses letter layout Uses
inter-office memorandum format
Used both for
internal & external communication Only for internal communication
Seriousness of purpose & content
Elaborate data which cannot be informally presented
Three broad categories > I. Routine;
II. Informational; III. Interpretative.
I. Routine reports / periodic reports.
Submitted at prescribed
intervals/weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually.
Present the collected data
& facts in their original form.
Sometimes include brief
Routine reports > five types
1. Progress report> informs the reader about the status/progress of a particular
Gives an account of the various
stages of the project in chronological order & the details of the work
completed & the amount of work yet to be completed.
The work completed must be
evaluated to determine the progress of the project.
Mention can also be made of
special problems likely to arise during the course of the work.
2. Laboratory report >
written by scientists & students of engineering, science, psychology &
those who work regularly in laboratories.
The proforma > the name of
the experiment, the apparatus used, the procedure followed & the findings
Record their experiments &
provide a step-by-step account of the processes to be followed.
Mechanical devices like
computers & laboratory equipment are mentioned before the process is
Findings are put in a logical
order; also a brief summary of the findings.
3. Inspection report > complied only after a thorough investigation of
Helps in checking the quality
of products in a systematic manner.
Ensures the right standard
& smooth functioning of the equipment.
Written in a prescribed pro
forma with columns to indicate the options regarding the quality & operation
of each part of a particular product.
Purpose > to check the
mishandling & poor production of equipment.
Usually submitted to the
executive heads of the maintenance/production/sales departments.
4. Inventory report > computer-generated.
User has to put in the relevant
data about the stock.
Includes statistical details =
the no, amount & type of material required.
Written by the person in charge
of the stocks in a prescribed form & duly signed by him.
Submitted at regular intervals
> weekly/monthly/ annually.
5. Annual confidential
report > submitted annually by the controlling
officers about their subordinates.
Evaluates their work
performance & behaviour.
Determines a professional’s
Important decisions –
promotion, demotion, transfer, termination — based on this report.
Conveys all the details related
to the subject.
Data is collected, arranged in
a proper order & presented as it is without analysing it.
Recommendations are not
Each part prepares the reader
for what is to come.
Discussion of one point must be
complete before taking up another point.
Info report develops an
understanding of the aims, objectives, policies, regulations, problems,
procedures & outlook of a company.
III. Interpretative/analytical/investigative report
Analyses & interprets the
Arrives at some conclusions
Helps the reader analyse,
interpret & evaluate facts.
Very useful & essential in
the professional world because they help in making a decision, solving a
problem, expanding the business etc.
Is more expansive, elaborate.
Varies widely in scope &
But always associated with some
business activity. Like accounting, advertising etc.
Is an integral part of the
USE OF GRAPHIC AIDS
Make the report more interesting & readable.
Give emphasis to the key points.
Supplement the text.
Help in communicating the content of the report.
When & why they are used
When a mass of statistics has to be presented.
When complex ideas have to be explained.
Help to clarify & reinforce the info.
Lend a professional flair to the presentation.
Help in presenting large details with accuracy & in less space.
Make the description clear, vivid & eye-catching.
How to use them
Illustrations should be neat, accurate, self-contained & big
enough to be clearly visible.
Contents should be closely related to the text.
Placed as close to the first reference as possible.
Numbered & captioned > Tables– Roman numerals at the top.
Figures – Arabic numerals at the bottom.
The term figure can be used for graphic aids other than tables.
Refer to pages 253 &254 for examples
TYPES OF GRAPHIC AIDS
Includes rows & columns.
Gives the complete statistical info.
Help us understand the trend/pattern without going through the preceding/following text. (ref table 16.3 page 255).
Closely associated with the preceding/following text.
Cannot be interpreted independent of the text.
Consists of rows & columns.
Uses words & phrases to provide info & not figures (refer table 16.4 page 255)
Photographs, maps, charts & graphs
Graphs = the illustrations that help us to present the data in a colourful & catchy manner.
Help us understand the trends & patterns the report highlights.
PLANNING & PREPARING A REPORT
Defining your objective, scope & purpose.
Formal writing requires solid proof; it cannot depend on assumptions & imagination.
So data collection is very important
Sources for data collection > text books, office records, files, journals, handbooks, manuals, magazines, encyclopaedias, newspapers, government publications, internet, computer databases.
Methods of data collection
Personal observation > when writing a report on an experiment you conducted in a laboratory or on an event you witnessed.
convincing for others
Telephonic interview > when seeking
info of a routine nature & only brief answers are needed from a small
number of people.
Quickest of survey techniques
Low refusal rate
Memory factor eliminated
Low cost occasionally
Approach & questions standardized
Mostly reliable in matters of costly & time-consuming routine
No detailed data available
Little time for orientation & reaction
Not essentially representative
Personal Interview> must be shrewd,
observant & sensitive to the reaction of the person being interviewed.
Quick to readjust your approach & attitude.
Secure a person’s attention, excite his interest & establish a
rapport with him/her.
First, decide on the questions to be asked.
Break the discussion into significant components for easy handling.
Frame the questions accordingly.
This set of questions > an interview sheet.
Non-verbal interpretation possible
Questions can be repeated / rephrased
Useful in market survey
Costly & time-consuming
Prone to discussion
Given to chance & failure
May influence responses
Likelihood of respondents not responding to personal / embarrassing
FOR CONDUCTING PERSONAL INTERVIEWS
Get a prior appointment from the person whom you plan to interview.
Inform him/her about its purpose.
Prepare an interview sheet with at least 10 possible questions.
Be clear about your purpose of collecting data.
Reach the venue on time well dressed.
Carry a pen and a notepad to take down the answers.
Seek permission beforehand to record the interview.
Greet the interviewee warmly, brief him/her about the interview
& then begin the interview.
Show your interest & zeal by listening actively.
Don’t get annoyed when you get confused, but seek clarification in a
Bring the interviewee back to the topic if he digresses.
Don’t ask embarrassing/personal questions.
Don’t get involved in heated / unnecessary arguments.
Always assume a subordinate position as you are seeking a favour
from the interviewee.
Don’t interrupt the respondent unnecessarily.
Thank the interviewee for sparing his time.
Keep the line of communication open as you may need more info later.
questionnaire> the ideal method when a wide
geographical area has to be covered & a large no of people has to be
Covers a wide area
Is specific, accurate & can be processed
Covers a large no of respondents
Is utmost scientific & reliable
No clarification possible
Not necessarily correct
Illiterates cannot answer
Unmilling individuals will not answer
High refusal rate
TIPS FOR PREPARING A QUESTIONNAIRE
1. Basic requirements >
good mailing list, good covering letter & interested respondents.
2. Tips for framing a questionnaire
Set objectives for every
question that you ask.
Be pointed, short & clear.
Figure out possible answers.
Phrase the questions clearly.
Avoid leading & delicate
Avoid long & complicated
Arrange the questions
Don’t ask questions that
require lengthy ans.
Leave enough blank space for
Don’t repeat the questions.
3. Additional tips
Enclose the covering letter
with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Ensure action & be
4. Writing and Revising
Prepare a rough draft with
1st review > concentrate on
blocks of ideas.
2nd review > concentrate on
finer details, syntax & diction.
Write the final report in a
specific form using a style sheet / manual.
5. Preparing an outline
Outline = an arrangement of words / phrases / sentences which
indicate the nature & sequence of topics & subtopics to be discussed in
Outline gives a framework & indicates the pattern of the report.
STRUCTURE OF FORMAL REPORTS
Front matter. Main body & Back matter.
1. Front Matter
a. Cover = a binding / hard cover
Contains important info like the title of the report, report no, if
any, name of the report writer & organization & date.
Use white/neutral (soft) colour.
Keep proper space b/w the different items of info
Use either all capital letters or the first letter of each key word
must be in capitals.
For sample cover ref to page 262.
Title page = is the first right hand page of the report.
Contains additional info along with what is given in he cover of the
Tells the reader about the subtitle of the report, the name &
designation of the authority for whom the report is written & approvals, if
This page should not be crowded with unnecessary info.
For sample title page refer to page 262
c. Frontispiece = the window displays of the whole report.
Comprises artistic drawings, pictures, photographs or maps.
Sole purpose > to arouse the curiosity of the reader about the
contents of the report.
Not normally used in technical reports.
d. Copyright notice = indicates who has the legal rights of the document > the
author or the publisher.
Is always placed on the inside of the title page.
For sample refer to page 263
e. Forwarding letter > forwards a report to the primary recipient of the report.
Two types > covering = a record of transmission of the report;
not bound with the report; does not contain any important info.
Introductory – refers to specific parts of the report; contains
plenty of info; so is usually bound into the report, immediately after the
f. Preface – introduces the report to the readers.
g. Acknowledgements = the names of those people & sources that helped the report
Inserted before the abstract of the report.
Drafting an acknowledgement > categorize the persons whom you
want to acknowledge; express your gratitude using different expressions;
mention why you are indebted to the person.
For a sample refer to page 263.
h. Table of contents / ToC – is an essential element in a long formal report.
It includes the chapter headings & subheadings & their
respective page numbers; so easy to locate specific info.
It serves as a guide to the report.
The decimal numbering system (DNS) is used to prepare the ToC.
Sample ToC in page 264.
i. List of illustrations with page nos when more than 12 illustrations are used in a report.
j. Abstract = a brief write-up on what the report is about & its
accomplishments in 250 words.
It contains relevant info like the main purpose, main design point,
methodology & some eye-catching results to show the significance of the
Sample abstract in page 265.
k. Executive summary – presents the entire report in a nutshell.
Tells the reader what to expect in the report & what the report
It is like a window to a building.
It enables the reader to know the significance & relevance of
It helps the authorities to take decisions to solve the problem
discussed in the study.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ABSTRACT & EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Abstract > very brief, not more than 300 words.
Relevant only when the report is meant for people from the same
field of knowledge.
Presents only the essence of the report.
Cannot help in taking decisions.
Does not include illustrations.
Executive summary > more elaborate.
Meant for readers other than
Presents the entire report in a
Can help in taking quick
decisions, if needed.
May include one or two
2. Main Body
a. Introduction = an
effective curtain-raiser to the content, significance etc. of the report.
It gives the reader a clear picture of the problem and catches
It provides the following elements of info.
Includes the historical/technical background that gave rise to the
Throws light on the exact state of affairs & the factors
responsible for the situation.
Problem statement = specifying what
exactly is the problem you are trying to solve.
Reference to authorization – includes the
person requesting the report & the reference to the
letter/memo/meeting/telephonic conversation held on a specific date by which
the person was asked to submit the report.
Purpose & scope.
Methodology = stating the method/ the
sources used to collect the facts & analyse them.
Basic principles/theories involved
Summary of findings.
General plan of work.
Sample introduction in page
Text is divided into several sections/chapters.
Matter is organized into topics & sub-topics.
Substantial matter is included under each topic/ sub-topic.
Detailed analysis/interpretation is provided.
Recommendations are not inserted.
Illustrations are included to make the analysis clear.
c. Conclusion – draws
inferences in a crisp & tidy manner.
Briefly recapitulates the problem studied, the approach adopted
& the results arrived at.
Can be written either in points or developed in separate paragraphs.
d. Recommendations – state
the actions required to be taken based on the findings & conclusions.
3. Back Matter
Additional charts & graphs can be added.
Contains material closely related to the topic but not absolutely essential.
Provides a proper cross-reference in the text.
Experimental results, detailed calculations, statistical data, sample questionnaire, sample pro forma etc. can be included in the appendix.
Bibliography = an alphabetically list of all the sources such as newspapers, books, magazines, journals, websites, movies etc. made use of to write the report.
List of references — includes the bibliographical details of all the books & sources from which ideas/facts/data have been borrowed.
Footnotes = the small references mentioned at the bottom of the page & a star/asterisk mark is used to draw the reader’s attention.
Glossary = a list of technical terms & words that appear in the text of the report.
They are arranged in the alphabetical order.
Their meaning & explanation are also provided.
Index = the list of various topics, sub-topics & other aspects discussed in the main text.
Serves as a quick guide for the reader to locate any specific idea/concept given somewhere in the main text.
Documentation > an indispensable part of any professional
writing such as proposals, reports & research papers.
Includes how books, anthologies, journals, etc.
are to be cited.
MAJOR DOCUMENTATION STYLES
(Modern Language Association) style
(American Psychological Association) style
for writing a newspaper report
Easy to read; an attractive presentation style.
Provides the answers to the questions WHO,
WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY & HOW?
Headline should catch the reader’s attention.
1st para — gives the main point of the story
& answers the question who.
Succeeding paras — answer the questions what,
when, where, why & how.
Paragraphs should be short & punchy, giving
info clearly and concisely.
References to what people said can be included,
either in direct/indirect speech.
Past tense must be used as the report in about
an event that has already taken place.
For sample reports refer to page 277.
a report from The Hindu by their special
CBI starts inquiry
By our Special
NEW DELHI, AUGUST 21.
a report on a boat tragedy
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2018
KOCHI: At least 25 persons feared dead as
crowded boat capsizes in the Periyar, search for other passengers on. At least
25 people drowned and another 15 were missing when an overloaded boat capsized
in the Periyar on Monday evening.
The dead included men, women and children who
were on their way back from the Ashtami Rohini celebrations at the Sri Krishna
The boat designed to carry 25 people was
carrying at least 45 people when it overturned at 5.30pm.
E mail/electronic mail/paperless communication
Came into existence in the late 20th century
A method of exchanging digital messages across
the internet/other computer networks
One of the quickest ways to communicate in
of an E-mail
Header – shows the sender’s mail ID, the
receiver’s mail ID, the date, time & the subject
Body – is the message, formal/informal; also
contains the complimentary close
mail writing — reasons for popularity
steps to writing an E mail
Have a neutral e-mail address that reflects
Keep the header short & sweet
Avoid an abrupt beginning
Use effective subject lines
Start courteously with a proper salutation
Add a warm up sentence
Avoid use of capital letters all through the
End carefully with a complimentary close
Sign off with your full name
Proofread your e-mail for errors in language
— vocabulary, grammar & punctuation
mail writing — common etiquette
Avoid circulating e mails to everyone
Send the copy of a mail only to those who have something to do with it
Avoid attaching unnecessary files
Answer all queries as exhaustively as possible
It strengthens our professional image & adds to the goodwill of the organization we work for
Constant practice and interest in these skills can make a person
good at it.
Writing is different from these skills.
It is the physical manifestation of language and is an intellectual
All languages serve as tools to express our thoughts, feelings,
ideas and beliefs.
So more effort and dedication are needed to master the art of
Writing requires patience and perseverance.
USE OF WRITING
Writings > four major
PERSONAL WRITING > what we write to
our friends, family, et al.
Expresses our thoughts & emotions.
Suffused with emotions.
Personal choice of words & expressions.
It is warm & subjective.
CREATIVE WRITING > expresses deep
thoughts and imaginative perceptions.
Emotions & thoughts play a pivotal role.
Is imaginative & poetic.
Intense in its appeal & impact.
Literary style = enriched by figures of speech.
So it is delightful as well as instructive.
At times the style is complex and abstract.
BUSINESS WRITING > a clear, precise
and direct form of expression.
Emerges from the requisites in a person’s professional life.
The focus is on facts and data.
So comprises factual descriptions & analyses.
More specific in purpose, objective in tone & formal in
Direct and concrete words.
Unambiguous sentences which are to the point
ACADEMIC WRITING > scholarly &
Elaborate prose style.
Lengthy paragraphs based on wider thoughts and studies.
Makes use of multiple cross-references and citations.
Conveys the idea through domain based terminology.
& ITS FORMS
In certain situations — discussions, writing assignments &
project reports — we have to be brief, clear and precise.
Five forms of condensation
PRECIS — the
most common form to be read and written both by a student & a professional.
Is a short and concise account
of some text.
Purpose – briefly restate the
central idea and the important points (none of the details) of the original
Must observe — the principles
of clarity, coherence, completeness, conciseness, & exactness
– WORKING PRINCIPLES
Be brief and precise > a precis must be concise, precise and focused.
Normal length — 1/3 of the original text.
Be complete > a precis must be as complete and comprehensive as the original
text but in a few words.
All the important points must be incorporated.
Be choosy > only the indispensable part of the original text must be
chosen for the precis.
Discard examples, illustrations, quotations, and similar superfluous
material included in the original text.
Be original > express the author’s view in your own words without distorting/modifying
Neither add your ideas nor omit any important idea of the author.
Be coherent > a good precis must give the author’s ideas in a compact,
complete and coherent way.
Be clear > clarity of expression should not be lost in the zeal to condense
Be original > express the author’s view in your own words without
distorting/modifying it. Neither add your ideas nor omit any important idea of
Be coherent > a good precis must give the author’s ideas in a compact,
complete and coherent way.
Be clear > clarity of expression should not be lost in the zeal to
condense the text
Review & compare > compare your version with the original; count the no of words.
Edit & revise > incorporate all the alterations, modifications you made in the
first draft & shape the final version of the precis.
How you can best improve your English
depends on where you live and particularly on whether or not you live in an
English speaking community. If you hear English spoken every day and mix freely
with English speaking people, that is on the whole an advantage. On the other
hand, it is often confusing to have the whole language, poured over you at
once. Ideally, a step-by-step course should accompany or lead up to this
experience. It will also help a great deal if you can easily get the sort of
English books in which you are interested.
To read a lot is essential. It is stupid
not to venture outside the examination ‘set-books’ or the text books you have
chosen for intensive study. Read as many books in English as you can, not as a
duty but for pleasure. Do not choose the most difficult books you find, with
the idea of listing and learning as many new words as possible; choose what is
likely to interest you and be sure in advance that it is not too hard. You
should not have to be constantly looking up new words in the dictionary, for
that deadens interest and checks real learning. Look up a word here and there,
but as a general policy, try to push ahead, guessing what would mean from the
It is extensive and not intensive reading that
normally helps you to get interested in extra-reading and thereby improve your
English. You should enjoy the feeling which extensive reading gives of having
some command of the language. As you read, you will become more and more
familiar with words and sentence patterns you already know, understanding them
better and better as you meet them in more and more contexts, some of which may
differ only slightly from others.
People living in an English
speaking community learn English faster.
They are in touch with people
who speak English fluently and every day.
Reading English books is
essential for learning English.
We should read books meant for
concentrated study & also those that give us pleasure.
Read books that you like and
Reading must be for enjoyment
& not for increasing your vocabulary.
Reading familiarizes us with
the structure & vocabulary of the language.
— Learning English
Living in an English speaking community
helps to improve one’s English. However, a gradual introduction to the various
aspects of the language is a better way of learning. This is possible through
books prepared for this purpose, which require concentrated reading. Reading
books is essential for learning English. One should read not only text books
but also books for pleasure. These should be in simple language and of one’s
own choice. This reading would be for enjoyment, and not merely for increasing
one’s stock of words. This kind of reading would familiarize the reader with
the usages and grammatical aspects of the language.
SUMMARY – often included in formal reports
Gives in brief the findings of
a study, a journalistic article or a geographical survey.
Avoids examples &
Emphasizes the main arguments
& conclusions of the original work.
Follows the sequence of the
ideas as expressed in the original & detailed work.
ABSTRACT — often preferred to a summary in specialized forms of
Often published along with a
research article in journals & magazines.
Highlights the purpose, scope
& significance of a work.
SYNOPSIS — a condensed & shortened version of an article/research
paper/a chapter of a book/a report/a book itself.
Highlights in brief all the
essential features of the original document.
Is required when researchers
have to submit research proposals/dissertations/theses to universities.
The researcher has to highlight
the purpose, scope & significance of the research in it.
It includes a reference to the
methods adopted for data collection.
It also provides the general
plan of the entire work & tries to establish its importance in the relevant
PARAPHRASING — reproducing the author’s ideas in your own words.
The author’s words can be used.
Paraphrasing of write-ups
conveys in simple terms an idea which appears to be too
ambiguous/philosophical/poetic to follow.
A paraphrased text of a classic
brings the text written in different languages & times to readers who can
follow only a simpler version of it.