Report is a self-explanatory statement of facts relating to a specific subject and serves the purpose of providing information for decision making and follow up actions. It is a systematic presentation of ascertained facts about a specific event / subject. Report is a summary of findings and recommendations about a particular matter / problem. Report is for the guidance of higher authorities including company executives and directors. Reports facilitate timely decisions and follow up measures. According to Oxford Dictionary, report means "."
Types of Report
Reports are of two types mainly – oral and written. The basis of an oral report depends on the facts seen or observed, and it is a piece of face to face communication. If it is not recorded, it is as transient as any other oral communication. It is time-saving for the reporter, but it is time-consuming for the receiver as the receiver has to listen to every word of the report. On the other hand, a written report is comparatively more precise and permanent. It gives the reader an opportunity to just go through it, or only read the abstract or the conclusions or recommendations of it. It is more formal than an oral report and can be referred to over and over again.
Formal reports vary a great deal according to their purpose, content and significance, and different organizations adopt different ways to categorize them. Some categorize them according to their origin and basis or rate of recurrence, others by their extent or level of formality or objective form. Whatever be the basis of classification, there is one thing common to them – they all follow more or less a similar pattern. We may for our purposes categorize these reports into the following two broad categories:
Both kinds of reports are the result of an analysis, a piece of research, a survey of a situation and an investigation of a problem. An informational report includes only the information collected or the facts and events observed in an organized way. It presents the real circumstances as they are and not as they should be. In general, it does not include any conclusions or recommendations. As it presents relevant information in order, it is more functional and useful to the management. In most cases, it helps them to take quick decisions.
An interpretive report, like an informational report, contains facts but it includes an assessment or explanation or analysis of data and the reporter's conclusions. It may also have recommendations for action. An interpretative report which usually carries recommendations in it is also termed as a recommendation or re-commendatory report.
There are some reports which are written in a prescribed form. In this case the report writer only puts a tick mark against some items which are listed in the form or write very short notes or comments against them. These reports are called routine reports as they are formal by their very nature and carries information and sometimes recommendations as well. These reports are usually written in an organized way and the purpose of such reports is to record routine matters such as writing reports on inspection of equipment, writing periodic reports on the onward position of projects etc. at regular intervals.
The following tree diagram can help to remember the various types of reports that have been mentioned in this writing: