Reports are well researched, planned and organized documents that are written for a purpose. A report is written for a specific audience; it must always be accurate and objective. It is a concise document based on research that typically analyses a situation and sometimes makes recommendations.
All your facts and information presented in the report not only have to be bias-free, but they also have to be 100% correct. Proof-reading and fact-checking is always what you do as a thumb rule before submitting a report. In many cases, what’s required is your suggestions for a specific case after a factual report. That depends on why are you writing the report and who you are writing it for in the first place. Knowing your audience’s motive for asking for that report is very important as it sets the course of the facts focused on your report.
Formal reports are meticulously structured. They focus on objectivity and organization, contain deeper detail, and the writer must write them in a style that eliminates factors like personal pronouns.
Informal reports are usually short messages with free-flowing, casual use of language. We generally describe the internal report/memorandum as an informal report.
Informational reports provide information, facts and data without evaluation and recommendation, and without giving a conclusion. Informational reports can be formal or informal, and the report examples include meeting minutes, expense reports, and progress reports.
The analytical report provides the same information as informational but also include the analyses of the problems and provide possible solutions. Analytical reports can also be formal or informal, and the examples include annual reports, audit reports feasibility report, justification report, and closure reports.
An internal report stays within a certain organization or group of people. In the case of office settings, internal reports are for within the organization.
We prepare external reports, such as a news report in the newspaper about an incident or the annual reports of companies for distribution outside the organization. We call these as public reports.
This is about the hierarchy of the reports’ ultimate target. If the report is for your management or your mentees, it’s a vertical report. Wherever a direction of upwards or downwards comes into motion, we call it a vertical report.
Lateral reports assist in coordination in the organization. A report travelling between units of the same organization level (for example, a report among the administration and finance departments) is lateral.
Periodic reports are sent out on regularly pre-scheduled dates. In most cases, their direction is upward and serves as management control. Some, like annual reports, is not vertical but is a Government mandate to be periodic. That is why we have annual or quarterly or half-yearly reports. If they are this frequent, it only makes sense to pre-set the structure of these reports and just fill in the data every period. That’s exactly what happens in most cases too.
These kinds of reports are like an extension to the analytical/problem-solving reports. A proposal is a document one prepares to describe how one organization can provide a solution to a problem they are facing. There’s usually always a need to prepare a report in a business set-up. The end goal is usually very solution-oriented. We call such kinds of reports as proposal reports.
These kinds of reports include marketing reports, financial reports, accounting reports, and a spectrum of other reports that provide a function specifically.
Statutory reports are mandatory reports and companies are required by law to submit financial information to specific government agencies. Statutory reports have to be prepared according to the structure and rules that are already defined for these types of reports.
Non-statutory reports are not required to be submitted by a law. These are either formal reports submitted to the higher up in rank or informal for administrative use.
Annual report, as the name suggests, are yearly reports. The report is based on yearly data, sales, and profit. An annual report is submitted at the end of every year for the decision-makers to study and plan accordingly.
General or Confidential Reports
Business reports can either be general or confidential. A general report is for the inside of an organization use or press or public. A confidential report is not for many people and is reserved for some important figures in the organization.
Long and Short Reports
These kinds of reports are quite clear, as the name suggests. A two-page report or sometimes referred to as a memorandum is short, and a thirty-page report is long. Usually, longer reports are generally written formally.