Business Reports

In this article we are trying to make the readers understand what a report is and how it is different from other forms of communication.

The word ‘report’ is derived from the Latin “reportare” which means to carry back (re = back + portare = to carry). A report, therefore, is a description of an event carried back to someone who was not present on the scene. Thus in a broad sense, many memorandums, letters and news items are reports. When an instructor prepares a list of absent students or an analysis of an examination result, or when a technician fills in a form the readings taken from a measurement instrument, he is writing a report. But the types of reports we are interested in are those which scientists, engineers, business executives and administrators have to write as part of their duty. These relate either to the work they have done or to the activities of the organizations they belong to. Such reports are the result of careful investigation, sound thinking, logical organization and clear writing and they are presented in a conventional form sanctioned by long and varied experience.

A number of writers have made an attempt to answer the question ‘What is a report’? Let us consider some of these:

* In a very general sense a report is an account of something… (It) is usually an answer to a question or a demand from some other person for information.

* A formal report presents in organized form the information that has been requested by an authorized person.

* A report is a communication from someone who has information, to someone who wants to use that information.

* A technical report is a written statement of the facts of a situation, project, process or test; how these facts were ascertained; their significance; the conclusions that have been drawn from them; the recommendations that are being made. (Note: Recommendations are not required in all cases).

What are the essential points implied in the above definitions? Let us first list them and then attempt to construct a definition:

1. A report is a formal statement of facts or information or an account of something.
2. It is presented in a conventional form.
3. It is written for a specific audience.
4. It includes information about the procedure of collecting data and the significance of such data.
5. It contains conclusions reached by the writer.
6. It often includes recommendations.

Keeping in view the above points we may define a report as follows:

A report is a formal communication written for a specific purpose; it includes a description of procedures followed for collection and analysis of data, their significance, the conclusion drawn from them and recommendations if required.