Module 22: Writing Formal Reports
March 24 2012
How should I organize my Time?
- Write pars as soon as you can.
- Spent most of your time on sections that support your recommendations
- Being by analyzing and identifying your purposes and audiences: PAIBOC will help you decide on the
length, structure, organization, content and language of your report.
- Use a timeline to plan work on the whole project; start with your report due dates; and work
backwards, establishing realistic dates for each process and product.
- Draft the important sections early.
Report Body Introduction
- Pulls the reader into the situation.
- Contains a statement of purpose and scope.
o Purpose: Identify the organizational problem the report addresses, the technical investigations
it summarizes, the rhetorical purpose(s): to explain, to analyze, to evaluate, to solve and to
o Scope: Identify the topics the report covers. When you define the scope, you contain the
content of the report: If the report is to examine only advertising, then readers cannot fault the
report for not considering other factors.
o Limitations: Limitations usually arise because time or money constraints3 don’t permit full
research, and such limitations make the recommendations less valid, or valid only under certain
o Assumptions: Assumptions are statements whose truth you assume and that you use to
support your conclusions and recommendations. If they are wrong, the conclusion will be
o Methods: Here writers describe how they found the report data: what they observed, whom
they chose to survey, interview, and how, when and where respondents were interviewed.
Background and History
- Although current audience for the report probably knows the situation, reports are filed and then
- The history section might cover many years or it could be much briefer, covering the immediate
- Findings section of the report provides the proof of your position.
- Here you present the facts, gathered through primary and secondary research to demonstrate that
your conclusions are accurate and your recommendations inevitable.
- Spend most of your time composing, rewriting and revising this section.
- Pay particular attention to the organization: you want to frame the situation, and your solutions, to
influence your readers to your point of view.
How do I draft the Report?
- start in the middle: write the body first, then draft the ending sections; then write the beginning
parts of the formal report: the summary and transmittal. The report ending
Conclusions and Recommendations
- All communication is an act of creation: after all, when we make meaning, we create order out of
- Because formal reports are so lengthy, they use a great deal of repetition for reinforcement.
- Therefore, the ending sections do not introduce any new information; your conclusions and
recommendations concisely and clearly summarize information covered in the body.
- You may present your conclusions in paragraphs or single sentences, depending on how full an
explanation you have offered in the body, and on your reader’s expectations.
- If your readers will find your recommendations expensive, difficult or controversial, give a brief
rationale paragraph after each recommendat