Formal and Informal Reports: Summary Sheet
• Made up of preliminary and proper sections. Preliminary=Title Page,
Memo/Letter of Transmittal, Table of Contents, and Executive Summary. Proper
part of the report: INTRODUCTION, RESULTS OF THE STUDY (MADE UP OF
THE RESULTS & DISCUSSION) CONCLUSIONS, and RECOMMENDATIONS
What goes in:
• Background Information
• Purpose statement
• Scope of the study
• Relevance of the study (comparison/contrast of your eight secondary sources in
about three paragraphs of written text. Look for similarities and differences
between the articles; try to compartmentalize the focus of each article so that you
can have something to compare and contrast)
• Definitions (if you are using any)
RESULTS OF THE STUDY
Divided into two parts:
1) Results: Made up of the data that you collected from primary research. This
section often includes charts, graphs, and/or illustrations as well as bullets
2) Discussion: This section interprets and analyses the research findings; it
presents a discussion of your findings and compares those results with your
secondary research. This section is often made up of a number of smaller
sections introduced in the form of talking heading (descriptive headings)
which help the reader navigate from section to section. The discussion does
not focus on all of the material presented in the Results section; it does focus
on what you consider to be the most interesting, important and relevant data
which you collected and from which you can draw reasonable assumptions
based on the secondary research.
This section summarizes the findings in one sentence points. The conclusion repeats,
infers, and pulls together the points made in the RESULTS OF THE STUDY section,
particularly the Discussion. This section does not introduce NEW information.
The section makes specific suggestions about what action to take as a result of the
findings and the discussion. Recommendations are typically numbered for clarity. Some
reports include suggestions for future meetings as well.
Appendix: This section includes at least two parts: Works Cited page (where you list
your secondary sources) and a copy of the survey questionnaire you distributed to the
Informal Reports: Contain all of the necessary parts that formal documents contain; they do not contain
preliminary data (title page, etc.)
Take one of three forms: E-mail, Memo, Letter
Two types of informal reports:
1. Informational Reports: answer questions and provide information without
analysis. Provide information regarding routine activities; the information in
these reports tells readers what they need to know. These reports are
organized into three sections: Introductions, Findings, Summary/Conclusion.
a. Types of informational reports: Periodic report, Situational Report,
i. Periodic Report: Written regularly and describes recurring
activities by recording data and outcomes. Typical in fields such
as education, nursing, health sciences
ii. Situational Report: Written in response to two specific types of
non-recurring situations (1) business trips or conferences and
(2) Progress of a continuing project. Typical headings for
Progress Reports include: Background, Work Completed, Work
to be Completed, Anticipated Problems. Usually close by stating
when the next Progress report is due.
iii. Incident Reports: Documents problems, unusual events,
changes from routine events,. This type of report provides
complete and accurate details of an incident, answering the
questions , Who? When? What? Where? How?
2. Investigative Reports: Evaluates problems or situations and presents facts
based on evaluation. Typically made up of Introduction, Findings,
Conclusions and potentially Recommendations.
a. Three main categories: Recommendation Reports , Justification
Reports and Feasibility Reports
i. Recommendation reports are analytical; they recommend an
action, often in response to a specific problem.
ii. Justification reports are analytical reports that justify the need
for a purchase, investment, policy change, or hiring. The
justification report can be presented directly or indirectly.
1. Direct justification report:
a. Introduces the problem
b. Presents the recommendation, action, or solution
c. Justifies the recommendation by highlighting
advantages and benefits and explaining it in more
detail. This section takes into detail the benefits
and the advantages of applying the
recommendation usually by comparing it to other
potential but obviously not chosen options.
d. Ends with a summary that refers to the action to
2. Indirect justification report: a. Introduces the problem and provide details that
convince readers of its seriousness—do not reveal
b. Discuss other measures or alternatives under
descriptive headings, starting with the least likely
and ending with your recommendation.
c. Show that the advantages of your solution
outweigh the disadvantages.
d. Summarizes the action to be taken and ask for
iii. Feasibility reports evaluate projects or alternatives to determine
if they are worthwhile for the company. The process for writing a
feasibility reports is:
1. Announce the decision to be made and list its
2. Describe the problem necessitating the decision
3. Evaluate positive and negative aspects of the project,
including potential problems
4. Calculate costs and discuss the time frame
General Breakdown of parts of a recommendation and feasibility report
In the introduction, indicate that the document that follows is a feasibility report (or whatever it
is called). Instead of calling the report by name (which might not mean anything to most
readers), you can indicate its purpose.Also, provide an overview of the contents of the report.
For some feasibility reports, you'll also be able to discuss the situation and the requirements in
the introductions. If there is little to say about them, you can merge them with the introduction,
or make the introduction two paragraphs long.
Technical Background. Some feasibility reports may require some technical discussion in order
to make the rest of the report meaningful to readers. The dilemma with this kind of information
is whether to put it in a section of its own or to fit it into the comparison sections where it is
relevant. For example, a discussion of power and speed of laptop computers is going to
necessitate some discussion of RAM, megahertz, and processors. Should you put that in a section
that compares the laptops according to power and speed? Should you keep the comparison neat
and clean, limited strictly to the comparison and the conclusion? Maybe all the technical
background can be pitched in its own section—either toward the front of the report or in an
Background on the Situation. For many feasibility reports, you'll need to discuss the problem,
need, or opportunity that has brought about this report. If there is little that needs to be said about
it, this information can go in the introduction.
Requirements and Criteria.Acritical part of feasibility and recommendation reports is the
discussion of the requirements you'll use to reach the final decision or recommendation. If you're
trying to recommend a laptop computer for use by employees, there are likely to be requirements
concerning size, cost, hard-disk storage, display quality, durability, and battery function. If you're
looking into the feasibility of providing every UofT student with an ID on the UofT computer
network, you'd need define the basic requirements of such a program—what it would be
expected to accomplish, problems that it would have to avoid, and so on. If you're evaluating the recent program of free bus transportation inAustin, you'd need to know what was expected of the
program and then compare its actual results to those requirements.
Requirements can be defined in several basic ways:
• Numerical values: Many requirements are stated as maximum or minimum numerical
values. For example, there may be a cost requirement—the laptop should cost no more
• Yes/no values: Some requirements are simply a yes-no question. Does the laptop come
equipped with a modem? Is the ca