Each and every one of us had to write a report at some point in our lives. But how many types of report writing are there really? Learn the various classifications, so that you know what type you actually need this time.
What is report writing?
Before we start, let’s briefly touch on the definition of report writing. A report is usually a sharp, concise informational document created for a certain purpose and a particular audience.
When it comes to the number of report format types, we have been able to find a classification, according to which there are broadly eight different ways to classify reports. Let’s go through them.
Types of report writing
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Probably one of the most popular classification of report writing format types divides all reports into formal and informal:
- Formal reports have a definite structure, contain lots of details and are written with such a style that eliminates personal opinion or anything else of this sort.
- Informal reports are mostly just short messages written in simple, casual language. You can call an internal memorandum an informal report.
Another classification of report writing divides reports into long and short ones. Now, this might be confusing, as it is easy to understand that a one-page report is short and a thirty-page report is long, but where is the line? When do we say that report stops being short and becomes long? This is a question that can be answered on the case-by-case basis.
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Our third classification recognizes analytical and informational reports:
- The goal of an analytical report is to, for the lack of a better word, report on the attempts to solve a certain problem. This includes feasibility reports, scientific research, real-estate appraisals and more.
- Informational reports are meant for relaying information from one area of a company to another. For example, monthly/annual financial reports belong to informational reports, according to this classification.
According to the fourth classification, reports can be lateral or vertical.
- Lateral reports travel between the units of the organisation that are on the same level (for instance, between finance and production department). They also help to coordinate the work in a company.
- Vertical reports move downward or upward in the company’s hierarchy. They contribute to company’s management control.
The fifth classification separates external and internal reports:
- External reports, such as, for instance, and annual report of a company, is distributed outside of the organisation. These are mostly all formal.
- Internal reports are those that are distributed inside of the organisation. These can be both formal and informal, depending on their particular purpose.
The sixth classification defines periodic reports. This includes monthly, quarterly, yearly reports, as well as any other reports that are regularly scheduled. Most of the time, they are uniform, meaning that every monthly report looks mostly the same as the previous one in terms of structure. They are also usually vertical, as they come from different departments and go towards management.
Seventh classification talks about functional reports. According to it, all reports can be divided by their function. For instance, there are marketing reports, accounting reports, financial reports and so on. That said, one report can have several functions at the same time.
Finally, eighth classification divides all reports by their format. There are broadly four categories in this classification:
- Pre-printed form. This format is used for routine reports, including some periodical reports. They come in a shape of a form with blanks that need to be filled with relevant information. Most of the time, the information is numerical, so one just has to fill in the blanks with numbers and send it on its way. This type of report is formal and mostly short (up to five pages).
- Letter. Letter reports are frequently used when information needs to be relayed outside of the company. They resemble regular letters, but they might also contain figures, tables, headings and footnotes. This type is also usually short, but it is rather informal, as it utilises personal pronouns.
- Memo. This is a short and informal report that is distributed within a company. It features the format of ‘Date’, ‘To’, ‘From’ and ‘Subject’, like most regular memos. Sometimes memos have visual aids or internal headings.
- Manuscript. Manuscripts are usually long and formal reports (even though they can sometimes be short as well). Some can be as long as a few hundred pages. The longer the report is, the more information is required before and after the main text of the report.
To sum up, there are at least eight different classifications of reports that more or less encompass all existing types of reports. Now that you know all about this, you should be able to identify what type of report you need by the task that has been set for you.
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