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Formal Report Writing

Reportwritingisanimportantpartofmanyprofessionalandacademicsubjects.Reportsplay anincreasinglyimportantroleintheworkplace,wheretheyareacrucialinstrumentinall businessprocesses.Theyarealsowidelyusedingovernment,technology,healthcare,social services,andmanyotherareas. Whatisaformalreport? Aformalreportisadocumentthatiswrittenfollowingafixedprocedureandisusedto describeaninvestigationandgiveresultsandrecommendationsbasedontheinvestigation. Whatisthepurposeofaformalreport? Thepurposeofaformalreportistoinvestigateaproblemoraneed,findworkablesolutions, andmakerecommendations. Whatarethedifferencesbetweendifferenttypesofreports? Differenttypesofreportsareintendedfordifferentaudiencesandhavedifferentpurposes. Theymaydealwithdifferentkindsoftopics,andthereforeusedifferenttypesofvocabulary. Theymayvarygreatlyinlength.However,thegeneralformofmostreportsissimilar. Whatarethepartsofaformalreport? Title Summary Introduction FindingsandDiscussion Conclusions Recommendations Pleasecontinuetothenextpage...

MiniQuiz Aformalreportrequiresveryclear,conciseandaccurateuseoflanguagetoconveyvery specificinformationtoitsaudience.Therefore,asapretest,selectthemostappropriate formalexpressionforuseinaformalreportfromtheoptionsgivenundereachitem: 1. I_________theinspectortoperformathoroughcheckonthefunctioningof companymachineryandworkstations. a.asked b.talkedto c.requested d.spoketo 2. Extensivesuppliesofspecimens__________________fortestingatthelaboratoriesfor furtherresearch. a.wererequired b.werewanted c.wereneeded d.werebooked 3. Theobjectiveoftheformalreportis______________problemsandtobringout suitablesolutionsandrecommendations. a. tosearchfor b. toinvestigate c. toidentify d. tofind 4. TheCEO___________shortlytodiscussgeneralissuesonimprovingefficiencyin manufacturing. a. comes, b. willsit c. willarrive d. goes 5. Themotiontoreduceworkinghours_______________bythecompanyboard,dueto thefearofadropintherequiredproductionoutput. a. wasnotallowed b. wasdismissed c. waspassed d. wasaccepted

ExampleofaReport A report has a welldefined structure. In the following report, as in most reports, all the partsarenamed.Sectionsandsubsectionsarenumbered. Totheleftofeachsectionisanexplanationofthetypeofinformationandlanguageusedin thatsection. Beginwithaspecifictitle.The SurveyofOverseasStudentsatFestinaLente titleshouldconveyuseful informationaboutthecontentof thereport Thisisfollowedbythename(s) oftheauthor(s),alongwiththe datewhenthereportwas finished. Numbereachsection. 1 Thesummaryisoptional.To writeasummary: 1.Brieflystatetheaimofthe report. 2.Brieflydescribethe methodologyfollowed. 3.Grouptheconclusionsofthe investigationintocategories. Thefollowingpartsarefoundin 2 theintroductionofareport: Whatistobeinvestigated/ aim(A) Whorequestedthereport(R) Whenitwasrequested(D) Whatmethodologyistobe used(M) Theseareknownasthetermsof referenceofthereport.(A),(R), and(D)mayappearinanyorder. (M)isalwayslast.Inthesample reportontheright,theorderof thetermsofreferenceis(R),(D), (A),(M). University:19851999 UniversityMarketingandSurveyCommittee, June10,2000

Summary AreportonoverseasstudentsatFestinaLente Universitywasundertakentodeterminewhat(if any)problemsthesestudentsface.Students weresurveyedonseveralmatters.Ingeneral, studentsexpressedsatisfactionwiththe university;however,afewareasofconcernwere identified. Introduction Thisreportwasrequestedbythepresidentof FestinaLenteUniversityonNovember5,1999.A UniversityMarketingandSurveyCommitteewas formed,consistingofthepresident;thebursar; theregistrar;thedeansofarts,science,and business.Thecommitteewasaskedtosubmitits findingsbyJune15,2000.

Someexpressionscommonly foundin(A): theaimof...isto....,willoutline, wastodetermine...,determine thefeasibilityof...,thepurpose ofisto...,toinvestigate Someexpressionscommonly foundin(R): wasrequestedby,asrequested by,wasinstructed,wasasked, makeappropriate recommendations,...wasaskedto submit... Someexpressionscommonly foundin(D): by(date),onorbefore(date) Someexpressionscommonly foundin(M): wascollected,withdiscussions, wasused,obtain,carryout(a task,etc.),wasundertaken, findings,weresurveyed,the scalewasusedtomeasure..., responseswereidentified, questionnaires,tabulate,noted Tense:Usuallypast.Usepresent tenseonlytodescribe aims/goals. Themainpurposeofthestudyistoexploreways ofattractingmoreoverseasstudentstostudyat FestinaLente.Anadditionalpurposeistohelpto maketheexistingenvironmentmoreconducive tostudyforthesestudents.

Ourmajorsourceofinformationabouttheneeds andwishesofoverseasstudentsatFestinaLente isthestudentsthemselves.Therefore,the committeedecidedtoconstructaquestionnaire, aimedatelicitingrelevantinformationfrom overseasstudentswhohavestudiedatFestina Lentesince1985.Copiesofthequestionnaire areonfilewiththeStudentUnionandthe FacultyOffice,andtheyareavailableforpublic viewing.Atotalof242responseswerereceived, 233ofwhichwereusable.Threehundredand sixtynineoverseasstudentshadbeenenrolled atFestinaLenteduringtheperiodinquestion. Theresponses,therefore,canbetakentoreflect theviewsofasignificantmajorityofthese students.Thequestionnaireincluded24 variables,groupedintofivecategories: a.InformationreceivedaboutFestinaLente beforethestudentsarrivalhere; b.Thestudentsreceptionintothecountryand university; c.ThestudentscoursesatFestinaLente; d.Interactionwithacademicandadministrative staff; e.Learningresources.

Findingsarethefactsthatwere 3 discoveredbyusingthe methodologydescribedinthe 3.1 introduction.Forexample,ifa surveywasused,thefindingsare theresponsestothesurvey.The findingsaregrouped,presented intabularform,orreducedto statisticsforeasyunderstanding. Anexampleofafindingis,Eight percentofallrespondents consideredtheircoursesonthe wholetobeunsatisfactory becausetheywereunableto understandtheirinstructors. Dividecomplexinformation 3.2 logicallyintopartsandnumber eachpartasshown. Thepasttenseisoftenusedin thissectionofthereport,andthe passivevoiceiscommon. Thissectionissometimescalled DiscussionandConclusions. Conclusionsarestatementsof factderivedfromthefindings. Theyareanswerstothe question:Whatistheproblem? Anexampleofaconclusionis, Therearenotenough computersintheheadoffice. Usuallythepresentsimpletense orthepresentperfecttenseis used. 4 Findings BeforearrivalatFestinaLente: Studentswereaskediftheyhadreceived thorough,partialornoinformationaboutthe university,theirchosenprogramofstudy,local culture,andtravelandvisamatters.Results suggestthatinsufficientinformationonlocal cultureandtraditionswasprovidedtostudents beforetheyarrivedhere.Inaddition,some departmentsapparentlysentoutflyersand otherinformationsheetsthatwereinsufficient, incomplete,orunclear. ArrivalatFestinaLente:

Usingascaleofdissatisfied,satisfied,orvery satisfied,studentswereaskedtoratefive differentaspectsoftheirarrivalinthecountry andattheuniversity.Meanresponsessuggest thatlocalfoodandcampusorientationseemto requireimprovement. Conclusions ThissurveyofoverseasstudentsatFestina Lenteoverthelast15yearsshowswhyFestina Lentecontinuestobeasoughtafterplaceof studyforstudentsfrommanycountries. However,twomainconcernshavebeen highlightedbythesurvey:

4.1 4.2

5 Recommendationsare suggestionsabouthowtosolve theproblems.Theyoftencontain thewordshould.Theyanswer thequestion,Whatshouldwe 5.1 dotosolvetheproblem(s)?An exampleofarecommendationis thefollowing:Management shouldinstalleightnew 5.2 computersintheheadoffice. Verbswithshouldappearinthe activevoice(Theuniversity shouldprovideinformation) orthepassivevoice(TheStudent Unionshouldbeasked).

Insomecases,inadequateorerroneous informationhasbeensenttooverseasstudents priortotheirarrivalatFestinaLente. Problemswithhousingandcuisinehavebeen noted. Recommendations Basedonthesurveyresults,thecommittee makesthefollowingrecommendations: Theuniversityshouldprovideinformationon localcultureandtraditionsaspartofthemailing tooverseasapplicants. Itshouldidentifydepartmentswhose departmentalbrochuresandflyersareinneedof updatingorexpansion.

FormalReportLanguage Formalreportsshouldbewrittenusingformallanguage.Canyoureplacetheunderlined wordsinthefollowingshorttextwithmoreappropriatebusinesslanguage? OnJune20th,2004,Ihadtohavealookatcomplaintsaboutthetimekeepingoftheguysin thegeneraloffice.TogetsomeinformationIhadachatwitheachofthe12workers concerned,andwatchedoutfortheirtimeofarrivaloveratwoweekperiod. (Suggestedanswers:investigated,punctuality,staff,obtain,conductedinterviews, employees,noted)

PractisingWhatYouHaveLearned Nowpractisewhatyouhavelearnedaboutreportwritingandthelanguageofformal reportsbyselectingthebestoptionfromeachsetofwordscontainedinsquarebracketsin thefollowingshortreport. [NotethatthisreportdoesnothaveaSummary,sothenumberingbeginswiththe Introduction.] 1 ComplaintsaboutthePoorServiceOfferedbytheLibraryofthe UniversityofBilgewater TheUniversityofBilgewaterLibraryCommittee,September20,1995 Introduction Theobjectiveofthisreportwasto[address,receive,answer]complaintsabout poor service provided by the library and to make appropriate recommendations, as [demanded, requested, recommended] by S. I. Pennington, President, on 25 March 1995. An interview [conducted, was conducted, held] with Mr. Vernon English, Chief Librarian, on 15 March. Questionnaires [were distributed, distributed, sent out] to a crosssection of staffwhousedthelibrarybetween15and20March. Findings InterviewwithChiefLibrarian Staffing: Mr. English has 13 fulltime assistants. Five of these [at the, work the, are employedbythe]collegeonMonday,WednesdayandFridayeachweek.They [work,stay,duties]from25p.m.onthosedays. Equipment: A schedule of current items of equipment and their year of purchase [examined, was examined, is examining.] No problems with this equipment [noted, were noted, can be noted]. However, he requested purchase of additionalequipmentasfollows: 1photocopier 3trolleystotransportbooksaroundthelibrary

2 2.1 2.1.1

2.1.2

2.2 Viewsoftheacademicstaff 22staff[asked,asking,wereasked]tofillinaquestionnaire,20responded.The problemsidentifiedareshownbelow: 2.2.1 2.2.2 2.2.3 3 3.1 3.2 3.3 75%oftherespondentsthoughtthephotocopyingfacilitieswereinadequate. 100%[has,reported,found]difficultyinrecallingbooks. 50%reporteddifficultyincommunicatinginEnglishwithsomelibrarystaff. Conclusions There[are,were,shouldbe]notenoughlibraryassistantstocopewiththeday todayrunningofthelibraryinthemorning. Thepresentphotocopyingequipmentisinsufficient. ThestandardofEnglishofsomelibraryassistantsisnotsufficienttoenable effectivecommunicationtotakeplacebetweenthelibrarystaffandtheacademic staff. There[was,couldbe,is]nosysteminplaceforrecallingbooks. Recommendations Fivenewlibraryassistantsshouldbe[made,recruited,broughtin]toworkfrom 09001400hoursMondays,WednesdaysandFridays. Anewphotocopierandthreenewtrolleys[shallbe,willbe,shouldbe]bought. Thefrontlinestaff[shouldgive,shouldbegiven,shouldbetaken]English classeswhereverneeded. TheChiefLibrarian[shouldbeasked,shouldask,isasking]todeviseand implementarecallsystem.

3.4 4 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4

Basedon:Henry,Alex,&Roseberry,RobertL.(2001).HelpYourselftoEnglishintheBusinessSchool. (2nded.).Ashhurst,N.Z.:One2OneTrainingandConsultancy,bypermissionoftheauthors.