Types of Short Reports
Much on-the-job writing consists of reports. An informal report, normally no longer than a few pages, may take the form of a memo that circulates within the organization or a letter that is sent outside the organization. Common types of reports are described below.
• Trouble reports, the records of accidents, breakdowns, or work stoppages, are usually written as memos. The writer should identify the precise time and place of the trouble, any injury or property damage involved, and any expenses that resulted from the incident. The report should continue with a detailed analysis of the likely cause of the accident or breakdown and conclude with a statement of what is being done or will be done to prevent a recurrence of the incident.
• Investigative reports present data that the writer has gathered. An investigative report, ordinarily in memo format, opens with a statement of the information the writer has sought and goes on to define the extent of the investigation. The report then presents the writer's findings and an interpretation of them, if such an analysis is appropriate. The report ends with conclusions and may include recommendations.
• Progress reports inform the reader of the status of an ongoing project, frequently one that lasts a long time. Progress reports issued at regular intervals are called periodic reports. By stating precisely what work has been done and what work remains to be completed, progress reports alert readers to necessary adjustments in scheduling, budgeting, or work assignments.
• Trip reports, generally memos submitted to the writer's immediate superior following a business trip, include the destination and the dates of the trip in the subject line. The body of a trip report explains the purpose of the trip, whom the writer visited, and what he or she accomplished. Any conclusions and recommendations the writer wishes to present are included at the end of the report.