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What is a formal report and how to write it?

Report writing


A formal report is a document that discusses a certain subject or a problem and is written for a specific audience. Let’s consider the definition of report writing. Such a paper presents specific information to the target knowledgeable audience. Here, you have to describe all the points and issues in detail. Formal report formatting and writing may seem hard, but having enough information, you can absolutely do it! And, of course, we will be glad to help you with it.

Elements of formal report

Let’s start with a formal report structure. There is a special formal report outline, which varies in different organizations and facilities. Therefore, understanding how to write a formal report at your current place of work or study might take some time and practicing.

So, what is included in a formal report?

  • Cover letter - is sent to a person who will read the work in order to call for a certain action.
  • Title page - shows the subject of a paper, date of submission, the name of the company, and a few details about the writer.
  • Table of contents - lists the headings and subheadings of the work.
  • Abstract page - briefly states the purpose of formal report writing, as well as the problem or a study, findings, and their importance.
  • Introduction - provides background information on a situation and reasons why the project is necessary.
  • Discussion - fully describes the project or an issue and presents the results and their analysis.
  • Conclusion - examines the results and outcomes.
  • Recommendations - advises on the usage of a report and further actions that have to be taken.
  • Glossary - explains the mentioned terms.
  • References - lists the works cited in the paper
  • Appendix - includes additional materials.

In cases when this document is addressed to someone in the company, it is not necessary to write a cover letter. However, the receiver needs to be notified with a memo, which is quite different from the letter.

Additional materials in appendices are usually explanations or important information, which was not included in the paper for some reason, but plays a great role in the project. Such materials may contain illustrations, graphics, blanks, or even schemes when it comes to technical reporting.

What is the first step in writing a formal report?

There are plenty of things that have to be considered while making a report. You have to understand the purpose of writing and the possible audience. Having this information makes it easier to come up with the message that the work will send and the way this message will be stated. Basically, before writing an actual report, you need to answer four important questions there:

  • What was done and how?
  • What are the results?
  • What conclusions can be made?
  • What needs to be done?

The most essential part of writing is making the document clear for the target audience. Everything needs to be appropriately suited for them to understand a matter of things. The diversity of the possible audience is the main reason why your work should include a glossary and appendices. They help readers who have insufficient knowledge of a topic to gain a better understanding of it, and at the same time not to burden professionals with unnecessary explanations in the main parts.

Formal reports format

There are different formats for each report depending on the subject or sphere. It means that you cannot format formal business report the same as an engineering one. Therefore, before you start writing, research the basics for the type of report you were asked to submit.

Also, the format depends on the establishment you will submit this document to. Once you are assigned to create a report, find out what exactly is required of you, which sections are a must-have, and which parts should not be included under any circumstances.

The significance of formal reporting

It is crucial for every company to keep records of the work that has been done during a certain period. This helps to track the activity and learn from success or failures that have occurred. That is why reports play a great role. They do not just describe problems or projects, but also analyze and evaluate their importance. Therefore, they are not useless piles of papers, but official documents that can be used in a variety of ways.

Such kinds of documents are being prepared due to numerous reasons:

  • A researcher can make a formal report to keep documentation of the evolution of a study and update the progress.
  • Scientists may inform each other on the success of experiments or propose new ways of conducting them.
  • An employee in a big company may point out a specific issue and a solution for it while preparing online business reports.

Regardless of the purpose, such papers are necessary for the proper functioning of any organization. Therefore, it is substantial to take their writing seriously. Reports have to be done according to all requirements and properly cover a topic. This way, they will facilitate and improve the working process of the whole company.

Best tips for writing a formal report

  • Always plan before you start writing. Jot down the main points you want to include and create an outline.
  • Use relevant titles and headings so that your report is easy to navigate and comprehend.
  • Make sure that all the findings are clearly presented and explained. Use visuals whenever necessary.
  • Once you are done writing, proofread your report to be sure that it is free from any kind of mistakes. It is also advisable to edit your paper in a day or two in order to spot more errors.
  • Avoid any stylistically colored language when wiring a formal report. The same applies to slang words or jargon.
  • As soon as you finish proofreading your formal report, ask yourself, “Does it fit the purpose?” If the answer is yes, congratulations! You are now ready for the submission!


Report writing

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