Informal Reports

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INFORMAL
REPORTS
DEFINITION
and
EXAMPLES
2
I. DEFINITION
Informal Reports

Length:

A document that contains 2-5 pages of text


Content:



More substantive than a simple Letter or Memo
But less substantive than a Formal report
Audience:


For an external or internal audience
Directed to readers within & outside the company

3
not including attachments

Internal = “Memo Report”
External = “Letter Report”
I. DEFINITION


MEMO REPORT
internal
examples at McDuff





need for testing equipment
personnel problem
need for drafting tables
progress in hiring
minorities
report on training session


LETTER REPORT
external
examples at McDuff







4
training
recommendation
Seafloor study
marketing study
marketing report
asbestos project
environmental study
equipment design
project
I. DEFINITION
Informal Reports vs. Letters, Memos, Emails

Informal Reports =



5
more length (longer)
more substance
more organizational skills
I. DEFINITION

Purpose:

To inform


To persuade


6
to clarify, explain
to convince, sell
To inform AND persuade
I. DEFINITION

Examples:

Problem Analysis


Recommendation Reports




summary of work
Lab Reports

7
objective data
Progress Reports/Periodic Reports


objective & subjective
facts & opinions
opinions = supported with facts
Equipment Evaluation


objective
procedure, problem, results, implications, …
GENERAL
GUIDELINES
8
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
(7)
(8)
(9)
(10)
9
Plan well before writing
Use Letter or Memo Format (but…)
Make text visually appealing
Use the ABC Format for organization
Use an “Introductory Summary”
Put important details in the Body
Separate fact from opinion
Focus attention on your Conclusion
Use Attachments for less important details
Edit carefully
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(1) PLAN well before Writing



Complete the Planning Form
Purpose
Reader Analysis:


10
who they are, their roles, their needs
Outline of main points
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(2) Use LETTER or MEMO Format (but…)
Letter Report = Letter


produced on letterhead
on all pages (except p.1)

reader’s name

date

page numbers

Letter Report vs. Letter
Greeting =



“Report Title” =





immediately after the inside
address
spacing

11
replaced by “Attention Line”
when sending to multiple
readers
between lines
1, 1.5, 2
depending on reader’s
preference
see p.280
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(2) Use LETTER or MEMO Format (but…)


Memo Report = Memo
date/to/from/subject lines
on all pages (except p.1)









attention-grabber
glimpse at topic and
concise & specific writing


longer
more headings
spacing

Subject Line with

12
reader’s name
date
page numbers

Memo Report vs. Memo
Memo Reports =
between lines
1.5 or 2
see p.282
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(3) Make Text VISUALLY APPEALING



13
frequent use of Headings & Subheadings
Bullets for short lists
Numbers for long lists
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(4) Use the ABC Format for Organization

ABSTRACT


14
encapsulated info for “decision-makers”
purpose + highlights
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(4) Use the ABC Format for Organization

BODY



15
details, details, details
supporting evidence
for “technical readers”
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(4) Use the ABC Format for Organization

CONCLUSION

description or list of




16
findings
conclusions
recommendations
for “decision-makers”
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(5) Use an “INTRODUCTORY SUMMARY”
(Call the Abstract an Introductory Summary)

Length



1-2 pages
not long, not drawn out
Location

Letter Reports


Memo Reports
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17
I.S. comes immediately after the Title
I.S. comes immediately after the Subject Line
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(5) Use an “INTRODUCTORY SUMMARY”
1.
Purpose Statement


2.
Scope Statement


3.
the range of the data contained therein
the scope, the gist
Summary


18
purpose of the report
Why are you writing this report?
of essential information
stress the crucial info the reader wants/needs to know
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(6) Put Important Details in the BODY

Headings


19
at least 1 heading per page
new point = new heading
 (or, new point = new subheading)
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(6) Put Important Details in the BODY

Lead-In Passage



precedes subheadings (before the 1st subheading)
mention the subsections to follow
Microcosm = Macrocosm




20
Lead-In Passage = Abstract, Introductory Summary
sets the scene, acts like a road map
“This section covers the three phases of…”
Deduction

move from the General  Specific

main idea comes 1st
1.
Topic Sentence with the main idea
2.
Supporting Details – evidence, proof, stats
* (Rule of Firsts & Lasts: beginnings & endings)
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(7) Separate FACT from Opinion

Findings



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21
facts you uncover
observations
primary evidence
opinion = NOT part of Findings
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(7) Separate FACT from Opinion

Conclusions



Recommendations

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22
ideas or beliefs you develop based on your Findings
opinion = part of Conclusions
suggestions or action items based on your Conclusions
opinions = almost exclusively make up these
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(8) Focus Attention on Your CONCLUSION

Conclusions


23
“Conclusion” or “Conclusions” or “Closing”
“Recommendations” or “Conclusions and
Recommendations”
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(8) Focus Attention on Your CONCLUSION

Conclusions


a.
b.
24
Rule of Firsts & Lasts, Beginnings & Endings,
major findings, conclusions, or recommendations
restate briefly if made in the Body
go into detail if led up to this section
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(9) Use ATTACHMENTS for less important Details

Attachments


tables & figures
costs


25
don’t bury these important figures
these attachments will be copied, circulated
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(10) EDIT CAREFULLY

PROOFREAD!!


KISS:



26
short & simple sentences
Double-Check


especially personal names
figures
check Parallel Structure of Headings/Subheadings
have it reviewed by a colleague
II. GENERAL GUIDELINES
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
(7)
(8)
(9)
(10)
27
Plan well before writing
Use Letter or Memo Format (but…)
Make text visually appealing
Use the ABC Format for organization
Use an “Introductory Summary”
Put important details in the Body
Separate fact from opinion
Focus attention on your Conclusion
Use Attachments for less important details
Edit carefully
SPECIFIC
GUIDELINES
28
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
TYPES of INFORMAL REPORTS
A. Problem Analyses
B. Recommendation Reports
C. Equipment Evaluations
D. Progress and Periodic Reports
E. Lab Reports
29
PROBLEM
ANALYSES
30
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
A) PROBLEM ANALYSES

detailed description of problems in





31
personnel
equipment
products
services …
internal or external
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
A) PROBLEM ANALYSES

information/data =



opinions =


32
objective
presented so the reader can make decisions
clearly separated from fact (duly noted)
well-supported by facts
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
A) PROBLEM ANALYSES

ABC Format

Abstract


33
purpose of writing
summary of problems covered
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
A) PROBLEM ANALYSES

ABC Format

Body




34
background on source problems
well-organized description of the problems observed
data that support your observations
consequences of the problems
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
A) PROBLEM ANALYSES

ABC Format

Conclusion



35
brief statement of main problems
degree of urgency required to handle problems
next step suggestions
RECOMMENDATION
REPORTS
36
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
B) RECOMMENDATION REPORTS

specific suggestions regarding




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37
personnel
equipment
procedures
products
services …
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
B) RECOMMENDATION REPORTS


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38
main purpose =
 to persuade
data =
 objective
audience =
 internal or external
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
B) RECOMMENDATION REPORTS

ABC Format

Abstract



39
purpose of writing
brief reference to the problem to which the
recommendations respond
summary of recommendations covered
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
B) RECOMMENDATION REPORTS

ABC Format

Body

Organization
1) Problem – Recommendation
2) brief discussion of the problems and then a detailed list
of recommendations

40
recommendations in the same order as the problems
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
B) RECOMMENDATION REPORTS

ABC Format

Body

Focus



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41
* Keep the focus on the recommendations *
Discuss the problems, absolutely, but be concise.
Do not go into too much detail with the problems.
Do not repeat what you have already done in the
Problem Analysis Report.
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
B) RECOMMENDATION REPORTS

ABC Format

Body


description of the problems (concise)
description of the recommendations (detailed)


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42
What should be done?
Change or upgrade from what to what?
Be specific.
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
B) RECOMMENDATION REPORTS

ABC Format

Body



43
data that support your recommendations
main benefits of the recommendations (heading)
any possible drawbacks or consequences (heading)

Be specific, esp. with costs.
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
B) RECOMMENDATION REPORTS

ABC Format

Conclusion



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44
brief restatement of main recommendations
the main benefit of the recommended change
your offer to help with the next step
(as always, further contact)
EQUIPMENT
EVALUATIONS
45
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

information/data =



46
objective
concerning how equipment has or has not functioned
well-documented review of the exact manner in
which the equipment has performed
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

Topics =






47
machinery
tools
vehicles
office supplies
computer hardware
computer software
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

Focus =



Equipment
problems, suggestions to solutions
* Evaluate the equipment, not the problems *



48
Don’t repeat the Problem Analysis Report
Arrange your analysis according to its parts; then mention
the problems as they relate to the parts
Keep your focus on the equipment.
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

ABC Format

Abstract



49
purpose of writing
summary of what the report says about the equipment
(Why are you writing AND What’s ahead?)
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

ABC Format

Body


thorough description of the equipment
well-organized critique



50
top-bottom, left-right, inside-out,… (coherence)
analysis of the parts of one piece of equipment
according to selected criteria
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

ABC Format

Body

Evaluation Criteria (some, not all)






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51

physical design
specifications
ease of use
quality of instructions
maintenance (frequency & cost)
availability of software
warranty coverage
service
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

ABC Format

Body



additional supporting data
reference to any attachments
end with a Comparison/Contrast (table)


52
between this evaluated piece of equipment
and your #1 recommendation from the R.R.
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

ABC Format

Conclusion


“Conclusions and Recommendations”
brief restatement of major 



53
findings
conclusions
recommendations
(as always, further contact)
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

ABC Format

Conclusion
o
o
54
Remember, your job here is merely to present the
Decision-Maker with as much information she/he
needs to make an informed decision.
In the end, that person, not you, will make the
decision.
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
C) EQUIPMENT EVALUATIONS

ABC Format

Grammar





55
POV = third person, general (“students” or “one” rather than
“you”)
Hyphens: for 17-inch, 5-year warranty, cost-effective, log-in
Numbers: for plural model numbers, do not use apostrophes
(Model SUX 770s, not 770’s)
Transitions: use transitions to enumerate parts/problems or to
note changes in direction
Capitalization: Web and Internet are capitalized, Building 7
PROGRESS or PERIODIC
REPORTS
56
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
D) PROGRESS REPORTS

details concerning



prearranged


57
the “progress” of work
on a specific project
number of reports
intervals of reports
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
D) PROGRESS REPORTS

internal or external

data = mostly objective

can be persuasive, too


58
to present the best case for the work completed
to sell this project (and future ones) to decision-makers
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
D) PERIODIC REPORTS

summarize your work


59
on diverse tasks
over a specific time period

internal

data = mostly objective
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
D) PROGRESS or PERIODIC REPORTS

ABC Format

Abstract



60
purpose of writing
summary of main project(s)
main progress to date or since last report
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
D) PROGRESS or PERIODIC REPORTS

ABC Format

Body
 description of work completed since last report



61
organized by task, time, or both
several smaller tasks completed –

organize Body sections by time
few larger tasks completed –

organize Body sections by task
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
D) PROGRESS or PERIODIC REPORTS

ABC Format

Body

clear reference to any dead ends




explanation of delays or incomplete work
description of work remaining on project(s)


62
that may have taken considerable time
but yielded no results
organized by task, time, or both
reference to any attachments
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
D) PROGRESS or PERIODIC REPORTS

ABC Format

Conclusion



63
brief restatement of work since last reporting period
expression of confidence, or concern, about the overall
work on the project(s)
indication of your willingness to make any adjustments
the reader may want to suggest
LAB
REPORTS
64
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

School


Technical Communication

65
in such courses as science, engineering, psychology
in such organizations as hospitals, engineering firms,
computer companies
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

VARY in format



from company to company
from Tech. Comm. instructor to TC instructor
perhaps more than any other type of Informal Report
* Check Your Organization’s Preferred Format! *
66
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS
67

description of work done in the laboratory

internal or external

simple or complicated
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

68
Topics =
 purpose of the work
 equipment
 problems
 results
 implications
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

a Lab Report can be submitted as –


69
its own free-standing report
part of a larger report
 that uses Lab Work as supporting detail
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

ABC Format

Abstract


70
purpose of writing
summary of results
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

ABC Format

Body


71
purpose or hypothesis of lab work
equipment needed
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

ABC Format

Body


72
procedures or methods used in lab test
THUS writers rely heavily upon the Process-Analysis
pattern of organization
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

ABC Format

Body


unusual problems or occurrences
results of the test


73
with reference to your expectations
results may appear in the Conclusion, instead
III. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
E) LAB REPORTS

ABC Format

Conclusion


74
statement or restatement of main results
implications of lab test for further work
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