Analytical and informational reports
A complex and detailed report may be written to explain the results of a lengthy study on topics such as (1) whether the company should close its three outdated plants and open one modern plant, (2) whether the company should expand its product line, or (3) whether the company should merge with another firm. Reports that require a long period of research and investigation to analyse a major topic in depth are called analytical reports. The format and the language used for such a report are usually formal. Many companies adopt their own standard pattern for reports. If no such standard patterns exist, writers usually follow the structure discussed in Unit 4. These reports generally adopt a formal (but not a stiff) tone. Contractions and personal pronoun “I” are usually avoided, although they may be used correctly in other kinds of report. Avoiding “I” gives the analytical report a certain objectivity. For example, “I gathered the following evidence as I conducted a survey of...” sounds too much as if the report is based on the writer’s personal feelings. Instead, “The evidence gathered during the survey proved that...” makes the report objective - based on facts, not on personal opinions.
But most of the reports written in business are simpler and more straightforward than analythical reports. They are called informational reports because their purpose is to communicate facts, ideas, statistics, or trends in a direct manner. Informational reports are less formal than analythical reports, in fact, some of them are typed on standard memo paper or on printed forms.
Such reports are usually periodic - they are submitted at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, and so on). Periodic reports are common in business. Sales representatives may submit their sales reports on a daily basis. Production managers may submit their reports on a weekly basis. Executives usually submit their expense reports on a monthly basis. For an example of a common periodic report, see the completed expense report below.