A formal report is a detailed written description about a particular topic or event. The BusinessZeal article below provides you with a formal report template while simultaneously elaborating on its contents in detail.
When you use figures/diagrams/tables in your report, make sure you number them in a sequential manner. Also, mention the source (in case you have referred to one) at the bottom of the representation. It should have a smaller font size and be aligned to the left.
A formal report is a strong tool for business communication. It is written when you want to present certain details. It looks very similar to a regular business report or a research paper template. The names, purpose, scope, and related entities change respectively, but the style of representing facts and inferences remains the same (more or less). The report gives information regarding the subject. Apart from mere facts, it may use figures and graphs and other pictorial representations to present the topic with more clarity. Remember to be specific and precise where needed. You must be able to analyze where lengthy information is essential, and where you need to be crisp. A sample outline as well as a simple example of a formal report is provided in the paragraphs below. You will also come across a printable template.
Formal Report Template
▲Printable template for a formal business report
Outline of a Formal Report
- As the name says it all, it mentions the title.
- In many contexts, it may be similar to a cover page; however, a cover page may not contain the details of who made the report and why.
- The title is mentioned in the center of the title page, in bold letters and a large font.
- An image may be used below the title to enhance the page.
- Below the image, you need to mention your name, i.e., whoever has made the report.
- Below this, you have to mention whom the report is being made for. It could be an influential person or an organization or an institution.
- Lastly, mention the date.
Table of Contents
- In this section, you have to mention the contents in detail. It gives the chronology of the contents of the report and what section of the formal report can be found on what page.
- It helps the reader get to the page, which the reader wants to go to.
- You have to mention the title of every topic, main subheads, subordinate subheads, and other details. If a person needs to skim over the report quickly or is looking for a particular topic, he should be able to find it quickly.
- In this section, you have to introduce your topic.
- You can provide a small gist of whatever is present in the report.
- This abstract may also contain the purpose or scope of the report (depending on whether it is necessary or not). In most of the cases, a simple summary will suffice. Keep it short and crisp.
Body of the Report
- This is an elaborate section. As the name signifies, it encompasses everything that the topic is about.
- It should answer all the questions that the reader needs to know – what, why, when, where, how, etc.
- This section contains all the sub-headings and titles. It also comprises the facts and figures and tables.
- Inferences try to give coherence to the facts so that the reader will understand what exactly the numbers mean.
- This section mainly contains the report analysis based on certain observations.
- The tone of the written language in this section depends highly on the type of report – scientific, business, or investigative.
- You need to conclude the report in a simple and lucid manner.
- You may provide some concluding remarks on the subject of study.
Recommendations and References
- You are expected to recommend any suggestions or alterations, which the subject of the formal report will require.
- These suggestions may vary from one person to another, which is why you need to remain neutral in your perspective.
- The suggestions may or may not be incorporated; your duty is to provide a strong recommendation and supply evidence to justify the same.
- You may have most certainly referred to some external sources in the course of your research. You need to mention all the references in this section.
- The appendix section gives the details of all the data or related information, which may not be detailed well enough in the report.
- It may include any important fact or an illustration.
Example of a Formal Report
This section gives you a very basic example of a formal report. The contents for each section will just give you an idea of what needs to be incorporated within the same. When the actual report is prepared, you need to have extensive research and data. Also, the sections of title page, appendix, and table of contents have been excluded from the example below, owing to the simplicity of individual explanations. The following example is a formal report regarding employee retention.
The following report has been prepared with a view to understand the reasons behind staff shortage. The main issue of concern is to develop ways of retaining employees and ensuring employee satisfaction.
Body of the Report
The last 6 months have noted a significant fall in the number of employees. The graph below is observed to be inversely exponential.
The beginning of the year enlisted a total of 100 employees. The following month, 10 employees quit without notice. Furthermore, 5 employees provided a month’s notice. Consequently, the following month registered a loss of 20 employees in totality.
A new change management strategy was implemented the following month. Coincidentally or on purpose, the company lost 15 more employees the following month.
As of today, the company ironically boasts of 55 employees – recording a loss of 45 employees within a span of a mere 6 months.
As per the quarterly employee feedback, the reasons for this loss can be attributed to the new system change within the departments. The loss of periodic incentives could also be a possible reason, though it has not been stated explicitly.
Owing to the loss of efficient manpower, the company has been facing a loss in terms of revenue and profits. Quick-fix solutions are the order of the day.
Recommendations and References
In my opinion, any change management strategy needs an involvement of every employee so as to ensure satisfaction. Perks and a salary raise may work wonders, not to mention, a better, proactive work culture.
References: Quarterly Annual Employee Report prepared by Mr. John Doe.
Writing a formal report is not a cakewalk; you need to compile the data of the report in a coherent manner so that the reader can understand it all better. It is a vital communication tool in the business world, and it is inevitable for one to know how they need to be written.