Humanities › English What Are Business and Technical Reports? Share Flipboard Email Print Morsa Images/Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated June 12, 2020 A report is a document that presents information in an organized format for a specific audience and purpose. Although summaries of reports may be delivered orally, complete reports are almost always in the form of written documents. In "Contemporary Business Reports," Kuiper and Clippinger define business reports as "organized, objective presentations of observations, experiences, or facts used in the decision-making process." Sharma and Mohan, in their book "Business Correspondence and Report Writing," define a technical report as "a written statement of the facts of a situation, project, process or test; how these facts were ascertained; their significance; the conclusions that have been drawn from them; and [in some cases] the recommendations that are being made." Types of reports include memos, minutes, lab reports, book reports, progress reports, justification reports, compliance reports, annual reports, and policies and procedures. Purpose of Business and Technical Reports In "Business Communication: A Framework for Success," H. Dan O'Hair, James S. O'Rourke, and Mary John O'Hair, explain the four primary purposes of business reports. "Reports can fulfill four different, and sometimes related, functions. They can be used as controls to ensure that all departments are functioning properly, to give information, to provide an analysis, and to persuade others to act." Characteristics of Effective Reports In "Contemporary Business Reports," Shirley Kuiper and Dorinda Clippinger provide insight into effective business communications. "Effective reports are understood by the reader as the writer intended, and they influence the reader to act as the writer desired. The writer's objectives are most likely to be achieved if they correspond with the needs and objectives of the reader. An effective report is empathetic, accurate, complete, concise, and clear. Above all, an effective report presents information ethically." Connecting With Your Audience Warren Buffet, in the Foreword to "A Plain English Handbook", shares his advice on how to best communicate in business reports. "One unoriginal but useful tip: Write with a specific person in mind. When writing Berkshire Hathaway's annual report, I pretend that I'm talking to my sisters. I have no trouble picturing them: though highly intelligent they are not experts in accounting or finance. They will understand plain English, but jargon may puzzle them. My goal is simply to give them the information I would wish them to supply me if our positions were reversed. To succeed, I don't need to be Shakespeare; I must, though, have a sincere desire to inform." Business Reports Can Be Long or Short As described by John M. Lannon in "Technical Communication," along with the length of reports, the purpose and scope of reports differ. "In the professional world, decision-makers rely on two broad types of reports: Some reports focus primarily on information ('what we're doing now,' 'what we did last month,' 'what our customer survey found,' 'what went on at the department meeting'). But beyond merely providing information, many reports also include analysis ('what this information means for us,' 'what courses of action should be considered,' 'what we recommend, and why')." "For every long (formal) report, countless short (informal) reports lead to informed decisions on matters as diverse as the most comfortable office chairs to buy to the best recruit to hire for management training. Unlike long reports, most short reports require no extended planning, are quickly prepared, contain little or no background information, and have no front or end matter (title page, table of contents, glossary, etc). But despite their conciseness, short reports do provide the information and analysis that readers need." Sources Kuiper, Shirley, and Dorinda A. Clippinger. Contemporary Business Reports. 5th ed., South-Western, Cengage Learning, 2013.Lannon, John M., and Laura J. Gurak. Technical Communication. 14th ed., Pearson, January 14, 2017.A Plain English Handbook - How to Create Clear SEC Disclosure Documents. Office of Investor Education and Assistance., Aug. 1998, b-ok.cc/book/2657251/448dd1.O'Hair, Dan, et al. Business Communication: a Framework for Success. South-Western College Publishing, 2000.Sharma, R. C., and Krishna Mohan. Business Correspondence and Report Writing: a Practical Approach to Business & Technical Communication. Tata McGraw-Hill, 2017.