THE BASIC ELEMENTS OF THE INFORMAL REPORTS
The informal report has five basic elements, arranged in a fairly standard form. You can adapt it to many situations – from presenting background to recommending and proposing. The form has five parts:
Conclusions and Recommendations
The object of an introduction is to orient the reader to the ·contents. Depending on’ the situation, you can choose one of four types of introductions:
- State the objective.
- State the context.
- Alert the reader to a problem.
- Use a preprinted form if one exists.
State the Objective The basic informal introduction is a one-sentence statement of the purpose of the report.
Objective: To report the results of the investigation of delays at Work Station 3.
Many reports start with this method; it is very common. State the Context: “An introduction that states the context provides enough information to orient a reader to the rest of the report~This common type of introduction, which will fit most situations, is an excellent
way to begin almost all memos, letters, and informal reports. To use an introductlon that states context, include four pieces of infor-
.mation: cause, credibility, purpose, and preview. Follow these guidelines:
- Tell what caused you to write. Perhaps you are reporting back on an assignment, or you have discovered something the recipient needs to know.
- Explain why you are credible in the situation. You are credible either because at your actions or YOUl po$lUOI’l
- Name the-report’s purpose. Use one clear sentence: “Tlus report explains why Work Station 3 is inefficient.”
- Preview the contents. List the main heads that will follow.
Two sample introductions that use these guidelines follow.
Lam responding :0’your recent request thatl research the types of writing tasks that will be required in the course of my data processlnq career. In gathering this information, I interviewed John Broderick, the Data Processing Manager Stephen Thomas and Associates, an architectural firm in Lexington, Kentucky.This report explains the writing responsibilities Purpose of a Data Processing Manager. These responsibilities consist of program descriptions, documentation, instruction sets, Preview and proposals.
INTRODUCTION: EXAMPLE 2
In response to your request that I recommend an integrated t software program for our office system, I have investigated two programs, Microsoft Works and Incredible Jack. I have read several detailed reviews and have talked to several current users O! eBen. The I1I ItAO presents mv recommendation an9 the reasons for it. The decision is based on \three criteria a: cost, documentation, and expandability
Alert the Reader to a Problem To alert the reader to a problem, you focus attention on it. To help the reader, set up a contrast between a positive and a negative, making the problem clear. Use one of the following methods:
- Contrast a general truth (positive) wilh the problem (negative)
- Contrast the problem (negative) with a proposed solution (positive)
In either case, you should point out the significance of the problem or the solution. If you cast the problem as a negative, show how it violates some expected norm. If you are proposing a solution, point out its positive significance,
The products we sell must reach our retailers in satisfactory General truth condition. To do so, the. products must remain tightly packed
in their corrugated boxes. Recent complaints from trucking firms that deliver our products indicate that the flaps on our corrugated boxes are constantly opening during normal transport. The loose flaps present a serious safety threat to our products and jeopardize relations with our retailers
Posting financial data on our balance sheets and on the forms derived from them has always been a tedious task. It is a costly, inefficient method; it is so difficult that comparative figures have often not been available for pricing decisions. Anew spreadsheet program based on Lotus 1·2·3 could completely eliminate the tedious recopying and allow us to have many versions of the figures available for major decisions. Use a Preprinted Form Some organizations commonly use a preprinted form for informal report introductions. Figure 11.1 shows such a preprinted form entitled “Technical Report Summary.” The form contains spaces for content information and blanks for information management details. The content information is labeled Current Objective and Abstract. The information management details include department number; report number, employee number, security level, special information on chemicals and a key-word glossary. Information managers use these key words to code the report into a data base so that other researchers can find and use it as needed, thus avoiding needless duplication of effort.
The summary also called “Abstract,” or sometimes “Executive Summary” is a one-to-one miniaturization of the discussion section” If the
discussion section has three partsf the summary has three statements,’each giving the major point of one of the sections~In the Galaxy Foods example op pp. 243-244, notice that both the summary and the discussion’ contain two sections. Each statement in the summary presents the-major point of the corresponding section in the discussion
The backgroundjstatement gives the reader a context by explaining the project’s methodology or history. If the report has only an objective statement, this section orients the reader to the material of the report. In the Galaxy Foods example, the background section orients the reader to the topic.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Informal reports often have a section called “Conclusions and Recommendation.” As shown in the Galaxy Foods example (pp. 243-244), this section usually provides information that differs from the summary. Sometimes, however, this section can replace the summary. In the example on p. 230, no summary appears because the Conclusions and Recommendation section serves the same function.
TECHNICAL REPORT SUMMARY
This report responds to your request for setup and run hour comparisons on Part # 5008179 to determine if a proposed near net shape T15HV material is more cost effective than the CPM10V bar material currently used. A hypothetical process plan, using T15HV near net
shape material for Part # 5008179, is compared to the current process plan, which utilizes CPM10V bar material. The comparison is made on the total normal labor hours per piece for each plan. The process plan having the lowest total normal labor hours per piece will reflect which material is more cost effective
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION
The following conclusions were reached during this project:
- There is an $8.00 per part savings in material cost if the near net shape T15HV material is used.
- Setup and tun hour comparisons reveal that using CPM10V bar material presents lower total normal labor hours per
piece than T15HV in order quantities over 11 pieces.
- The T15HV material will present difficulties in quality inspection and internal spline broaching.
It would not be feasible to use a T15HV near net shape gear for the production of Part # 5008179 since the $8.00 material savings “per part will be offset in larger orders by labor costs
The discussion section contains the more detailed, full information of the report. As the examples below show, writers use heads to subdivide this section, eraploy visual aids, and sometimes provide the discussion with its own Introduction and conclusion. If the author has written the main introduction and summary correctly, the discussion will contain no surprises in information, just more depth. Two format concerns of the discussion section are pagination and heads.
Pagination Paginate informal reports as you would letters or reports. Follow these guidelines:
- To paginate as a letter, place the name of the recipient, the page. and the da te across the top of the page:
- To paginate as in a report, place the page number in the upper righthand corner or in the bottom center
To see a method of handling pagination, see the “Galaxy Foods” example (pp. 243-244); the page number is placed at the top right of each
page and the date (01/21/87) and report number (OK/16/87) are’ at the right.
Informal reports almost always contain heads. Usually you need only one level; the most commonly used format is the “side left,” though other formats are acceptable. Follow these guidelines:
- Place heads at the left hand margin, triple-spaced above and doublespaced below; use underline or boldface.
- Capitalize only the first letter of each main word (do not cap a, an, or the, or prepositions).
- Use no punctuation after heads.
- In your heads, use a word or phrase to indicate the contents immediately following.
- At times, use a question for an effective head.
Kinds of Writing I Will Encounter
According to Mr. Welke, I will encounter three kinds of technical writing: reports, memos, and pr.oposals. Of the two types of reports used.in the ottlce, the most.common one givas information on inventory of parts, tools, and equipment. The second type of report gives information on personnel-relatedmatters, such as hiring, firing, layoffs, and absenteeism. Memos are used to give (or requestl information or instructions. Proposals wUl,include layout changes and equipment aporoprlatlonkequests.
For Whom Will I Write?
My writing will be directed at people who will know more, less, Double-space qr equal amounts of information about my subject. I will also
write for,people higher or lower than I am, or at my same level within the corporation