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Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

c h a p t e r t w e l v e

Long, Formal Reports

L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E S

Upon completing this chapter, you will be able to construct long, formal reports for important projects. To reach this goal, you should be able to

1 Describe the roles and contents and construct the prefatory parts of a long, formal report.

2 Organize the introduction of a long report by considering the likely readers and selecting the appropriate contents.

3 Prepare the body of a long, formal report by applying the advice in Chapter 10 and in other chapters.

4 Determine, based on the report’s purpose, the most effective way to end a report: a summary, a conclusion, a recommendation, or a combination of the three.

5 Describe the role and content of the appendix and bibliography of a report.

6 Prepare a structural coherence plan for a long, formal report.

Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

374 PART 4 Fundamentals of Report Writing

I N T R O D U C T O R Y S I T U A T I O N

Long, Formal Reports Assume the role of associate director of research, Midwestern Research, Inc. As your title indicates, research is your business. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that research and reports are your business. Research is your primary activity, of course. But you must present your fi ndings to your customers. The most effi cient way of doing so is through reports. Typical of your work is your current assignment with Nokia, a manufacturer of mobile phones. The sales division of Nokia wants information that will help improve the effectiveness of its salespeople. Specifi cally, it wants answers to the question of what its salespeople can do to improve their performance. The information gathered will be used in revising the curriculum of Nokia’s sales training program. To fi nd the answer to the basic question, you plan to investigate three areas of sales activities: how salespeople use their time, how they fi nd prospects, and how they make sales presentations. You will get this information for two groups of Nokia salespeople: the successful and the unsuccessful. Next, you will compare the information you get from these two groups. You will compare the groups on the three areas of sales activity (the bases of comparison). The differences you detect in these comparisons should identify the effective and the ineffective sales practices. Your next task will be to determine what your fi ndings mean. When you have done this, you will present your fi ndings, analyses, conclusions, and recommendations in a report to Nokia. Because Nokia executives will see the report as evidence of the work you did for the company, you will dress the report up. You know that what Nokia sees will affect what it thinks of your work. So you will use the formal arrangement that is traditional for reports of this importance. You will include the con- ventional prefatory pages. You will use headings to guide the readers through the text. And you will use graphics liberally to help tell the report story. If the situation calls for them, you may use appended parts. In other words, you will construct a report that matches the formality and importance of the situation. How to construct such reports is the subject of this chapter.

Although not numerous, long, formal reports are highly important in business. They usually concern major investigations, which explains their length. They are usually prepared for high-level executives, which explains their formality. The advice in Chapter 10 about creating reports—determining the purpose, gath- ering information, and choosing a logical structure adapted to the readers—applies to long, formal reports as well. And much of the advice in Chapter 11 about propos- als can apply to long, formal proposals. We will not repeat this advice here. Instead, this chapter will focus on the special components of formal reports, emphasizing their purpose and design. For any given case, you will need to decide which of these components to use and whether or not your report or proposal needs different special elements. As always, the facts of the situation and your readers’ preferences should be your guide.

ORGANIZATION AND CONTENT OF LONGER REPORTS In determining the structure of longer, more formal reports, you should view your work much as architects view theirs. You have a number of parts to work with. Your task is to design from those parts a report that meets your reader’s needs. The fi rst parts in your case are the prefatory pages. As noted in Chapter 11, the longest, most formal reports contain all of these. As the length of the report and the formality of the situation decrease, certain changes occur. As the report architect, you must decide which arrangement of prefatory parts meets the length and formality re- quirements of your situation.

• See Chapters 10 and 11 for advice about developing the contents and structure of reports and proposals.

• Long, formal reports are important but not numerous in business.

• Needs should determine the structure of long, formal reports.

• The need for the prefatory parts decreases as reports become shorter and less formal.

Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 12 Long, Formal Reports 375

To make this decision, you need to know these parts. Thus, we will describe them in the following pages. In addition, we will describe the remaining structure of the long- est, most formal report. As you proceed through these descriptions, it will be helpful to trace the parts through the illustration report at the end of this chapter. In addition, it will help to consult Appendix B for illustrations of page form. For convenience in the following discussion, the report parts are organized by groups. The fi rst group comprises the prefatory parts, the parts that are most closely related to the formality and length of the report. Then comes the report proper, which, of course, is the meat of all reports. It is the report story. The fi nal group comprises the appended parts. These parts contain supplementary materials, information that is not essential to the report but may be helpful to some readers. In summary, the presentation follows this pattern:

Prefatory parts: Title fl y. Title page. Authorization message. Transmittal message, preface, or foreword. Table of contents and list of illustrations. Executive summary.

The report proper: Introduction. The report fi ndings (presented in two or more divisions). Summary, conclusion, or recommendation.

Appended parts: Appendix. Bibliography.

THE PREFATORY PARTS As you know from preceding discussion, there may be many variations in the prefa- tory parts of a formal report. Even so, the six parts covered in the following pages are generally included in longer reports.

Title Fly The fi rst of the possible prefatory report pages is the title fl y (see page 387). It contains only the report title, and it is included solely for reasons of formality. Since the title appears again on the following page, the title fl y is somewhat repetitive. But most books have one, and so do most formal reports. Although constructing the title fl y is simple, composing the title is not. In fact, on a per-word basis, the title requires more time than any other part of the report. This is as it should be, for titles should be carefully worded. Their goal is to tell the reader at a glance what the report does and does not cover. A good title fi ts the report like a glove. It covers all the report information tightly.

• In determining which prefatory parts to include, you should know their roles and contents.

• Thus, they are reviewed in the following pages.

• The title fl y contains only the report title.

• Construct titles to make them describe the report precisely.

A long report can be daunting to readers. Be sure to provide prefatory material that invites them in and makes the key information easy to fi nd.

Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

376 PART 4 Fundamentals of Report Writing

For completeness of coverage, you should build your titles around the fi ve Ws: who, what, where, when, why. Sometimes how may be important. In some problems, you will not need to use all the Ws. Nevertheless, they serve as a good checklist for completeness. For example, you might construct a title for the report described at the chapter beginning as follows:

Who: Nokia What: Sales training recommendations Where: Implied (Nokia regional offi ces) When: 2008 Why: Understood (to improve sales training) How: Based on a 2008 study of company sales activities

From this analysis comes this title: “Sales Training Recommendations for Nokia Based on a 2008 Study of Company Sales Activities.” For another example, take a report analyzing Petco’s 2008 advertising campaigns. This analysis would be appropriate:

Who: Petco What: Analysis of advertising campaigns Where: Not essential When: 2008 Why: Implied How: Not essential

Thus, this title emerges: “Analysis of Petco’s 2008 Advertising Campaigns.” Obviously, you cannot write a completely descriptive title in a word or two. Ex- tremely short titles tend to be broad and general. They cover everything; they touch nothing. Even so, your goal is to be concise as well as complete. So you must seek the most economical word pattern consistent with completeness. In your effort to be concise and complete, you may want to use subtitles. Here is an example: “A 2007 Measure of Employee Morale at Florida Human Resource Offi ces: A Study Based on a Survey Using the Semantic Differential.”

Title Page Like the title fl y, the title page presents the report title. In addition, it displays informa- tion essential to identifi cation of the report. In constructing your title page, you should include your complete identifi cation and that of the authorizer or recipient of the re- port. You also may include the date of writing, particularly if the date is not in the title. An example of a three-spot title page appears in the report at the end of the chapter. You can see a four-spot arrangement (used when writer and reader are within the same organization) in Appendix B.

Authorization Message Although not illustrated in the diagram of report structure in Chapter 11 or in the report at the end of this chapter, an authorization message can be a prefatory part. It was not shown in the diagram (Figure 11–1) because its presence in a report is not determined by formality or length but by whether the report was authorized in writing. A report authorized in writing should include a copy of the written authorization. This part usually follows the title page. As the report writer, you would not write the authorization message. But if you ever have to write one, handle it as you would a direct-order message. In the opening, authorize the research. Then cover the specifi c information that the reader needs in order to conduct it. This might include a clear description of the problem, time and money limitations, special instructions, and the due date. Close the message with an appropriate goodwill comment.

• As a checklist, use who, what, where, when, why, and sometimes how.

• One- or two-word titles are too broad. Subtitles can help conciseness.

• The title page displays the title, identifi cation of the writer and autho- rizer, and the date.

• Include the authorization message if the report was authorized in writing.

• Write the authorization message in the direct order: authorization, information about the problem, goodwill close.

Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 12 Long, Formal Reports 377

Transmittal Message, Foreword, Preface Most formal reports contain a personal message of some kind from the writer to the reader. In most business reports, the transmittal message performs this function. In some cases, particularly where the report is written for a group of readers, a foreword or preface is used instead. The transmittal message transmits the report to the reader. In less formal situations, the report is transmitted orally or by email. In more formal situations, a letter does the job. But keep in mind that a written message merely substitutes for a face-to-face meeting. What you write in it is much like what you would say if you were face to face with the reader. This personal touch enhances the communication effect of your report. Because the goal of transmitting the report is positive, you should begin the transmit- tal message directly, without explanation or other delaying information. Your opening words should say, in effect, “Here is the report.” Tied to or following the transmittal of the report, you should briefl y identify the report goal, and you can refer to the authori- zation (who assigned the report, when, why). What else you include in the transmittal message depends on the situation. In gen- eral, you should include anything that would be appropriate in a face-to-face presen- tation. What would you say if you were handing the report to the reader? It would probably be something about the report—how to understand, use, or appreciate it. You might make suggestions about follow-up studies, advise about limitations of the report, or comments about side issues. In fact, you might include anything that helps the reader understand and value the report. Typically, the transmittal message ends with an appropriate goodwill comment. An expression of gratefulness for the assign- ment or an offer to do additional research if necessary makes good closing material. When you combine the transmittal message with the executive summary (an accept- able arrangement), you follow the opening transmittal statement with a summary of the report highlights. In general, you follow the procedure for summarizing described in the discussion of the executive summary. Following the summary, you include appropriate talk about the report. Then you end with a goodwill comment. Because the transmittal message is a personal note to the reader, you may write in a personal style. In other words, you may use personal pronouns (you, I, we). In addition, you may write the message in conversational language that refl ects your personality. You may not want to use the personal style in very formal cases, however. For exam- ple, if you were writing a report for a committee of senators or for other high-ranking dignitaries, you might elect to write the transmittal message impersonally. But such instances are rare. In whatever style, you should convey genuine warmth to the contact with another human being.

• The transmittal message is a personal message from the writer to the reader.

• It substitutes for a face- to-face meeting.

• Its main goal is to transmit the report.

• In addition, it includes helpful comments about the report. The close is goodwill.

• A summary follows the opening when the executive summary and the transmittal message are combined.

Playing possum doesn’t work anymore, Stephmeyer! I want that report by 5 P.M. or else! SOURCE: Copyright © Tribune Media Services, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

• The transmittal message is usually in personal style.

Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

378 PART 4 Fundamentals of Report Writing

As noted previously, you may transmit reports to broad audiences in a foreword or a preface. Minor distinctions are sometimes drawn between forewords and prefaces. But for all practical purposes, they are the same. Both are preliminary messages from the writer to the reader. Although forewords and prefaces usually do not for- mally transmit the report, they do many of the other things transmittal messages do. Like transmittal messages, they seek to help the reader appreciate and understand the report. They may, for example, include helpful comments about the report—its use, interpretation, follow-up, and the like. In addition, they frequently contain expres- sions of indebtedness to those helpful in the research. Like transmittal messages, they are usually written in the fi rst person. But they are seldom as informal as some transmittal messages. There is no established pattern for arranging the contents of forewords and prefaces.

Table of Contents, List of Illustrations If your report is long enough to need a guide to its contents, you should include a table of contents. This table is the report outline in fi nished form with page numbers. It previews the structure and contents of the report and helps readers fi nd what they most want to read. It is especially helpful to those readers who want to read only a few selected parts of the report—and there can be many such readers for a given report or proposal. Because the table of contents is such an important reading support, be sure to follow the specifi c guidelines in Chapter 10 for preparing one. In addition to listing the text headings, the table of contents lists the parts of the report that appear before and after the report proper. Thus, it lists the prefatory parts (though not the title fl y or title page), the appended parts (bibliography, appendix), and the fi gures and tables that illustrate the report. Typically, the fi gures and tables appear as separate listings following the listings reviewed above. See the textbook website for instructions on how to generate a table of contents easily using Word.

Executive Summary The executive summary (also called synopsis, abstract, epitome, précis, digest) is the report in miniature. It concisely summarizes whatever is important in the report. For some readers, the executive summary serves as a preview to the report. But it is written primarily for busy executives who may not have time to read the whole report. Perhaps

C O M M U N I C A T I O N M A T T E R S

A Questionable Example of Effective Reporting

“How could I have hired this fellow Glutz?” the sales manager moaned as he read this fi rst report from his new salesper- son: “I have arrive in Detroit. Tomorry I will try to sell them companys here what ain’t never bought nothing from us.” Before the sales manager could fi re this stupid fellow, Glutz’s second report arrived: “I done good here. Sold them bout haff a millun dollars wirth. Tomorry I try to sell to them there Smith Company folks what threw out that last feller what sold for us.” Imagine how the sales manager’s viewpoint changed when he read Glutz’s third report: “Today I seen them Smith folks and sole them bout a millun dollars wirth. Also after dinner I got too little sails mountin to bout half a millun dollars. Tomorry I going to do better.” The sales manager was so moved that he tacked Glutz’s reports on the company bulletin board. Below them he posted his note to all the salespeople: “I want all you should reed these reports wrote by Glutz who are on the road doin a grate job. Then you should go out and do like he done.”

• For broad audiences, a foreword (or preface) is used. Forewords do not transmit the report—they comment about it.

• Include a table of contents when the report is long enough to need a guide to its contents.

• The table of contents lists text headings, prefatory parts, appended parts, and fi gures and tables. It gives page numbers.

• Follow the guidelines in Chapter 10 for preparing a table of contents.

• The executive summary summarizes the report.

Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 12 Long, Formal Reports 379

they can get all they need to know by reading the executive summary. If they need to know more about any part, they can fi nd that part through the table of contents. Thus, they can fi nd out whatever they need to know quickly and easily. You construct the executive summary by reducing the parts of the report in order and in proportion. More specifi cally, you go through the report, selecting whatever is essential. You should include the basic information about the report, such as its origin and purpose. You should include the key facts and all the major analyses of the infor- mation presented. And you should include all the conclusions and recommendations derived from these analyses. The fi nished product should be a miniature of the whole, with all the important ingredients. As a general rule, the executive summary is less than an eighth as long as the writing it summarizes. Because your goal is to cut the report to a fraction of its length, much of your suc- cess will depend on your skill in word economy. Loose writing is costly. But in your efforts to be concise, you are more likely to write in a dull style. You will need to avoid this tendency. The traditional executive summary reviews the report in the indirect order (intro- duction, body, conclusion). In recent years, however, the direct order has gained in popularity. This order shifts the conclusions and/or recommendations (as the case may be) to the major position of emphasis at the beginning. Direct-order executive sum- maries resemble the short reports described in Chapter 11. From this direct beginning, the summary moves to the introductory parts and then through the major highlights of the report in normal order. Diagrams of both arrangements appear in Figure 12–1. Whichever arrangement you choose, you will write the executive summary after the report proper is complete.

• It includes the report purpose, highlights of the facts, analyses, conclusions, and recommendations—in proportion.

• Work on writing style in this part.

• Either direct or indirect order is appropriate.

Figure 12–1

Diagram of the Executive Summary in Indirect and Direct Order

Executive summary (in indirect order)

Executive summary (in direct order)

I

I

II

III

IV

V

V

I

II

III

IV

II

III

IV

V

Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

380 PART 4 Fundamentals of Report Writing

THE REPORT PROPER As noted in Chapter 11, the body of most longer reports is written in the indirect order (introduction, body, conclusion). But there are exceptions. Some longer reports are in the direct order—with summaries, conclusions, or recommendations at the beginning. And some are in an order prescribed by your company or the client. Even though the orders of longer reports may vary, the ingredients of all these reports are similar. Thus, the following review of the makeup of a report in the indirect order should help you in writing any report.

Introduction The purpose of the introduction of a report is to prepare the readers to receive the report. Whatever will help achieve this goal is appropriate content. Giving your readers what they need makes a good fi rst impression and displays good you-viewpoint. In determining what content is appropriate, consider all the likely readers of your report. As we noted earlier, the readers of many shorter reports are likely to know the problem well and have little or no need for an introduction. But such is not often the case for longer reports. Many of these reports are prepared for a large number of readers, some of whom know little about the problem. These reports often have long lives and are kept on fi le to be read in future years. Clearly, they require some introduc- tory explanation to prepare the readers. Determining what should be included is a matter of judgment. You should ask your- self what you would need or want to know about the problem if you were in your read- ers’ shoes. As the report’s author, you know more about the report than anyone else. So you will work hard not to assume that readers have the same knowledge of the problem that you do. In selecting the appropriate information, you would do well to use the fol- lowing checklist of likely introduction contents. Remember, though, that it is only a checklist. Only on rare occasions, such as in the longest, most complex reports, would you include all the items.

Origin of the Report. The fi rst part of your introduction might well include a review of the facts of authorization. Some writers, however, leave this part out. If you decide to include it, you should present such facts as when, how, and by whom the report was authorized; who wrote the report; and when the report was submit- ted. Information of this kind is particularly useful in reports that have no transmittal message.

Problem and Purpose. A vital part of almost every report is a statement of its problem. The problem is what the report seeks to do, the situation that it addresses. It is the need that prompted the investigation. You may state the problem of your report in three ways, as shown in Chapter 10. One common way is to word it in the infi nitive form: “To determine standards for corporate annual reports.” Another common way is to word it as a question: “What retail advertising practices do Springfi eld consumers disapprove of?” Still another way is to word it as a declarative statement: “Company X wants to know the char- acteristics of the buyers of Y perfume as a guide to its advertising planning.” Any of the three should give your reader a clear picture of what your report seeks to do. But the problem statement is not the only item you include. You will need to elaborate on what you are going to do. Closely related to what you are doing is why you are doing it. The purpose (often called by other names such as objective, aim, goal) tells the reason of the report. For example, you might be determining standards for the corporate annual report in order to streamline the production process. You will need to weave the why and what of the report together for a smooth fl ow of thoughts.

• Then determine what those readers need to know. Use the following checklist.

• 1. Origin—the facts of authorization.

• 2. Problem—what prompted the report.

• The problem is commonly stated in infi nitive, question, or declarative form.

• Arrangements of the report proper may vary, but the following review of the indirect order should be helpful.

• The introduction should prepare the readers.

• In deciding what to include, consider all likely readers.

• The purpose is the reason for the report.

Lesikar−Flatley−Rentz: Business Communication: Making Connections in a Digital World, 11th Edition

IV. Fundamentals of Report Writing

12. Long, Formal Reports © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 12 Long, Formal Reports 381

The table of contents generator tool in today’s word pro- cessors frees writers from both the physical formatting and the accuracy tasks. Just a few clicks produces and formats the table of contents, along with leaders and page numbers. Additionally, today’s generators add links so that those reading the report on the screen rather than on paper can easily navigate to a particular section or page by simply clicking on it in the table of contents. The table of contents generator works with styles, using them as tags for marking items to include in the table of contents. If you are using a standard report

template, styles are already incorporated in it. If you are creating your own report from a blank document, you could use predefi ned styles or defi ne your own styles to create titles, headings, and subheads. Styles provide consistency so that headings at certain levels always ap- pear the same, helping the reader see the relationship of the parts of your report. Furthermore, if you decide to change the material in your report after you have generated the table of contents, you simply regenerate it to update page numbers with only a few clicks.

T E C H N O L O G Y I N B R I E F

Using a Table of …