This article throws light upon the three main section of a report. The sections are: 1. Introduction 2. Body of the Report 3. Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations.
Section # 1. Introduction:
The introduction of a report
i. Contextualizes the report by tying it to a problem or an assignment.
ii. States the purpose of the report
iii. Previews the report’s contents and organization
iv. Establishes the tone of the report
The length of the introduction depends on the length of the report. As a result, the length of the introduction can vary from one or two paragraphs to several pages.
The topics that are generally covered in an introduction are listed below:
When, how, and by whom the report was authorized; who wrote it; and when it was submitted.
A statement of what is to be accomplished as a result of the reports being written.
What is and what isn’t going to be covered in the report. The scope indicates the sport’s complexity.
The factors that have led up to the report. This information enables readers to understand how the problem developed and what has been done about it so far.
This section covers the factors affecting the quality of the report, e.g., budget and time constraints, unreliability or unavailability of data, and so on. Bear in mind, however, that limitations are no excuse for submitting a poor report.
f. Report Organization:
The organization of the report along with a rationale for following this plan. This section is a road map that enables readers to anticipate each turn in the report. Some of these items may be combined in the introduction; and some may not be included at all.
You can decide what to include by figuring out what kind of information will help your readers understand and accept your report. Also consider how the introduction relates to the prefatory parts of the report. If the letter of transmittal and abstract are fairly detailed, for example, you might want the introduction to be relatively brief.
However, bear in mind that some people may barely glance at the prefatory parts, so make the introduction detailed enough to provide an adequate preview of the report. If you feel that you need to include information that has already been covered in the prefatory parts, simply use different wording.
Section # 2. Body of the Report:
This section follows the introduction. It consists of the major sections that present, analyze, and interpret the findings gathered as part of your investigation. These sections contain the detailed information necessary to support your conclusions and recommendations.
How much detail should be included? Your decision depends on the nature of your information, the purpose of the report, and the preferences of your audience. Some situations call for detailed coverage; others can be handled briefly.
A handy rule of thumb to follow:
Provide only enough detail in the body to support your conclusions and recommendations and put additional details in tables, charts, and appendixes. You also have to decide whether to put your conclusions in the body or in a separate section, or both.
If the conclusions appear to flow naturally from the evidence, it would be logical to cover them in the body. However, if you want to give your conclusions added emphasis; you may include a separate section to summarize them. Having a separate section is particularly appropriate in longer reports; the reader may lose track of the conclusions if they are given only in the body.
Section # 3. Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations:
In a short report this final wrap-up may be only a paragraph or two. A long report generally has separate sections called “Summary,” “Conclusions,” and “Recommendations”. These three labels differ in that they indicate different purposes:
The key findings of the report paraphrased from the body and stated (or listed) in the order in which they appear in the body.
The writer’s analysis of what the findings mean. In other words, answers to the questions that led to the report.
Opinions, based on reason and logic, about the course of action that should be taken.
If the report is organized deductively, the summary, conclusions, and recommendations are presented before the body and are only reviewed briefly at the end. If the report is organized inductively, these sections are presented only at the end and are covered in detail.
The direct (deductive) approach results in a more forceful report, saves the reader’s time, and makes the report easy to follow by giving the main idea first. The indirect (inductive) approach helps the writer overcome the reader’s resistance by withholding the main idea until later in the report.
Because both the direct and indirect approaches have merit, businesspeople often combine them. They reveal their conclusions and recommendations as they go along, rather than putting them either first or last. Business reports are thus often a mix of direct and indirect approaches and cannot be neatly classified by organizational pattern.
Many report writers also combine the conclusions and recommendations under one heading because it is often difficult to present a conclusion without implying a recommendation. Whether you combine them or not, if you have a number of conclusions and recommendations you may want to list them.
In reports that demand action, the recommendation section is particularly important. Readers may fail to take any action if you are vague about what should happen next. You must therefore indicate clearly what is expected of readers. If possible, include a timetable and a specific course of action.
Notes and Bibliography:
When writing the text of the report, decide how to acknowledge your sources. One approach, especially for internal reports, is simply to mention a source in the text. However, this style can be very clumsy, especially when the source requires a fairly long description.
Another, more convenient approach, is to cite the source in the text and present the details in the “notes” section at the end of the text of the report. Use Arabic numerals to indicate the appropriate note. A bibliography is a list of sources consulted when preparing the report. Follow your organization’s preferences when structuring the “notes” and “bibliography”.