In this guide, you will learn about what is an informal business report, how to write an informal business report that would help you streamline your business communication. The write-up also includes types of informal reports, with real examples to help you out.
What is an Informal Business Report?
An informal business report is a type of report in business communication which is presented in the form of a letter or a memorandum.
The main attribute of an informal report is the short length and presentation style. They are prepared quickly, mention only relevant details and require lesser background information.
As compared to a formal report, a business communication informal report does not require a cover page, table of contents, executive summary, etc. It contains an introduction, a body/discussion section and a final conclusion and recommendations section.
An informal business report outlines issues pertaining to matters within or among an organization. The writing tone is personal in nature as it can be directly addressed to its reader or group of readers.
How to write an Informal Business Report?
An informal business report is written in 4 different formats–
- Letter form
- Prepared form report
- Miscellaneous reports.
The format of an informal report determines the way it is written and presented. This depends on the needs of the reader and the purpose of the report.
The following formats are used to write an informal business report:
- Memorandum: Report topics about recommendations, justifications, progress reports, etc. are presented in the form of a memo. This information is brief, factual and easy to understand.
The writing process begins with listing who the memo is addressed, the written by whom, date and subject of the report.
Following this, the rest of the report is written using the introduction-body-conclusion structure. In the introductory section, the writer mentions the purpose of the memo.
Following this in the body section, the writer provides information collected related to the purpose. They highlight concise factual information about key findings.
Lastly, in the conclusion section, the writer must summarize their findings and give recommendations, request further assistance or offer solutions to the problem.
- Letter Form: Informal reports may also follow a standard informal letter format. These reports are directly addressed to a concerned person or team concerning a specific issue, request, course of action, etc.
The tone of the letter is personal with the use of first-person pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘you’. For example, a letter of promotion for an employee.
- Prepared Form: Companies and firms often use prepared forms with pre-written categories of data as a form of reporting. This gives clear guidance and a straightforward approach to filling data in the report.
There can be numberless prepared forms which can be prepared for any kind of purpose. The pre-written fill-in-the-blank entries are drafted according to the type of form it is.
For example, a prepared form to report incoming stock for a company may include data entry fields such as:
- Date of arrival
- Time of arrival
- Batch number
- Location of delivery
- Relevant contact information
- Miscellaneous Reports: These reports are written for purposes that do not classify within memos, letters and prepared form reports. The suitable format for such reports is invented by the writer in order to convey information clearly.
The writer must organize the information in such a way which answers questions a reader would likely ask. This can be done by including extra topic headings to highlight key pieces of information.
Examples of Business Informal Report
How do you write an Informal Report?
The structure of informal reports comprises three main sections. They are:
- Introduction: The introduction section is the opening part of a report. This provides the readers with a brief statement of the contents found in it.
The writer must plan well in advance and sort out all relevant sources of information to write this report. In this section, the writer mentions the tasks assigned to them and highlights the scope of the report.
Along with this, they must also document the purpose of the report and briefly forecast the main topics discussed.
- Body of the Report: Following the introduction, we have the body of the report. In the section, the main subjects of the report are briefly discussed.
The information is written in a clear and concise manner. It is done keeping in mind that the readers will most likely skim through sections and read in a non-linear way.
All relevant information including facts and findings is listed in this section. The informal report writing format is personal, therefore, it can be directly addressed to a specific reader or group of readers.
- Conclusion and Recommendations: This is the concluding part of an informal business report. This is where the writer gives a brief overview of the main points of discussion and suggests recommendations. The recommendations suggest are in the nature of:
- Actions to be taken
- Response from the readers
- Further inquiry is required by the writer
- Contact information for future issues
The conclusion should be as short as possible. It should tie in all the points mentioned in the body of the report and offer a logical conclusion.
Difference between Formal and Informal Business Reports
Upon comparing a sample informal business report with a formal business report, the biggest differences found were:
- Structure: In business reporting, formal business reports follow a rigid preset structure and format which is not required in an informal business report.
Formal reports are long and contain several pages of information whereas informal reports are like short reports and are keen to be casual.
- Nature of Content: Formal reports focus on content which is heavily detail-oriented and requires extensive research and study. It tackles complex and non-routine matters.
Examples of this are analytical reports and scientific reports. On the other hand, informal business reports focus on routine and operational matters of a company such as meeting reports, status updates, etc.
- Format: Formal reports are written in a manuscript format whereas informal reports are written in a letter or memo format.
- Target Audience: While informal reports are always written for members of the organization, formal reports can also be written for outsiders.
- Style: Contrary to formal reports which use formal (third-person style) language, informal reports are written using personal tone and casual language.
What is the purpose of an Informal Report?
An informal report is used to communicate reliable information rapidly and concisely to the internal members of an organization. It pertains to the day-to-day decisions that arise consistently in a business.
Informal report writing is a crucial form of business communication as it allows the company to manage operational tasks and take swift decisions effectively.
The purpose of an informal report is to report short pieces of information in a clear and understandable way. The writer is not required to get into extensive background research and detailed information.
This makes an informal report an effective guide for undertaking routine activities and developing operational strategies.
Related reading: Importance of Business Report
Informal Report topics that you can use
As we mentioned above, an informal report focuses on operational and day-to-day activity in a business. Therefore, it pertains to matters that are routinely in nature.
An informal report covers the following topics:
- report of progress on a specific job assignment
- report on inspection of a product, site or activity
- daily tracking of work progress
- tracking company meeting
- statement of explanation for the failure to meet deadlines
- proposal for new suggestions and recommendations
- instructions for employees
- request for assistance on a project
- memo for leave, promotion, etc
- cost estimate for a new project, travel expenses, etc.
Types of Informal Reports:
Here are some commonly used informal report types:
- Meeting Minutes: This type of informal report is a standard practice in companies. It is used to document information from business meetings that are required to be officially recorded. Information such as key findings, what was discussed, voted on or ideas proposed are mentioned.
- Accident Report: These reports contain information about accidents, work stoppages, equipment failure, etc. A business must be prepared for any kind of unforeseen incident.
Accident reports must be prompt and reported immediately. The causes, who was involved, where it happened, damages incurred, etc. are mentioned in this type of informal report.
- Survey Report: A survey report is prepared when the writer is asked to collect information about a specific subject. It is usually done in memo form. The introduction of the report begins with the data the writer was asked to collect.
In the body of the report, the writer lists the advantages and disadvantages of the available alternatives along with relevant key findings.
- Analytical Report: An informal analytical business report shares analytical information and recommendations about a specific topic.
An analytical report can include opinions of the writer as compared to solely factual findings. The writer lists down recommendations based on the information analyzed.
- Progress Report: A progress report is used to track the progress made on a particular work project. It mentions the primary objective of the project, which tasks are already done, what is currently being done and what is left to be completed.
Related reading: 15 Types of Business Reports