What is a Short Report?
Business communication report writing comes in all shapes and sizes. Not all occurrences require a lengthy and detailed report. This is where a short report comes into use.
Short report writing is an essential form of business communication. It gives a clear and brief background about a specific situation to its audience. The details of a situation are summarized in short concise points.
They help in evaluating possible solutions to issues and analyzing data quickly. Short reports support the improvement of critical business skills like decision-making and problem-solving.
A short report is a formal and well-structured document. It saves money as it requires the auditor less time to write. Due to being short and to the point, it is submitted in the form of a memorandum or letter.
Types of Short Reports
1) Periodic Report
A periodic report is used to give readers information at regularly scheduled intervals. This type of report is also used to track progress and quality of work done by the employees.
A company can prepare its own periodic report timetable. Reports can be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
2) Sales Report
Sales reports help in evaluating the financial state of a company. They provide a record of sales activity. The volume of sales, profits, losses and expenses incurred are all covered in a sales report.
This is an example of a business report that helps managers plan for the future by analyzing past performance.
3) Progress Report
The status of ongoing projects and the current state of business are documented in a progress report. It provides readers information about the past, present and future overview of work being done.
A progress report highlights whether the goals set are being met in accordance to:
- The time schedule
- Within the budget
- Using correct techniques/equipment
- Assigning the right tasks
4) Travel Report
A travel report contains information about business trips and how they affect current and future operations. All details about a trip are mentioned such as place of visit, purpose, expenses incurred, meetings, duration of stay, etc.
Common types of travel reports include site inspection reports, field trips, and health and social visits.
5) Incident Report
An incident report documents unexpected events in a business. These include accidents, delays, cost overruns, equipment failures and breakdowns.
A court of law can use an incidental report as evidence. These reports contain details about the incident such as what happened, time and location, persons involved, actions are taken, etc.
6) Test Reports
Test reports contain information about research experiments and tests conducted in a lab or in the field. It is an objective and a factual short report.
This type of report documents the objectives, results and conclusions of tests performed.
Differences Between a Long and Short Report
A long report is generally referred to as a formal report. It contains a wider range of information which requires a lot of research and documentation of in-depth details.
On the other hand, a short report is generally considered an informal kind of report. It is usually written in the form of a letter or memo. The information presented is concise and to the point.
A short report is a simplified version of a long report as it documents lesser details. Despite being similar in function, they differ in a number of ways.
The differences between long and short reports are listed as follows:
As the names suggest, the length of a long and short report varies. In a short report, in-depth details are cut out and only essential information is mentioned. Whereas long reports are lengthy documents containing many pages of heavily detailed information.
As compared to a short report, a long report is always more than one page. It must contain a title, introduction, body and conclusion.
Due to being lengthy and well detailed, it can also contain a table of contents. The end of a long report has a bibliography and appendix. A short report does not require such a formal structure.
A short report is written for recurring and routine issues. These situations do not require complex solutions and access to detailed information, as in the case of long reports.
Long reports are written for situations that require extensive research over a period of time. They are used for non-recurring problems.
The tone of a long report is restrained and somber in writing style. Full names of people are used and details are specified in the third person.
Short reports may establish a personal relationship between the reader and the writer. First-person pronouns such as “I” and “We” are commonly used in short report writing format.
Format of a Short Report
A short report consists of the following parts:
Introduction: A short report begins with a brief summary of the subject. For this, the writer does research on the background material relevant to the report.
An outline is usually prepared based on the data collected. The introduction to a short report is used to clearly define the objectives to the reader.
The writer must consult their superiors prior to clarifying the requirements, the format and the content. For example, the format of a financial report will be different from a project evaluation report.
The introduction section is usually no longer than a paragraph. It is used to serve as a guide for the rest of the report.
Background: This section of a short report comprises the body of the report. More details about the main subject are included.
Depending on the type of short report, this section may contain technical details, solutions, recommendations and data analysis.
The format for the background of a short report may vary. For example, a business report would contain information about competitive analysis, market research and financial projections.
Goal: The body of a short report should always be followed with the goal of the study. This is to lend credibility to the report and engage the interest of the readers.
The goal of a short report should be specified in a few sentences. This gives the report a purpose and the readers a clear indication as to what the report is about.
Conclusion: This is the last section of a short report. The final lines of a short report are used, to sum up the key findings of the whole report.
Details such as references and recommendations can be added in addition to the introduction and body of the report.
It is a good idea to conclude by referring back to the objectives of the report. The results and key findings are primarily listed here in brief. It is written in a way that calls for action by the reader.
Characteristics of a Short Report
The importance of report writing in business communication cannot be ignored. Reports are necessary for the evaluation of business activities, and employees and for tracking progress.
The prime characteristic of a short report is to briefly provide clear and factual information. This information is used for internal communication in a company.
Short reports are also documents used for future reference to make growth comparisons and analyse data.
Some more characteristics of a short report are:
- Clear and compact
- Complete and comprehensive
- Accurate presentation of facts
- Easy to read format for readers
- Impersonal style of writing
- Includes date and signature
- Written in a lucid style
- Presented in a concise, logical manner
- Mentions brief technical details and relevant information
- Summarizes the key findings of research into a single page
Related Reading:Characteristics And Features of a Good Business Report