15 Types of Business Reports With Purpose and Characteristics Included

Reports are a crucial form of communication for any business. But what’s more important is preparing the right kind of report for the right cause.

Most people are not aware of the different types of business reports used in business communication along with their use cases.

Luckily this guide will help you out in increasing your awareness. With other reporting aspects such as its importance, characteristics and structure. But before that..

What is a Business Report?

A business report is a formal document used to communicate information in a systematic manner. The information includes statistics, facts, research analysis, arguments, recommendations, etc.

The content of a business report is unbiased and factual. It is presented in an orderly structure within a specific format. Business communication report writing serves as a way to bridge the gap between the lower and top levels of management. There are different types of business reports used for evaluating, reviewing and analyzing specific events.

Characteristics of report writing are:

  • Reports must be accurate.
  • The information presented is clear and precise.
  • Relevant information such as facts and figures.
  • Written in an unambiguous style with simple language 
  • Business reports are objective and logical 

Related Reading: Characteristics And Features of a Good Business Report

Below is the list of 15 Different Types of Business Reports

->On the basis of frequency or importance

The reports that fall under this category are routine reports and special reports.

1) Routine Report: A routine report is prepared at specific intervals or as a routine activity. The frequency of these reports can be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

2) Special Report: This kind of report is prepared for the management on special requests for a specific purpose. Typically, these kinds of reports include the recommendations and views of the report writer based on factual information.

->On the basis of legal formalities

These reports are used for legal activities and business obligations. They include:

3) Formal Report: A formal report is prepared in a predetermined and structured format. It focuses on deep detail and objectivity. No personal pronouns are used in this type of report.

4) Informal Report: An informal report is prepared in a letter or memo format. Usually, the informal business report consists of three elements that include introduction, body and conclusion. It uses casual language and can be addressed directly to the concerned person.  

5) Statutory Report: These are required by the law to be provided by a large company. The information provided includes share allotments, cash receipts, details of company board members, contact information, etc.

6) Non-Statutory Report: A non-statutory report is not required under the provisions of the law. However, it is used by the board of directors of a company to make important decisions. These reports are prepared for submission to shareholders, directors, committees and employers.

->On the basis of function

Functional reports include the following types of reports in business:

7) Informational Report: An informational report is an objective report that only mentions facts without detailed explanations. Some examples of this business report type are attendance reports, annual budgets, and employee roles in the company. etc.

8) Analytical Report: This kind of business report is necessary for important decisions made by a company. It evaluates a company’s current standing and presents relevant conclusions, solutions and suggestions. Example – scientific reports and employee appraisal reports.

9) Progress Report: A progress report is used to track the development of a company. It follows progress being made in accordance with the goals set. This type of report can be daily, weekly, monthly, etc and is used to track tasks from different departments.

10) Vertical Report: A vertical report follows a hierarchical structure with up or down movement within a company. It could be for the managers in an upward motion or mentees in a downward motion.

11) Lateral Report: On the other hand, lateral reports move from side to side. This report is shared between the same or similar departments of an organization. This helps in coordination and working on tasks in unison.

->On the basis of length

There are various types of business reports that are lengthy and detailed, while others are short and concise. They are: 

12) Long Report: These reports are written in a formal manner and consist of multiple pages. The content is heavily detailed and focuses on a wide range of data collected through investigation and research.

13) Short Report: As the name suggests, short reports are compact and concise. They are written in an informal manner, usually in the form of a letter or memorandum. Short reports can directly be addressed to the manager and do not require detailed information.

Related Readings: Short Report In Business Communication: (Format and Types Included)

->On the basis of purpose

These reports are written to carry out a specific objective. They include:

14) Research Report: A research report is the most detailed type of business reporting for any enterprise. It is made when a company wants to try something new or expand into a new geographical location. It is made up of all the data collected by researchers and specialists. This includes market research, in-field studies, experiments, census, etc.

15) Explanatory Report: An explanatory report is written to explain a specific topic of interest to its readers. It is written in a clear and formal way which is easy to understand. Explanatory reports can be used to explain the findings of a research report. 

Structure of Business Report

Each part of a business report has a clear purpose. The purpose of following a format in report writing is to present information in an organized manner. This makes all types of reports in business communication easier to navigate for the reader. 

Illustration-of-men-looking-at-report-format

A business report contains the following elements:

1) Title Page: This informs the reader what they’re about to read, and when and by who it was written.

2) Executive Summary: This is the shortened version of a report. It contains the topic, overview of data and recommendations. This is for busy managers and executives who may not have the time to go through the entire report. 

3) Table of Contents: For lengthier reports, this section lists the headings and subheadings in chronological order. The page number is mentioned along with the headings and subheadings for easier navigation.

4) Introduction: This section highlights the topics presented in a report. The reader is informed about the purpose of the report, the data collected and why it was collected.

5) Body: The body of a report is where the details come in. Depending on the type of report, this section highlights multiple sets of data and subheadings relevant to the main subject. Data can be presented using pictures, tables, graphs and charts.

6) Conclusion: This is the concluding part of a report. It is used to summarize the content found in the body of a report. 

7) Recommendations: The recommendation section is used as a call for action as to what should be done next. It is used to present solutions to issues, answer questions and justify arguments found in a report.

8) References: This section lists the sources of information found in the report. Contact info, links and locations of third-party resources can be found in this part of a business report.

9) Appendices: This is the last section of a business report. Additional documents and information such as a glossary, financial data and transcripts of interviews are listed in the appendix.

To know more check out our detail guide on structure of a business report.

Important Benefits of Business Report for an Organization 

Out of all the important characteristics of report writing, the prime one is it being a tool of communication. Reports are used to bridge the gap between different areas of a company. 

Illustration-of-a-women-writing-report

Other important benefits of business reports are:

Tracks Development: Business reports track growth history, analysis of trends and project details. This progress is tracked over a period of time. Past reports are used as reference points for working on weaknesses and improving the company’s goods and services.

Duty to Stakeholders: The legal fiduciary obligations of a company to its stakeholders and government agencies also rely on written reports. Annual business reports are processed to provide a complete picture of all business activities to the concerned parties. 

Audit Trail: Reports record the history of a company’s past activities. Information related to budgets, sales, meetings, etc. is all documented. This helps provide a well-organized record of the company’s transactions for auditing purposes. 

Tackling Complex Situations: Different types of reports in communication are used to understand complex situations that arise in a company. These reports are used to implement strategies and offer solutions.

Coordination Among Various Levels of Management: Reports reduce the administrative distance between the three levels of management in a business. These levels are – operative, strategic and coordinative.

Related Reading: Importance of Report Writing In Business Communication

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the purpose of a business report?

Ans. The purpose of a business report is to communicate data in a clear and concise manner to managers, executives and shareholders. It is a managerial tool used for decision-making, professional advancement and conducting investigations. 

Q2. Three types of business reports?

Ans. There are many different types of business reports. Three commonly used ones are – Informational Reports, Analytical Reports and Research Reports.

Q3. What are the types of formal reports?

  • Types of Formal Reports are:
  • Audit
  • Annual Report
  • Incident Report
  • Situational Report
  • Compliance Report
  • Inspection Report
  • Safety Report

Aditya Soni

Aditya is the head of content at clearinfo and is responsible for improving the site's organic visibility. He is a certified SEO trainer and has worked with SaaS companies and startups to enhance their digital marketing presence. He is also an ahref fanboy. Click to connect with him on Twitter, and LinkedIn.  

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