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PRINCIPLES OF REPORT WRITING
BASICS OF REPORT WRITING:
Business reports are vital to larger organization. You will probably write complex &formal reports when you work for large organization. A business report is an orderly and objective & communication of factual information that serves a business purpose. As key words orderly communication a report is prepared carefully. The objective quality of a report is its unbiased approach. Reports seeks truth. They avoid human bias. The word communication is broad in meaning. It covers all ways of transmitting meaning: Speaking, writing, drawing & such factual information is based on events, records, data and the like. Not all reports are business reports. To be classified as a business report must serve a business purpose.
DETERMINING THE REPORT PURPOSE:
A) THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION:
Getting your problem clearly in mind is largely a matter of gathering all the information needed to understand it and then applying your best logic to it. It includes collecting data from company files, talking over the problem with experts, searching through print and electronic sources and discussing the problem those who authorized the report.
B) NEED FOR A CLEAR STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM:
The next step is writing the problem statement clearly is a good practice. A writing statement of the problem normally takes one of the three forms: Infinitive phrase, question or declarative statement.
(i) Infinitive Phrase : “To determine the causes of decreasing sales at store X”
(ii) Question :”What are the causes of decreasing sales at store X”
(iii) Declarative statement : “store X sales decreasing and management wants to know why“
You may describe the statement of the problem in many ways but meaning should be same.
1) DETERMINING THE FACTORS:
Next step after stating the problem, you should determine what need to be done to solve it. Specifically you look for the factors of the problem. That is you determine what subject area you must look into solve the problem. The problem factors may be three types
(i) they may be subtopics of the overall topic about which the report is concerned.
(ii) They may be hypothesis that must be tested.
iii) In problems that involve comparisons, they may be the bases on which the comparisons are made.
(i) USE OF SUBTOPICS IN INFORMATION REPORTS:
If the problem concerns a need for information, your mental effort should produce the main areas about which information is needed. This is an informational report problem-that is, it requires no analysis, no conclusion, no recommendation. It only requires that information be presented. The mental effort in this case is concerned simply with determining which sub-division of the overall topic should be covered. After thoroughly evaluating the possibilities, you might come up with this analysis:
Problem statement: To review operations of company X from January 1 through March 31
2) Sales & Promotions
3) Financial Status
4) Computer Systems
5) Product Development
6) Human Resources
(ii) HYPOTHESIS FOR PROBLEMS REQUIRING SOLUTION:
Some problems concern why something bad is happening and perhaps how to correct it in analyzing problems of this kind, you should seek explanations or solutions. Such explanations or solutions are termed hypothesis once formulated, hypothesis are tested and their applicability to the problem is either proved or disproved.
Problem Statement: Sales at the spring field store have declined and management wants to know why.
1) Activities of the competition have caused the decline.
2) Changes in the economy of the area have caused the decline
3) Merchandising deficiencies have caused the decline
4) Changes in the environment (population shifts, political actions etc) have caused the decline.
In the investigation that follows, you would test there hypothesis. You might find that one, two or all apply or you might find that none is valid. If so, you would have to test advance additional hypothesis for further evaluation.
(iii) BASIS OF COMPARISON IN EVALUATION STUDIES:
When the problem concerns evaluating something, either singularly or in comparison with other thing you should look for the basis for the evaluation that is you should determine what characteristics you will evaluate. In some causes, the procedure may concern more than naming the characteristics.
(EX) To determine the location of ABC company at three different places
City A City B City C
1) Availability of skilled workers
2) Tax structure
3) Community attitude
4) Transportation facilities
5) Nearness to market
The factors sometimes have factors of their own. For Example: The Comparison of transportation facilities can be further subdivided into water, rail, truck and air. So they also may be broken down into sub-factors.
GATHERING THE INFORMATION NEEDED:
The next step is to conduct the research needed. For most business problems, you will need to investigate personally. Some business problems require analysis of primary data based on experiments or surveys and few of them require secondary data on library research is used. Most of the data can be gathered from internet & quality materials. In any event your task is to apply whatever research techniques are required to get the information you need for your problem.
INTERPRETING THE FINDINGS:
The next step after collecting the information is interpreting the findings. Applying and interpreting your findings is obviously a mental process. When interpreting the findings avoid human errors by remembering these fundamentals
1) Maintain a judicial attitude
2) Consult with others
3) Test your interpretations
A) STATISTICAL TOOLS IN INTERPRETATION:
The information you gather is quantitative that is expressed in numbers. Such data in their law form usually are voluminous, consisting of tens, hundreds, even thousands of figures. To use these figures intelligently you must find ways to simplifying these data so that you can present these data to your reader. Various statistical tools are available for calculation and interpreting the data.
ORGANIZING THE REPORT INFORMATION:
After finishing the interpreting the results you know the message of your report. Now your information are presented in a form of outline. Outlines should usually be written. They serve as tables of contents and captions. In constructing your outline, you probably will use either the conventional as the decimal symbol system to mark the levels.
Conventional system & decimal system:
2. (Conventional System) 1.2 (Decimal system)
THE NATURE AND EXTEND OF OUTLINING:
The outline is designed to meet the objective of the report. You should build the outline around the objective of the report and the information you have gathered to meet that objective with the and your information in mind, you build the structure of the report mentally. In this process, you shift facts and ideas about until the most workable order becomes clear. That order is that presents the findings in the clearest and meaningful way. When you reach the outlining stage, you have probably done some of the work.
A) INTRODUCTORY AND CONCLUDING PARTS:
Outlining is concerned mainly with the part of the report commonly called the “body”. The body is the part of the report that analysis and interpretations where needed. It is usually preceded by an introduction, and an ending section of conclusion, and recommendation.
B) ORGANIZATION BY DIVISION:
You may view organizing as a process of division. First you divide the whole into parts, then you divide the parts into subparts. You may subdivide further.
C) DIVISION BY CONVENTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS:
In dividing your information into subparts, you have to find a way of dividing that will produce approximately equal parts. Time, place, quantity and factor are the general bases for these divisions. Time, place, quantity and factor are the bases for the process of division. When the interpretation has a time basis division by time is possible. When the information is related to geographic location, a place division is possible. Division based on the quantity is possible when the information has a number base. (For Example).Rs.10000 to 20000 (on) age 18-30 etc.,
Factors are areas to be investigated are the fourth basis for dividing information (For Example) The following organizational problem should be treated on the basis of location accessibilities, rent, parking, facilities sometimes combinations of time (For Example) The period orientation from May-July, Place Place of Sales: North, South, East, West., quantity and factor are sometimes logical.
D) WORKING OF THE OUTLINE:
The outline in its finished form is the table of contents. Its part serve has headings to the sections of the report (which is why we refer to three parts has headings in the following discussion) because the outline is an important part of the report, you should construct the final wording carefully. When outlining you may use topic or talking headings give only the subject of discussion. For example present armar unit a) description & output, b) Cost, c) Deficiencies.
Talking headings identify the subject and tell what is said about it (For example) Operation analysis of armor unit a) Recent log in overall output, b) Increase in cost of operations. Then every heading making up a level of division should be parallel grammatically (i.e) Parallelism of construction. Then whenever you are using headings see to that you are maintaining the conciseness in wording. Finally you want to use variety of expressions. Repeating words in headings can be monotonous. So you should not overwork works.
WRITING THE REPORT
In writing the report, communicate clearly and quickly, when you write your report see that you follow these guidelines.
REQUIREMEN OF OBJECTIVITY:
Good report writing is objective. They don’t include subjective data for analysis by objective report we mean keep out of all prejudices & biases and your report should seek the truth. Another thing your objective writing should be believable. Second historically objective writing has meant for writing has meant for writing impersonally, they don’t include I, we, you etc., Recently, some writers have argued that personal writing is more interesting than impersonal writing and just as objective. Good advice is to use personal style for routine reports and impersonal style for more formal reports.
CONSISTENCY IN TIME VIEWPOINT:
Presenting information in the right place in time is a major problem in keeping order in a report. Keep a consistent time view point throughout the report. There are two time viewpoints past and present. Select any one and do not change. The past time view point views the research and the findings as past, and prevailing concepts and proven conclusions as present. The present time view point presents as current all information that can be assumed to be current at the time of writing.
NEED FOR TRANSITION:
A well written report reads as one continuous story. The parts connect smoothly. You should use transition to connect the parts of the report. Transition means “bridging across”. Transitional are words or sentences that show the relationships of succeeding parts. Transitions should be used where there is or need to connect the parts of the report. They should be made naturally, not mechanically. For connecting large parts, transition sentences may be used and also use of topic sentences also helps improve thought flow. Transitional words show relationships between lesser parts.
1) MAINTAINING INTERS :
Report writing should be interesting. Interesting writing is necessary for good communication. Interesting writing is the result of careful words choice, rhythm, concreteness- in fact, all the good writing techniques. But efforts to make writing interesting can be overdone. The writing style should be never draw attention away from the information.
COLLABORATIVE REPORT WRITING
Collaborative report preparation is common for good reasons. Group involvement in report preparation is becoming increasingly significant for a number of reasons. They are :-
DETERMINATION OF GROUP MAKEUP:
Groups should have five as fewer members and include all pertinent specialization areas. Preferably, the group has a leader, but there are exceptions.
TECHNIQUES OF PARTICIPATION:
Headers and participants have clear duties to make the procedure work. Groups often experience results that are less than ideal. Consult references on effective group.
PROCEDURE OF THE WORK:
At least two meetings and a work period are needed. The following activities activities normally occur, usually in this sequence
1) First, determine the report purpose
2) Derive the factors involved for analysis
3) Gather the information needed
4) Interpret the information
5) Organize the material
6) Plan the writing
7) Assign the parts to be written
8) Write parts assigned
9) Revise the writing collaboratively
10) Edit the final draft as a synergistic final outcome.