Reports are standard documents in all organizations. A report is a stand-alone document that relays the results of a factual inquiry to other parties who have a professional interest in the results, expert opinions, laboratory tests, policy issues, trips, and administrative details--anything of importance to the professional organization. Because a report typically circulates as an independent document, it will typically follow a standard format that begins with a front matter section that orients the reader to the main purpose and content of the report. This section is followed by a report body, which contains the factual content of the report, and the body is followed by a section of end matter, which contains various references and secondary material.
Reports may be internal or external, informal or formal. The informal report circulates within the local environment and is generally not written about externally funded research. The material of an internal report often takes the form of a memorandum, which is a stripped-down version of the internal report, using a standard header. Informal reports are often short and concern administrative and policy issues or perform the function of keeping others informed about your work. Formal reports are generally tightly structured and extensively reviewed before they are released. Report structure may vary according to the intended audience. For example, the same material may be organized for peer specialists or for a managerial audience.
See the following sections for discussions and examples of reports: