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Writing a Formal Report

Writing a Formal Report - NortCh08v3.qxd 3:22 PM Page 146...

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Formal Reports and Proposals “It’s hard, if not impossible, to get ahead in business these days without communication skill. By profession I’m an accountant, but writing and speaking have been key ingredients in my success.To make your case effectively, your message must be clear, it must be memorable, it must be compelling.” BOB HARDING CHAIRMAN, BROOKFIELD ASSET MANAGEMENT “Managing a company requires continuous attention to communicating well with all stakeholders.As employee and investor expectations continue to in- crease, a CEO must spend a lot of time ensuring that messages are clearly delivered and understood.” DOMINIC GAMMIERO PRESIDENT AND CEO, FRASER PAPERS LEARNING OUTCOMES This chapter of Impact will help you to 1. understand the differences between informal and formal reports; 2. develop strategies for planning a formal report; 3. be an effective member of a collaborative communications team; 4. use appropriate sources to research your subject; 5. choose an appropriate structure for your report; 6. document your sources correctly; 7. develop effective techniques for presenting a report; 8. write and present a proposal; 9. use and acknowledge Web sources; 10. develop strategies for writing online reports. The distinctions between formal and informal reports are often blurred. Nevertheless, a formal re- port is usually written to someone in another company or organization. Occasionally it is written for 8 NortCh08v3.qxd 3/5/07 3:22 PM Page 146
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Chapter 8: Formal Reports and Proposals 147 Informal Formal Reader often internal often external or distant within organization Length • usually short • usually long (three pages or more) • several sections • sections and subsections Tone • personal • more impersonal • contractions • no contractions Summary integrated on separate page Introduction no heading can have one or more headings Title appears as subject line appears on separate title page in memo heading Transmittal page optional covering letter or memo Contents page none useful if report is more than five pages Figure 8-1 Contrasting Features of Informal and Formal Reports a senior manager in the same company, or for someone with whom the writer has little regular contact. Usually it is longer than an informal report and requires more extensive research. Unless you are a consultant, you are unlikely to be asked to write a formal report often.When you are, there may be a lot riding on it—including your reputation. The purpose of this chapter is to show you how to write a formal report and how to put together the kind of proposal that often precedes it.As Figure 8-1 shows, many of the elements of formal re- ports are the same as those for informal reports.You need to pay the same attention to headings, lists, and illustrations, for example.Although much of the advice in the previous chapter could be duplicated in this one, the emphasis here will be on those areas where there’s a difference.
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