Book Title
M: Business Communication 3rd Edition

978-0073403229 Chapter 9 Text Summary, Lecture Outline

April 5, 2019
Teaching Suggestions
Lecture, discussion, and illustration are all good for teaching types of reports. You can use lecture to summarize text
highlights. We give special emphasis to the overall makeup of reports (Exhibit 9-1 in the text, Slide 9-5). For the
discussion you can use the questions at the end of the chapter (and the suggested answers in the following
Showing examples of actual reports (with explanatory comments) also helps. We have included *ve illustrations of
reports in the text. But you will probably want to use some of your own also. We have found that past reports we
have graded, with our wri,en comments, are especially useful.
Of course, much of the learning comes from application. So probably you will assign some problem work. In-class
analysis of these exercises a/er they have been completed is an e0ective teaching technique. It is especially
e0ective to show good and bad reports—with appropriate explanation and discussion, of course.
Text Summary, Lecture Outline
Slides 9-1, 9-2, 9-3
You can use the *rst slides to talk about how frequently reports are wri,en in business and therefore how
important is it to feel relatively comfortable when writing them. This chapter will help your students with writing a
variety of common types.
An Overview of Report Components
Slide 9-4
The makeup of reports is determined by their length and formality. While shorter reports are wri,en more
frequently, longer reports are also very common in business, especially those wri,en to external audiences. Long
reports are often collaborative e0orts.
Slide 9-5
The influence of report formality and length on report form is depicted in the illustration.
Slide 9-6
To make full sense of the diagram, students need some familiarity with the prefatory components of long reports.
As the book explains:
The title y is simply a page with the title of the report on it. It is included as an extra touch of formality.
The title page has more information. It typically contains the title, identi*cation of the reader and writer, and the
date. You can point out that the title needs special care, as it will form the readers expectations for the rest of the
The letter of transmittal is the message that hands the report over to the reader. It describes the reports purpose
and main finding and includes any other information about the project that the writer wants to include. This piece
of the report has the most personal tone of any of the parts; it typically uses personal pronouns and a more
conversational style than the rest of the report.
The table of contents, of course, is a guide to the structure and specific contents of the report. It can be
appropriate for reports that are as short as *ve pages, though usually its for longer reports. When writing a short
report, one can embed a guide to the contents in the introductory sections of the report itself (for example, as a
preview sentence or a bulleted list).
The executive summary (sometimes given other labels) is the report in miniature. In long reports, it is on a
separate page or pages; in a short report, it can be the opening section of the report itself. Whichever form it takes,
it should be self-explanatory—that is, people shouldn’t have to read the report to make sense of it. One reason for
this guideline is that it is o/en the only part of the report that many readers will read. But another is that it helps
readers get the key points quickly, enabling them to digest the report itself more quickly and accurately.
Characteristics of Shorter Reports
Slide 9-7
Shorter reports are frequently wri,en in business. They generally share the following characteristics.
Little Need for Introductory Information
Slide 9-8
If shorter reports need introductory information at all, it is small.
Short reports are routine and unlikely to be kept on *le for long.
Thus, the need for introductory information is slight.
Slide 9-9
Predominance of the Direct Order
Direct order means that the conclusions and/or recommendations begin the report.
Most short reports use it because readers want answers *rst in routine situations.
Direct order follows this pa,ern:
Introduction (if needed)
Body sections
Recap of conclusions/recommendations
Use the direct order when readers expect an answer and when you expect them to respond positively to your main
Use the indirect order when readers need to see the facts before the conclusions/ recommendations.
Indirect order follows this arrangement:
Body Sections
More Personal Writing Style
Slide 9-10
Shorter reports use more personal writing (I’s, we’s, you’s).
They do so because short reports are prepared and wri,en to people who know one another, involve personal
investigations, and deal with routine ma,ers.
Less Need for a Structured Coherence Plan
Slide 9-11
Long, formal reports usually need a formal, structured coherence plan (summarizing, forward-looking,
backward-bending parts).
Short reports need coherence, but not an elaborate structured plan.
Forms of Shorter Reports
Slide 9-12
This section discusses types of reports based on the nature of the medium (report, le,er, or email).
The Short Report
This report (5th step in diagram) consists of title page and text. It has mid-level formality.
Most use the direct order, headings (but usually to the first or second division only), graphics, and appended parts.
Letter Reports
Le,er reports—reports in le,er form—present information to readers outside an organization. Although
exceptions exist, le,er reports are usually wri,en personally and in the indirect order.
If they are wri,en directly, they use a subject line and end with goodwill closings.
See the Case Illustration in the text as an example.
Email Reports
Email, of course, is widely used in business, and thus so are email reports.
Typically email reports are informal, use headings, and sometimes have graphics.
See the Case Illustration in the text as an example.
Types of Short Reports
Slide 9-13
Many types of short reports exist. Several of the most common are discussed as follows.
Routine Operational Reports
As the text says, these are the workhorse of business. Virtually every organization relies on them to get the
information where it needs to go, and on time.
They can be yearly, quarterly, weekly, or even daily. Most are wri,en on a relatively regular schedule since they
provide information on routine operations.
Their form can vary widely from company to company. The text mentions one innovative format—the 5-15 report.
But you and your students can share others that you know about.
Whatever the form, the top priority is to get the information across as directly and clearly as possible.
Those who regularly write routine reports should consider creating forms or templates for these.
Progress Reports
Progress reports can be viewed as a type of routine operational report.
They review progress made on an activity.
They may also include problems encountered and future projections of progress.
But since you want to convey the point that you are making progress, use a positive tone whenever possible.
Most progress reports are informal, narrative reports.
Problem-Solving Reports
While all signi*cant forms of business communication can be said to solve business problems of one kind or
another, we focus here on reports that are specifically focused on helping decision makers *gure out a course of
action to take.
These are o/en assigned (or requested by a client company), but they can also be unsolicited (as when an
employee needs to bring a problem to his or her supervisors a,ention).
One common type of problem-solving report is the feasibility study. For these reports, writers study several courses
of action and then propose the most feasible, desirable one.
It is possible that some problem-solving reports won’t go so far as to recommend a solution. Sometimes executives
just want you to give them a thorough investigation of a problem. But even in these cases, your report will be
helping them solve a problem.
The direct order is usually best, especially for an assigned problem-solving report, but if you will be proposing
something that readers may not be immediately ready for, the indirect order (with an opening like the “common
ground” opening described in Chapter 6) would probably be wiser.
Audit Reports
Audit reports are wri,en to hold organizations accountable to standards that they are required to meet.
While audit reports can assess an organization’s finance, operations (for example, do they comply with safety or
environmental-protection standards?), or compliance with a contract (is the new assembly line being built to
specifications?), the most common type is that wri,en by an accounting firm to verify the truthfulness of a
companys financial reports.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 has exponentially increased the number of audit reports that companies must
prepare and submit to various regulatory parties.
Audit reports can be short or long in form. In accounting, short forms are a statement of the auditors opinion. Long
forms vary greatly, defying any typical form.
Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes are an example of reports in business that do not recommend or even conclude anything—they
simply describe what happened. Trip reports and incident reports also fall into this category, and you and your
students may think of others.
Minutes provide a wri,en record of a group’s activities and decisions during a meeting.
Announcements, reports, signiticant discussions, and decisions are usually included in summary form.
Minutes should be recorded in objective language, and only resolutions should be recorded word for word. The
writer has to use his or her judgment when recording and preparing the minutes since there is a danger of
furthering some participants’ political interests and not others.
Minutes should be forma,ed for easy readability; sometimes items are numbered to correspond to the numbering
on a formal agenda.
Sample Short Report, Direct Order
Slides 9-14, 9-15, 9-16, 9-17, 9-18, 9-19, 9-20, 9-21, 9-22
Le,er reports either use direct or indirect order. Those in the direct order begin with the main finding or
recommendation. Sometimes this main point is preceded by brief introductory information. Another option is to
use a subject line to announce the topic of the report. Indirect-order le,ers tend not to use a subject line, and they
open with brief background information, such as who authorized the report and the topic.
These slides give an example of a le,er report using direct order.
Slide 12-26
This final quote makes clear that skillful report writing is more important in “the information age” than it has ever