Audience analysis is key to reports. Most reports are modular, which means that they are organized into parts that stand on their own. This helps the reader to look for just the information that’s relevant to them.
Reports have a wide variety of purposes and styles. The three major types are progress reports, recommendation reports and summary reports.
In a progress report, identify what you’ve accomplished, listed any problems you’ve encountered, outline what work still remains and conclude by providing an overview of the project’s status and what should be done next.
A recommendation report is used to help management make decisions. You should identify that a problem or opportunity exists and your organization should take it seriously, that you’ve done the research necessary to solve the problem, that your research and expertise has led you to a solution, and that this solution is the best one, and that you’re aware of any risks and have a plan for them.
A summary report gives management information. The main point is that you’ve done enough research, have used enough sources and have organized them in an appropriate manner.
Formal reports usually have an executive summary, an introduction, a body (which might be separated into background, methods, results, and analysis), a conclusions/recommendations section, references, and an appendix.