An Example of a Formal Report (With Types and a Template)

Updated November 10, 2022

Business documentation comprises various types and forms that provide information, influence the reader, or present solutions and recommendations. A formal report has several functions that are useful in a business environment. Learning what a formal report includes can help you write a better document in business. In this article, we discuss the definition of a formal report and identify types of reports, explore tips, share a template, and provide an example.

What is a formal report?

If you work in a business environment, you've likely seen an example of a formal report. A formal business report is an official document used to organize statistics, research, and data to help decision-makers analyze information. Formal reports can encompass several pages or many, depending on the topic presented.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Report Writing

Example of a formal report

An example of a formal report depends on the topic and purpose of the document. Here are several examples:

Compliance report

A compliance report documents how an organization is or isn't complying with specific regulations or laws. Often written by an organization's compliance officer, a compliance report provides accountability to show that the company is following legal rules or its internal procedures. The writer provides a statement regarding the regulation in question and what they assessed during their investigation within a compliance report. They then offer suggestions on areas of improvement or confirmation on protocols that comply with the rule. Several groups may use a compliance report, including company executives and management, external customers, regulatory boards, and business partners.

Feasibility report

A feasibility report determines the outcome of a proposed solution by analyzing all relevant factors. Often used in project management, a feasibility report looks at economics, profitability, legality, and technology to decide the likelihood of successfully completing a project or solution. A formal study or analysis takes place before starting work on an idea, and the feasibility report summarizes the challenges and opportunities of the findings.

For example, you can determine if a project is profitable, or the budget is adequate with this report. Several groups may use a feasibility report, including company management, board of director members, project managers, external customers, and suppliers.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Business Reports (With an Example)

Investigative report

An investigative report documents an occurrence that is potentially risky or threatening in some capacity. The investigator gathers evidence of the occurrence and the events leading up to it to look for a cause. They may also include details about the event, influential factors, and recommendations to avoid a repeat occurrence. For example, an investigative report helps safety departments to monitor potentially hazardous work environments or near-misses.

If an accident happens, this report helps determine the cause and find essential steps for accident prevention. Other examples of using an investigative account can include financial discrepancies, workplace harassment, or manufacturing inefficiency. In addition, companies use these reports for continuous improvement in processes and procedures.

Recommendation report

Recommendation reports, also known as justification reports, propose a specific idea to the reader and provide evidence to support the recommendation. The writer presents a solution to a challenge and offers concise reasons the company or reader wants to pursue the idea. Recommendation reports are influential documents used to make a convincing argument. For example, suppose you wanted to propose to your manager to purchase a new piece of equipment for your workplace. Within a recommendation report, you can include various sections, such as the risk involved, the cost of the machine, and the benefits to the company.

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Tips for writing a formal report

Here are several tips to follow when writing a formal business report:

Use a template

Your company may offer a template or in-house format, so check before you start writing. Using a template can help you organize your thoughts and ensure you don't omit any critical information you want to present. It can help to treat the formal report the same as a project. Plan out each section you want to include and identify research sources that provide credible evidence or information. You can check for an in-house template in your employee handbook or by asking a supervisor or human resources representative. Using a template or approved format can help your report look more professional.

Related: How to Write a Business Report in 4 Actionable Steps

Stay productive and rational

A formal report is best when it provides practical, productive, and rational content. Focus on providing logical reasoning for your content. While you can have an emotional investment in the content or reason for the report, you want to include rational explanations, quantitative evidence, and facts to support your requests or recommendations.

Proofread your report

Before submitting your formal report, ensure you proofread it thoroughly. Although you may have a target audience to present it to, various people within or outside the company may read the report. Check that the document has a clear format to follow to allow the reader to understand the content. Be aware for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Choose a font type and size that is easy to read.

Formal report template

When writing a formal business report, you can use a template such as the following to ensure you include all critical information:

Report on [topic of the report]
Submitted on [date of submission]
Summary or Abstract
[This summarizes the contents of the report, including your main findings and overall conclusion.]
[This provides insight into the purpose of the report.]
[This section provides background information for the reader to understand the context of the remaining content.]
[This section explains to the reader what method you followed to gather your findings and make your conclusions. For example, describe if you're using qualitative or quantitative methods in your research.]
[Present your findings based on your research.]
The main issues we found were as follows:
[Outline the main issues to address based on your findings.]
To address these central issues, we recommend the following steps:
[Offer clear recommendations of actions based on your findings and conclusions to help solve the problem.]
[List any references used for your research, including articles, papers, or other sources. You can also include any reference materials, such as surveys, tables, charts, or diagrams referenced in your report.]

Formal report example

Using sections of the template above, here is an example of a formal report:

Report on employee near-miss accident in NorthStar Manufacturing Inc.
Submitted on November 15, 2021
The manufacturing manager requested this report to determine the cause of the near-miss accident on Monday, November 8, 2021. The health and safety manager gathered the information in this report from the manufacturing floor supervisor, three witnesses, and the employee involved in the incident over the week of November 8, 2021.
On Monday, November 8, 2021, at approximately 10:15 am, the employee completed a pre-work checklist on the propane forklift with no recorded concerns. Shortly after, they moved the forklift and collected a large pallet containing 250 kilograms of material. After ensuring the pallet was on the forks, the employee lifted the pallet to a height of one metre and began moving the forklift. Without warning, the forklift malfunctioned, and the pallet hit the floor with considerable impact. As a result, the impact destroyed the product on the pallet and damaged the concrete floor. There were no personal injuries sustained.
The methodology used for this report is the investigative questioning of witnesses. The health and safety manager also consulted the employee's safety records and training reports for further details.
Upon investigation, the employee completed the pre-work checklist for the forklift's operation without cause for concern. The forklift maintenance records showed it was last serviced on October 28, 2021, and the maintenance company didn't report any repairs required. Witnesses say that the employee operated the forklift within normal safety limits and followed all safety precautions. After an extensive inspection of the forklift, the report shows that the hydraulic line on the forklift lift pump ruptured, causing an immediate decline of pressure, causing the forks to fail.
The main issues we found were as follows:
1. Checking the hydraulic lines is not currently on the pre-work checklist for forklift operation.
2. The maintenance company confirms that they did not check the lines on their last maintenance service call.
To address these central issues, we recommend the following steps:
1. Adding hydraulic line checks to forklift operational safety checks immediately.
2. Confirm with the maintenance company to arrange for regular hydraulic line inspections.
1. Copy of forklift pre-work checklist completed by the employee the morning of the near-miss.
2. Copy of the email from the forklift maintenance company that they didn't check the hydraulic lines.
3. Copy of witness statements regarding the near-miss.
4. Photos of the damage to the pallet contents and the concrete floor.

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