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Format of a Formal Report

Completion requirements

Formal reports are lengthy, contain information, involve research, and are written for upper management or external use.

Companies and governments use extended formal reports when reports are going to be seen by the public.

Letter Of Transmittal

The letter of transmittal is the letter that accompanies the report. It serves the same purpose as an oral introduction would if you were to deliver the report in person. If the report is prepared for someone within your organization, the letter of transmittal may be written in a memo form.

The letter of transmittal should:

  • begin with the purpose of the letter
  • follow with an overview of the report (if the report includes a separate summary, keep this section brief).
  • acknowledge those who assisted with the study, and
  • thank the authority who requested the report for the opportunity to help.

Letter of Transmittal Example

Dear Mr Brown

Here is the report you requested on the need for a central library in the town of Crystal.

To obtain this information, I conducted an opinion survey of 600 area residents. I also met with the staff of the three community libraries in the area to discuss their book collections, staffing and space requirements.

The study indicates there is a definite need for a central library in Crystal.

The three head librarians and Ms. Marion Seymour of Technical Services were of particular help to me in organizing my research.

Thank you for the opportunity to conduct this study, Mr Brown. It was both informative and enlightening. Please let me know if you would like to discuss this matter further.


Title Page

The title page should be as attractive as possible, as it is usually the first thing the reader sees. It should include:

  • The comprehensive title,
  • The name of the person or authority who requested the report,
  • The author’s name and organization, and
  • The date submitted.

Contents Page

The contents page is a list of the sections in the report with the related page numbers. If there are more than five graphics in your report, list them in a separate section titled “List of Figures", after the contents page. List the name of the figure (table, graph, or chart) and the page number.

The Executive Summary

The executive summary or synopsis is a précis of the entire report. It is one section you can be assured your audience will read. Keep it short and include only the highlights of the report. Although it is one of the first items appearing in the report, you will find it easier if you write this section last.

The Terms Of Reference

This is an introductory part of the report and should clearly say:

  • Who the report is for e.g. OCR Certificate in Administration Group.
  • What the report is about e.g. following office procedures.
  • When the report needs to be presented to e.g. Certificate Administration Group 20 January…


This is where you explain how the information was gathered. You also need to say exactly where you got your information from, and how you got the information. This is where you would also include your methodology if relevant.


This section of the report should contain the information that you found out as a result of your procedure. You will need to include the facts and figures that have been collected during your report. You can use tables, graphs and charts, if you do, you must remember to describe them e.g. Chart 8 or Appendix 3 shows that 28% of offices meet safety requirements.


The conclusion is made up of the main findings. This is where you show what you think of the information you have found. Make sure that you clearly show how you come to your conclusions, and that they are based on your findings. Everything in this section is based on the findings and you should not introduce new points at this time.


This is where you must say how the problem can be solved. This must be based on the findings of the report. You can have short-term and long-term recommendations; you need to be aware of the implication of your recommendations (financial, etc.).


An appendix is the additional information you refer to in the report and wish to conclude as evidence or demonstration of the full findings.

Graphs, tables, etc. should be within the findings section if they need to be looked at whilst reading the report. The appendices should only include information that may possibly be referred to out of interest or is needed as evidence.

Click here to view a video that will summarise the main pointers on writing a professional business report.