Chapter 9: Review and Exercises

Chapter Review

Key Takeaways

Key Icon

  • 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.


  1. ExerciseFind a report online. See if you can identify the parts of the report that we’ve discussed. If it’s organized in a different way, why do you think that is? What is the author trying to accomplish?

  2. Choose an essay or project that you’ve done in another class. Try writing a short Executive Summary for it. How did writing an Executive Summary change the way you looked at the material? How did you decide what to put in the Executive Summary?
  3. Find a famous report online, such as The Mueller Report or the Final Report of the National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. How would you describe the tone of the report? How does it try to persuade its audience? How does it use evidence?


This chapter contains additional material taken from Introduction to Professional Communications (c) 2018 by Melissa Ashman and is licensed under a Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

This chapter also contains material taken from the chapter Memos, Proposals and Reports and Audience Analysis in Formal Reports on and is licensed by a CC BY-NC-SA  3.0.


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Chapter 9: Review and Exercises Copyright © 2021 by Melissa Ashman; Arley Cruthers; eCampusOntario; Ontario Business Faculty; and University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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