Prepared for
Mr. Van Hammen
English Instructor
Maui Community College

Prepared by
Evelyn Ann Sturgeon
Accounting Student
Maui Community College

November 30, 1996

Business reports are documents that are used internally and externally. Managers often delegate the preparation of internal reports to subordinates; therefore, most reports go up to higher ranks in the organization. External reports often are used to secure business or to report on business that has been conducted for a client. Since reports can have a significant impact on an organization's business and on an individual's upward career mobility, they are usually prepared with a great deal of care.

The following factors must be considered in formatting reports:


Effective report design requires many decisions about each of the factors just enumerated. The software and the type of printer usually determine which features can be used to enhance the format of a document. A few basic guides can be applied to assist in making good formatting decisions.


Topical headings or captions introduce the material that follows and provide structure in a report. Position, capitalization, font size, and attributes, such as bold and underlining, indicate levels of importance. Headings also set segments of copy apart and make the copy easier to read. The spacing before and after headings depends on the type and size of the font used. With regular typewritten copy, spacing (a quadruple space after the main heading and a double space before and after side headings) is important for emphasis. If a larger type size is used for the main heading, less space is needed below it. The large type commands attention; therefore, additional space to set the heading apart from the report is not necessary.


Most writers give credit when they use the work of others. Quotes or extensive use of published material should be referenced. In business, many employees feel that the internal reports they use as references belong to the company; therefore, referencing is not necessary. Employees should keep in mind, however, that referencing also helps the reader locate more complete information than the report contains. Documentation can be provided in several ways:

Report Assembly

The components of a business report vary depending on the formality of the report.

Reports generally are assembled in three separate segments. Generally, the body of the report is prepared first; then, the material to be appended; and, finally, the front matter.


Charles H. Duncan, Ed.D., Eastern Michigan University; Susie H. VanHuss, Ph.D., University of South Carolina; S. ElVon Warner, Ed.D., S. E. Warner Software, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah; Connie Forde, Ph.D., Mississippi State University; Donna L. Woo, Cypress College, California, South-Western College Keyboarding, South-Western Publishing Co.