Mr. Van Hammen
Maui Community College
Evelyn Ann Sturgeon
Maui Community College
November 30, 1996
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.
Reports may be formatted using either single or double spacing. Commercially prepared reports are generally single-spaced using many typesetting features. The desktop publishing capabilities available in most word processing software enable employees to prepare reports similar to those prepared professionally. Therefore, the trend is to single-space reports, use full justification, and to incorporate desktop publishing features in the report.
Reports are formatted with default top, side, and bottom margins. A half inch of extra space is provided in the top margin (1.5") for the first page of the report and for major sections that begin on a new page. A half inch of extra space is provided for the binding when a report is bound. Most reports are bound at the left (1.5" left margin); a few are bound at the top (1.5 "top margin).
The way a report is paginated depends on the binding. A left bound or an unbound report usually is paginated at the top, right margin. A top bound report is paginated at the center, bottom margin. Arabic numerals (1,2,3) are used for the body of the report and the appendix; lowercase Roman numerals (I, ii, iii) are used for the prefatory (preliminary) pages. The body of the report starts with page 1 even though several preliminary pages precede it. The first page is counted, but it is not numbered. Normally, the preliminary pages are prepared after the report is written; therefore, they are handled as a separate document and numbered with lowercase Roman numerals to avoid duplicate numbers.
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:
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.
A title page, letter of transmittal, table of contents, and executive summary are often placed at the beginning of a report. Other pages, such as a list of figures, may be added.
The title page makes the initial impression for the report; therefore, it deserves special attention. An effective title page is formatted attractively and contains the title of the report, who the report was prepared for, who the report was prepared by, and the date.
The body of the report varies widely depending on the type of report. Reports frequently contain enumerated items, tables, charts, and graphics. Many organizations have style guides for the various types of reports commonly used in the organization.
Materials that support a report, such as questionnaires, biographical sketches, and large computer printout tables, are often placed at the end of the report in a section called the appendix. Often the material is segmented into several different appendices. Printed items in the appendix, such as questionnaires, usually are preceded by a page naming the appendix.
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.