In addition to the report content, the formal report is accompanied by a number of other components.
a) Transmittal Letter
Generally, the first component of a formal report is the transmittal letter. Similarly to a semi-formal report, the transmittal letter “transmits” the report to the intended reader. The letter will often contain the summary or at least the highlights of the report, as well as any details about completing and sending the report that are relevant to the receiver. The transmittal letter is generally attached to the report with a paper clip. Occasionally you will see the transmittal letter incorporated in the binding of the report before the Table of Contents. The transmittal letter may also contain the following information:
why the report was written
who commissioned the report and when
The formal report generally has a cover. The quality of the cover can have a significant impact on the impression the report makes. Reports that have covers of good quality stock, that are glossy, have some sort of visually attractive design and are glued to the pages of the report – rather than stapled, Cirlox bound or placed in a binder – make the best impression. The cover usually has the title of the report and name(s) of the person(s) who completed the report. Often the date the report was completed is placed on the cover as well.
c) Title Page
The title page generally has four main pieces of information:
the title of the report
the name of the person or organization receiving the report
the person(s) or organization who authored the report
the date the report was submitted
The title of the report takes precedence on the title page, with the other information neatly arranged on the page.
d) Table of Contents
The Table of Contents is an accurate and comprehensive table of the information located in the report with a corresponding page reference to easily locate each section. The contents are generally arranged to the left of the page, with subsections indented and identified by section numbers. Each item in the contents should have a corresponding page number that indicates where the section begins only.
e) List of Illustrations
If there are visuals, a listing, with page numbers, can be made at the bottom of the Table of Contents, or immediately following it.
The Summary or Executive Summary is separated from the main body of the report and placed as far forward in the report as possible on its own page. Generally it is located after the Table of Contents, but it could appear beforehand in some reports.
If there is quite a lot of terminology that the intended reader would not be expected to know, then the report writer would compile a glossary of these terms with definitions at the start of the report.
h) Page Numbering
The first section of the report is not usually numbered as part of the report, but given introductory page numbers in the form of lowercase Roman numerals.
The body of the report contains the Background, Details and Methodology used . With formal reports, there are generally a number of visuals and a variety of headings and subheadings contained in the report. The page numbers for the report usually start with the Background section.
3. Back Section
If footnotes or references were used in the text, a list of corresponding references is contained at the back of the report.
The references are a list of books and other sources of information that were used to compile the report.
The appendices include all supplementary material related to the report. Generally, it includes material that provides additional information that would be excessive within the body of the report. The appendices should be well labelled (Appendix A, Appendix B, etc), appropriately titled and explained, referred to in the text of the report, and appear in the same order as they do within the body of the report. Many appendices are proceeded with a page that has its label and title. Appendices can include the following information:
intermediate or status reports
large photos or maps