Characteristics of Reports
Generally, the information in any report follows the same sequence.
You organize a document according to your understanding of your readers' attitudes. If they are generally receptive and positive, or at least neutral, your material should be organized with the most important information (problem statement and recommendations) first, followed by discussion and supporting details. If the readers have negative attitudes toward the subject of the document or might be opposed to its recommendations, the material should be organized with the recommendations at the end, to enable them to follow your reasoning.
To organize information for any kind of report, you will find the patterns introduced in this module particularly useful for responding to various situations and audiences. For some situations and audiences, only a straight chronological listing of actions or activities is required.
For example, a report describing a new accounting procedure could easily list the revised steps. Occasionally, spatial order will help you describe physical characteristics of objects, mechanisms, organisms, or locations. Cause and effect is valuable for projections and estimates; comparison and contrast is useful for reports surveying the similarities and differences between various equipment or services. In every case, the organization you use should be determined by your purpose and your readers' task.