7.8 Additional Report Types

In addition to the reports discussed in the previous sections, there are several other kinds of reports technical communicators should be aware of. This page takes a brief look at some of the most common ones and provides links for more information.

Standard Operating Policies and Procedures

These are the operating documents for organizations; they contain rules and regulations on how the organization and its members are expected to perform. Policies and procedures are like instructions, but they go much further. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are more for procedures in which a process is performed—for example, taking a dental impression.

For more information and examples, see “Standard Operating Procedures” from Online Technical Writing and the EPA’s guide to writing SOPs.

Recommendation and Evaluation Reports

Recommendation reports are similar in nature to feasibility reports in that they compare several options and make recommendations but may not be as involved as a feasibility report. Evaluation reports assess value and worth and pass judgement based on a set of requirements or criteria.

For more information on writing evaluation reports, see the CDC’s comprehensive guide “Developing an Effective Evaluation Report.”

Technical Guides and Handbooks

Technical guides and handbooks are similar to instructions and technical reporting but tend to differ somewhat in purpose and audience.

Handbooks and manuals are the most common form of documentation in the business environment used to instruct and guide employees on technical procedures, corporate policies, and many other kinds of information that is not intuitively obvious or easy to remember. Without them, employees would lose a valuable reference source and businesses would suffer from a variety of problems, ranging from untrained workers to liability lawsuits.

Some people make sharp distinctions between what is a manual and what is a handbook, but in practice there is substantial overlap. By convention, certain types of publications are more frequently called manuals, notably in technical documentation for software programs and for machine operation. However, these same sorts of publications may be termed users’ guides, help guides, reference books, or something else altogether. To view an example of a user’s guide, see Apple’s iBooks app guide.

For more information on technical guides and handbooks, see “Handbooks,” from Online Technical Writing.

Primary Research Reports

This type of report presents findings and interpretation from laboratory or field research you have completed. The primary research report presents original research data—no matter whether that data was generated in a laboratory or out in the field.

For more information and examples, see “Primary Research Report” in Online Technical Writing and “Lab Reports” in Technical Writing Essentials.

Business Plans & Proposals

This type is a proposal to start a new business. Much like a proposal, a business plan makes the case for starting a business, service, or product. Business plans are designed to secure funding to start a new business or to change a business in some significant way. Business plans are important documents for business partners who need to agree upon their plans, government officials who need to approve that plan, and of course potential investors, such as banks or private individuals, who may fund the business.

For additional information on writing business plans, see the articles “A Guide to Writing Your First Business Plan” from ZenBusiness.com.

Technical Specifications

This type of report presents descriptive and operational details on a new or updated product. Technical specifications are descriptions of products or product requirements. You typically see specifications in the documentation that comes in the package with certain kinds of products, for example, CD players or computers. These describe the key technical characteristics of the item. But specifications are also written as a way of “specifying” the construction and operational characteristics of something. They can provide details for the design, manufacture, testing, installation, and use of a product. When you write specifications, accuracy, precision of detail, and clarity are critical. Poorly written specifications can cause a range of problems and lead to lawsuits.

To see a sample of technical specifications for designing and constructing a birdhouse, click here.

Additional Resources


*This page borrows from the following source:
Online Technical Writing. Source link.


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