What Are the Differences Between Formal and Informal Reports?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 26, 2020 5:05:45 PM ET
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The differences between formal and informal reports include tone, structure, scope, content and purpose. Another difference is that formal reports are often used in academic papers or to provide a lengthy overview of a major change or development within a business, while informal reports are used for shorter documents, such as memos and newsletters. Consequently, formal reports are more detailed than informal reports.

Formal reports have a set structure: an introduction, body and conclusion. However, informal reports can be structured in any way. Formal reports also have a formal tone and use third-person narrative, while most informal reports use first- or second-person narrative. Although some informal reports use a professional tone, it is not required in many cases.

The scope of informal and formal reports is another major difference. Formal reports analyze a specific topic in great detail. On the other hand, informal reports are often very brief and only include the most relevant information.

Formal reports also provide evidence to back up the information in the report. Since informal reports are brief, this is not included in this type of report. Formal reports usually include citations for the sources used to generate the report. Charts, graphs and statistical information are also common components of formal reports. This information provides evidence and summarizes the findings of the report.