Do you need to write effective reports and memos in English? Are you confused when it comes to certain terms and idioms you typically find in reports? No problem, this lesson will help you to fix these issues and more.

Business English Memos and Reports


Vocabulary – Expressions – Phrasal Verbs – Idioms:

Memo – refers to a short written message meant to relay company information to employees. Memos can also be sent to customers, business partners, suppliers, and others involved with your business.

Report – a document that provides company information in a narrative and logical manner. Reports frequently vary in length and content, but many companies have standards that must be followed.

Subject – the main reason for the report or memo. Memos will typically only have one subject, while a report will have one main subject with other minor subjects and points.

Findings – items that are brought up in a report or memo that are a result of research.

Recommendations – these are typically based on the findings given in reports. They are suggestions made to solve problems, start new projects, and other productive functions of business.

Procedures – a way of doing something that follows specific steps. These steps are typically followed in a particular order.

Standard operating procedures(SOPs) – agreed upon step-by-step instructions written by an organization to ensure employees follow the same routine for normal operations. They are used for efficiency, repetitive performance, and to ensure quality standards are followed.

Reaching a conclusion – the end result of most reports is to give a decision or make a judgment on the main topic or topics being discussed. Some reports are information only and do not need to reach a conclusion.

Touch base – may appear in a memo meaning that the sender wanted to make contact with anyone the memo is intended for.

Troubleshoot/troubleshooting – referring to a problem that needs to be solved. The creator of the memo is looking for the problem, what is referred to as “trouble”.

Online document management system – software that a company runs online to keep track of memos and reports. Companies either run their own through systems like Sharepoint from Microsoft, have other companies create these systems, or for smaller companies they use Google docs or other free systems.

Up to date – the written content has the latest information and any changes to the data has been made. This is important to ensure that projects and tasks run effectively and produce the desired results.

Memos and Reports Live Example


Live Example:

Kim prepared a memo in order to touch base with her fellow employees. The subject involved the due date of upcoming reports and how to troubleshoot accounting problems for the company’s biggest client. She keeps all of her documents in their new online document management system provided by a third party vendor. With the system in place, it makes it much easier to troubleshoot any new issues and track the results by updating reports associated with the issue. It also makes it less difficult to touch base with employees from various other offices around the world. The information is always up to date as long as the employees add in any new information and correct information that is outdated.

Kim writes effective reports by following the standard operating procedures and guidelines of her company. She clearly writes out and presents her findings based on well thought out research. It is easy to see the conclusion that she reaches at the end of her report and what to expect. Lastly, Kim is one of the best in the company at making recommendations, especially when it comes to new procedures and standards for new projects.

Live Conversation Example

Live Conversation Example:

Ann: Did you get that memo Kim sent out about troubleshooting IBM’s accounting problems?

Bill: No, was my name included?

Ann: I thought so. She just wanted to touch base with us on the upcoming report due to dates.

Bill: I guess I better ask Kim if I should have received the memo. The issue with IBM is a subject of many reports and memos.

Ann: Take a look at the latest memos in the online document management system. Tom said that all of the project’s documents are up to date.

Bill: What are the SOPs for accessing the new online document management system? The procedures seem to change on a weekly basis.

Ann: I will send you a link to the latest ones that are up to date. I look forward to reading your findings and recommendations when you complete your report.

Memos and Reports Practice


Are there standards for how you write reports and memos withing your organization? If not, should there be and why?

What should be written at the top of each report?

Be sure to write clear section headers to show the main points of the report. This helps the reader who might want to scan through the document to look for the main points that are important to them.

Always double check your report to ensure there are no spelling or grammar errors. You should also check to ensure that you reached an easy to understand conclusion and have made all of your main points.

What are some topics that you would research for a client or your boss? How would you present your findings?

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