Information on Technical Communication

 Reader Analysis
 Formal Report
 Analytical Report
 Typography Hints
 Instruction Basics
 Memo Format
 Oral Report
 Progress Reports
 Letter of Application
 Simple HTML

Progress Reports

Progress reports are documents about work technical communicators have begun but not yet completed. These documents provide an accounting of the work that communicators have done and of the circumstances under which those duties were completed. Two situations are typical: One, in which communicators report on one specific project; the other, in which they report on all their work. The first situation is more common in the workplace.

Although technical communicators reference completed work as well as work in progress, progress reports are primarily concerned with plans for the future since those hinge upon the accomplishments of communicators to date. These documents have a persuasive quality in that technical communicators must use them to ensure their readers that they're capable of handling the tasks that have been assigned to them and that will be assigned to them in the future.

Readers want to know that progress report writers have done everything within reason to accomplish their duties, that they have completed them with diligence, and that they have made wise choices of action based on sound research and logical reasoning. For this reason, their credibility usually rests on the level and quality of detail they provide in the report.

Effective communicators use active voice to explain in detail, all the work they have completed and what they have yet left to finish. The most important part of the progress report will explain the action communicators plan to take to complete the duties that they have reported in the beginning of the document. They ensure their readers that they can complete their duties well and within the allotted time frame.

Readers may refer to progress reports for evaluative purposes, to aid in making decisions for division of duties, or to gather information in order to aid in managing a project as one of many that most managers juggle simultaneously (and for which they are ultimately responsible).

The progress report has the additional benefit of providing the writer(s) of the document with a clear sense of what they've accomplished so far and what yet needs to be completed. The document helps writers evaluate their own accomplishments and focus on the most important duties to be finished within a set time frame.

  • Overview- includes a brief summary of the document contents

  • Introduction-describes the purpose of the document and the reported work

  • Facts and Discussion: Past Work; Future Work

    Accounting of work completed- indicates whether the work is going as planned

    Accounting of problems encountered with work not completed

    Plans for handling problem areas

    Evaluation of progress to date

  • Conclusions/Recommendations- Plans for completing tasks