At work, we often hear others talking about reports. But what is reporting and what does reporting mean exactly? There are multiple types of reporting. Can you tell the difference?

In this article, I would like to introduce what reporting is and give you some examples to clarify the key concepts. Let’s dive in!

1. Reporting Definition: What is Reporting?

Reports use tables, charts, and other widgets to display data. Reporting can also be understood as the process of presenting the results of a series of research and analysis. All reports address some specific goal. They are structured to meet the reader’s expectations and deliver accurate and objective content.

Project Management
Progress Report (by FineReport)

Among all reports, the dashboard report is the most typical application that uses various visual elements. So it is often used as a visual representation of the company’s key performance indicators (KPI).

Dashboard Reporting Example
Dashboard Reporting (by FineReport)

The reports and dashboard examples in this article are all built-in templates made by FineReport. The software offers a free version for personal use.

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Difference between Analysis and Reports

Simply put, you can understand the report as a snapshot of the actual situation, and the analysis can be described as a further exploration of the phenomenon. Analysis and reporting are pretty different two terms. If you want to know in more detail, you can refer to: Reporting vs Analytics: Why Different & Which is More Needed?

Difference between BI and Reporting

Although sometimes the purpose is overlapping, the roles of reporting and BI tools are different. I listed the difference between the two in BI Reporting: Everything You Need To Know. You can also refer to the picture below to understand their difference.

Compare the Difference Between BI and Reporting
BI vs Report

2. What are the Types of Reports?

Formal or Informal

formal report is an official report. It tends to be a carefully structured and fixed style. Formal reports are usually facing professionals or external supervisors. Informal reports, by contrast, are generally developed with natural, casual use of language. More often, we can see that informal reports are for non-professionals or used internally.

Cash Flow Statement is a Kind of Formal Report
A cash flow statement is a kind of formal report

Informational or Analytical

Informational reports provide data, facts, feedback, and other types of information without analysis or recommendations.

Analytical reports, on the other hand, present attempts to solve problems. Analytical reports offer information, analysis, and recommendations.

Periodic Reports

Periodic reports are used to record data and summarize the results regularly. The reports can be categorized by intervals, such as daily reports, monthly reports, and yearly reports, or recorded at a custom interval.

Functional Reports

According to the functions carried out by the report, it can be divided into accounting reports, financial reports, marketing reports, sales reports, project reports, and so on.

Sales Analysis Dashboard
Sales Analysis Dashboard(by FineReport)

Of course, there are numerous ways of classifying reports. From a more specific and practical level, I wrote a post and listed the top 10 report types and examples that are often used in enterprise reporting systems. They are sorted by how they organize and display data, including detailed reports, group reports, pagination reports, etc.

Who to Report to? Reporting Structure

You can also define your statement based on the role of the reporter. A company’s reporting structures can be different depending on its corporate culture.

The hierarchy looks like a pyramid, with C-level executives at the top, followed by middle-level managers, and finally staff-level employees. The relatively flat report structure still maintains a certain hierarchy level, and the power will be more dispersed.

CFO Dashboard Reporting
CFO Dashboard (by FineReport)

When you present up or down, you are doing a vertical report. They may be more formal and structured. Lateral reports are more flowing within a similar level, and better collaboration has been reached. The rules on lateral reports tend to be more accessible and loose, but the information should be more up-to-date.

3. What is a Reporting Tool?

Reporting tools ensure the trustworthy basis of the information reported. Professional reporting software allows you to extract and present data in charts, tables, and other data visualizations effectively.

The goal of reporting tools and business intelligence tools is to translate data into actionable information. And actionable information empowers you with the knowledge to make better business decisions.


FineReport offers a range of features in the enterprise data-driven decision, including data preparation, data entry, report design, data visualization, dashboard, mobile reporting, decision-making platform, and so on.

FineReport provides you with a brand-new report-making experience.


FineReport supports quick connection to the data source through an Excel-like designer and creating a real-time report by dragging and dropping. It can be deployed independently or seamlessly integrated with other customized systems. Simply put, it is easy to learn, easy to use, and easy to implement.

Reporting Tool
Excel-like Interface-FineReport


FineReport has three report design modes to support the production of various complex reports, including data filling reports, responsive reports, etc, which can flexibly customize the needs of different reporting scenarios.

The data visualization function of FineReport is really powerful, more than 70 independently developed chart styles provide cool data visualization effects, which can meet almost any report demand. FineReport also has excellent dynamic effects and a powerful interactive experience. Various features can be set according to the needs during use, and can also be self-adjusted and displayed on the mobile terminal and large LED screen.


The data management system and the decision-making platform’s support can adapt to a series of situations, such as data recording, process approval, and authority management. Therefore, FineReport can flexibly respond to changing business needs, such as operations, human resources, financial management, contract management, etc.

4. Summary of Reporting Definition

Reporting is a common method of conveying information in companies. Depending on the objective, the function, format, structure, and elements of the report may vary. Tables, charts, and other visual widgets are often used in reports.
In this article, we have listed some templates and report examples. These templates are built-in in FineReport, and you can download them to experience FineReport’s expertise in enterprise reporting.

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FineReport provides localized services and technical support across various regions, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, the Middle East, and more. Click the button above to experience FineReport with a free trial download. For technical assistance, reach out to our support engineers.

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