There's an article on the internet written about how to write a report of an investigation.

However, I'm a bit confused of the usage of "investigation" and "investigative" in the article.

The link of the article is here: https://i-sight.com/resources/ultimate-guide-to-writing-investigation-reports/

In that article, they call it "Investigation reports" in the title, but they use "Investigative report" in the body of the article, instead.

I don't know whether this sort of usage is their mistake or it's grammatically correct. If they're absolutely correct, please explain to me the difference between "Investigation report" and "Investigative report".

And a side question, can I use "Investigating report"?

Many thanks.

  • They are both fine. I doubt most people would even notice the difference. The only difference I can see is if there was a single, official investigation under discussion, then the investigation report works as a compound noun. If talking about the class of such reports in general or an ad hoc investigation, I'd lean towards investigative reports.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 13:18
  • But no, “investigating report” would not be idiomatic. Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 2:06

2 Answers 2


For all intents and purpose, 'investigation report' and 'investigative report' should not matter in meaning, especially in the case of your source article, which seems to liberally switch between the two.

But I do perceive the difference.

'Investigation report' is a compound noun. It means the report of an investigation (which you might have made). The report has a neutral tone: you are simply presenting the facts and figures you have uncovered during your investigation.

In 'investigative report', 'report' is modified by the adjective 'investigative', meaning 'intended to examine something carefully'. In this case, the nature of the report becomes more of an argument. It implies that this report carefully examines evidence, argues for an idea, and draws conclusions or presents a theory. Perhaps you might have heard of investigative journalism or investigative reporter whose job is to discover the facts and present it in a manner that convinces the reader.

  • How about "Investigating report"? I feel that it's okay, it is?
    – Van
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 14:40
  • With 'investigating report', you intend to use 'investigate' as a present participle, which functions as an adjective to modify the nature of the report, like in 'an interesting film' or 'a singing bird'. The problem here is that the report cannot 'investigate'; it is the people that investigate. The English language is not horribly difficult, but tricky indeed!
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 7:38

Our friend Nick's response was comperehensively correct. I add up that making distinction between 'adjective modifier' and 'noun modifier' is the point. Adjective modifier like 'investigative' modifies the noun 'report' which denotes a particular type of the noun 'investigative type of report', while noun modifier is a noun 'investigation' which suggest that 'report' is about a particular matter 'investigation'.

  • This is a comment on another post, rather than an answer. It might be useful to read the guidance on How to Answer, and take the Tour of our site. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 23:35
  • @Chappo It does refer to another answer, but it is also at least a partial answer on its own, and we do take partial answers.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 15:27

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