My long-held understanding of the terminology of reporting has always been as follows:

  • I can Design (or Create) a report Template
  • The Template defines the Layout and Criteria of a report
  • I can then Run the Template against a data source to generate a Report (which is the output - PDF,CSV etc)

Looking at SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce - they all follow this terminology - you create a report, then you run it...

However, there seems to be widespread misuse of terms, and I frequently see the term "Report" being used to describe the template as well as the output, and the term "Create" being used in place of "Run".

In both cases these alternate uses of terms can cause ambiguity e.g.

  • If I want to "delete a report" am I deleting the template or the output?
  • If I want to "create a report" am I creating the template or the output?

So, I'd be grateful for a community view on the following 2 questions:

  • Is Run the correct/established verb for generating a report output from a template?
  • Is there a definitive standard or golden source for this terminology?

When it comes to terminology, there is always a distinction between what the SME (subject matter experts) use and what makes sense to the end-users (who can also be SMEs but not always).

So when you are trying to describe something that fits into an overall framework or accepted way of communicating between professionals, you might find that it is best to stick with what the companies or vendors prescribe in their documentation.

However, when it comes to applying the labels and assisting the users with using the application, you have to make a decision about your overall strategy in terms of a consistent writing style guide that either uses the defined terms or test with users to see what makes most sense in the context of their worok.

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