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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT CASE ASSIGNMENTS AND PROJECTS If your grade for a particular written assignment or project was

not up to the level you expected, please check your paper for one or more of the following problems. These are the ones I have encountered most frequently in the past. GENERAL NOTES 1. DO NOT be a cheerleader for the product or service you will be advertising. Your report should not read like a promotional brochure from the company. Rather, it should balance the good with the bad. For example, you should never underestimate the strength or capabilities of competitors (even worse, you should never claim there are no competitors). 2. DO NOT make your report a mere summary of the information you gathered in your research. DO use the facts to support your analysis and recommendations. 3. DO support your report with meaningful tables, graphics, and figures. Like most executives, I love easy-to-understand displays of data. Do not reproduce information directly from other sources. Rather, integrate information from two or more sources into a new framework. 4. Make sure you have researched everything you need for the assignment. If you have not reported the market share, sales or profits, for example, I will tend to notice what's missing. 5. Develop all of your charts and graphs FIRST, then write the report. You will find this a lot easier than doing the report before the illustrations. 6. DO address all of the issues in the assignment guidelines I give you. DO NOT be afraid to go beyond the guidelines to identify additional issues that may be unique to your situation. 7. DO write about 2-3 pages more than the assignment requires, then edit your report down to the necessary length (as opposed to writing two pages less than the assignment requires and puffing the length with verbosity or a larger font size). If you had too much material for the length of the paper, and you had to subsequently reconfigure to get it all in, it will show (as will puffery). 8. DO NOT use an overblown or haughty writing style. Remember the old acronym K-I-S-S (Keep it Simple, Stupid). Get to the facts, use short sentences, and if you have many choices (for example, I could have used the words "multiple alternatives" rather than "many choices") of words, use the simplest choice. 9. DO structure your paper so that there is a summary of your findings in the first paragraph and again in the final paragraph. 10. DO label your supplemental tables and graphs by number in order of appearance. The best system is to call all items Exhibits. Label them Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2 and so forth. Make sure all tables are formatted in the same manner. When you refer to exhibits, do so as follows: IBM has

20 percent of the market (see Exhibit 1) or As shown in Exhibit 1 IBM has 20 percent of the market. 11. DO use the proper font. The appropriate font for technical papers is Times New Roman 12 point. You may stray from this if you have a project that is compatible with a different font (for example, the subject of your project is Victorias Secret). Otherwise, Times New Roman is the safe choice. SPECIFIC NOTES (VIOLATING ANY OF THESE WILL COST POINTS) 12. DO NOT forget to use the spell check function of your word processing program before you print your report. Spelling and grammar errors will tend to weigh very heavily in that you will get very little credit for proper spelling, but a great deal will be deducted for bad spelling and/or grammar. 13. DO NOT refer to companies and other non-personal entities as who. For example, rather than saying IBM and other companies who manufacture computers, replace who with that. DO refer to people as who. For example, rather than saying consumers that buy computers, replace with consumers who buy computers. Also, do not refer to companies as they. For example IBM provides computers for their customers is incorrect because IBM is a single entity, not plural. The correct form is IBM provides computers for its customers. 14. DO NOT change the tense for the duration of the paper. You can use present or past tense, but keep it the same throughout. An example of a sentence with a tense change (what not to do): The advertisements contained many references to culture and are very entertaining. The same applies to the entire paper. Every verb should be checked for tense at the proof reading stage. 15. DO NOT change from singular to plural or vice versa as you refer to things. Example of what not to do: The consumer wants good value for their money. In this example, either consumer needs to be changed to consumers or their needs to be changed to his or her or his or her according to preference. 16. DO write financial figures appropriately. $5,453,652,222 should be expressed as $5.5 billion. Place the dollar sign first and DO NOT repeat the word dollars at the end. If the number is round (no decimal) and ten or less, then write the total out, as in five billion dollars. Also, do not begin a sentence with a number. ALWAYS express financial figures in this manner in the narrative portion of your report. In tables, you may use raw figures. 17. DO write other quantitative information similarly. If the number is round and ten or less, write it out, otherwise express it in numerical form. DO NOT use the percent sign in your narrative. Instead, write the word percent. For example, IBM accounts for 20.2 percent of the computers sold in America as opposed to IBM accounts for 20.2% of the computers sold in America. 18. DO NOT resort to hand-drawn charts, illustrations or tables. ALWAYS make sure whatever you turn in is computer-generated, including the cover page. Occasionally, a student will discover

an error in a paper and correct it in pencil before turning it in. YOU SHOULD NOT DO THIS. It would be better to get a 10 minute extension, go to the lab, reprint the document, then turn it in. 19. DO pay attention to sentence structure. All statements ending in a period will be expected to be complete sentences with at least one noun and at least one verb. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to structure a fragment as a sentence for stylistic reasons. If you think you know when that is, I suggest you refrain from doing it until after you graduate. 20. DO know when the following apply and do not apply. If you are not sure, then be sure and have your document checked by a tutor for errors of this nature: affect versus effect then versus than youre versus your lose versus loose there versus their its versus its versus its 21. DO NOT put too much into parentheses. If you must stray at length from the main thesis of your paper, use footnotes. 22. DO always put punctuation inside of quotation marks. If the quotation comes at the end of a sentence, proceed two spaces after the quote before you start the next sentence. 23. DO know what words are compound, and which are not. The following are compound words: bandwagon businessperson cannot firsthand keystone mainstream nationwide payback salesperson stockholders stranglehold workforce workplace worldwide 24. DO NOT use the term etc. in your paper. One of the challenges of technical writing is to avoid the use of etc. The reason it should be avoided is that it raises a red flag in the mind of the reader that the writer may not know what the complete list of items is. 25. DO NOT slip into second person. Beyond the term etc. the word you or your should not appear in research papers. DO NOT use first person unless you establish it early in the paper. 26. Very little in business is drastic. Therefore, drastic is a word that should be avoided. For example: There are drastic changes occurring in the apparel industry. If there are changes, and they are having a huge impact, a better word is dramatic. Most of the time, the best word choice is significant. 27. Almost nothing is ever proven by research or anything else. For example, consider the following statement: More green apples sold than red ones, proving that people prefer green. A better word choice than proving is suggesting. 28. Companies do not ATTACK their customers. Take, for example, the following sentence: IBM developed a strategy to attack the small business market. A better choice is: IBM developed a strategy to appeal to the small business market.

29. Nothing revolves around or surrounds something else. Consider the following statement: IBMs business model revolves around the idea of personal computing or IBMs business model surrounds the idea of personal computing. The proper way to say this is IBMs business model is based on the idea of personal computing. And, finally, DO have fun! Report writing is challenging, and can be a very rewarding experience if you engage in it with enthusiasm and accept the gifts it gives you.