Technical Writing

Report Writing Procedure

1

The 5 Phases of Report Writing • Basically. there are five phases involved in putting a technical report together: – Data gathering – Preliminary organisation – Initial draft preparation – Revision – Final inspection 2 .

3 . • As an engineer on the job.Data Gathering • As an engineering writer. you usually start with minimal knowledge of a subject. you will find that you already group most of the information you need for a report and that bulk of the remaining specific data is available from your daily work. collect additional information on the subject and then write a summary of what you have learned.

Data Gathering • It is usually true that the problem you will be facing is not finding enough information but rather how to limit and select from the data you have at hand. • There are four main methods of obtaining technical data and information: – Direct observation and experience – Testing and experimentation – Consultations – Library and web research 4 .

5 .) and write out your analysis.Preliminary Organisation • Perform a detailed communication context analysis (purpose and audience…etc. • On several sheets of paper.the specific items of information that you might include in the report. write down -in random order as they occur to you.

6 .Preliminary Organisation • Gather related items of information together: – Use index cards and post it notes to label your items – Collect items that have similar labels together in piles or box-files – Think of a title for each pile or box-file • Separate unrelated items of information and place them in a miscellaneous pile.

• Give some thought to the arrangement of the different groups you have: – Are they related in any way? – Do some things have to be understood before others can be? – Should information be presented chronologically or in order of importance? 7 . repeat the same procedure with each group to create sub-titles.Preliminary Organisation • If the amount of information is large enough.

Initial Draft Preparation • Regard everything you write at this stage as something you are going to have to write over again. The primary job in this phase is just getting ideas into words. 8 . • Use double spacing and leave large margins in your draft to make it easy to revise and re-write. • Do not strive for perfection first time round.

leave it. • Start with the easiest section or the section you know most first. 9 . move to another section and then come back for it later. The introduction is usually the hardest part of your report. • If you get stuck at a certain section.Initial Draft Preparation • Do not start at the beginning with your introduction.

10 . • Consider using a tape recorder for getting your ideas down smoothly.Initial Draft Preparation • Pick your most productive time of the day to do your initial draft writing and block out significant amount of time for this task. • To be effective in draft writing. you should have all your information at hand and be enthusiastic to write it down.

Revisions • The primary suggestion for the revision phase is to give yourself some time ( a couple of days ) before you start. • Do your major revisions first. 11 . and then do your minor revisions. • Reorganisation: – The entire report may need to be reorganised or only some sections or paragraphs.

12 .Major Revisions • Completeness and brevity: – This may include addition or deletion of large blocks of information. • Writing style: – The writing style must be revised at the paragraph. • Graphics and illustrations: – Consider the notes that will be mentioned later. sentence and word level.

grammar. word usage and overall smoothness. word choice and so on. then do the same for punctuation. • The main recommendation here is to do the minor revisions on multiple stages.Revisions • Minor revisions include: punctuation. spelling. 13 . • Go through the entire report looking for spelling.

and then make the changes section by section.Final Inspection • The main aim of this stage is elimination of errors and achieving an excellent document. • Mark everything to be changed. • Check for the following: – Typographical errors – Missing or repeated words or phrases – Missing page numbers or pages out of order 14 .

or margins 15 .Final Inspection – Misspellings of people’s names or names of firms – Mistakes in numerical data. tables and figures – Inconsistencies in abbreviations or the use of symbols – Inconsistencies in terminology and references – Inconsistencies between section headings and the table of contents – Inconsistencies in headings formatting. fonts. line spacing.

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