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Technical Report Writing (TRW

)
Lecture ± 1 By: Farhana Hussain

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What is the course about?
y This course introduces students to the basic principles of

effective report writing.
y Learning practical application of report writing skills. y The purpose of this course is to provide students with all

basic concepts that qualify them to be able to communicate technical information effectively. y Understand how to index, reference and structure a technical document y using the technology available.
y It helps to write reports, data sheets and presentations in

order to communicate information of a technical nature.

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General Course Outline
y Introduction to Report Writing y Formats of Reports & Types of Reports y Stages of Report preparation y Grammar y Vocabulary y Seven C¶s y Persuasive Writing style y Letter/Paragraph Writing y CV /Resume Writing y Oral Presentation Skills y ««etc««««etc «««..

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Why TRW ?
y Reports play major role in businesses & organizations. y The better they are written, the better they are likely to

perform their role. y Business wants report to make sound decisions ,so it wants good report-writers. y Employees with good writing skills are bound to impress their higher management & thus rewarded personally. y The ability to write good reports is a requisite for business advancements.

What is TRW ?
y Technical report writing is the skill of

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writing a formal / technical document in order to present facts, findings & sometimes make recommendations.
y Technical report writing is one of the best vehicles through which you can

share the results of your research with others. In such case, writing is an invaluable assistance in the organization of your thoughts.
y Writing technical reports require your ability to arrange your thoughts

clearly, concisely, and logically.
y After all, a technical report is a formal report designed to convey technical

information in a clear and easily accessible format.
y It should be written in correct, non-colloquial language with due attention to

style, clarity, conciseness, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

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What are Technical Reports
y A report is simply ³presentation of information´ y A technical report is document which gives

information, reports findings, puts forward ideas and sometimes makes recommendations on a specific reader. y The vital role played by technical reports is that it helps in making decisions. y A technical report is a formal report designed to convey technical information in a clear and easily accessible format.

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y It is divided into sections which allow different readers y y

y

y

to access different levels of information. Technical reports present facts and conclusions about your designs and other projects. Typically, a technical report includes research about technical concepts as well as graphical depictions of designs and data. A technical report also follows a strict organization. This way, when other engineers read what you write, they can quickly locate the information that interests them the most. The major sections of the technical report are: title page, abstract, table of contents, introduction, results, conclusion, recommendations, references, and appendices.

Excuses for not writing

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THINK !
y I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is

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trying to please everybody. Bill Cosby

Moral: Recognize , know & target your Audience/readers

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Know your Audience
y Focus on your audience y Who are they? y How much do they know? y What do they expect?

Know your Audience«..consider following:
y

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Find out who your audience is.
y Is it one person or a group or several groups? y Are you writing a memo to a specific individual or instructions for ³typical´ workers?

y

Estimate how much they know. If they are advanced, they know what terms mean, and they understand the implications of sentences.
y If you are addressing beginners, you have to explain more.

y

Determine expectations. Expectations are the factors that affect the way in which the audience interprets your document.
y

Will it conform to their sense of what this kind of document should look and sound like?

y Will it help them act in the situation? y

Does it reflect a sense of the history of the situation or the consequences of acting?

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Basic Types of Users
1. Technical Users 2. Commercial Users 3. End-Users

Adaptation to Audience
y General

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define technical terms, use graphics, focus on how to use y Technicians focus on construction, installation and servicing, use graphics y Experts design or evaluation of technology y Executives costs, personnel, company politics, summary and conclusions y Mixed clear summary, non-technical language, details in appendix

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Report Writing Laws
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

The reader/audience is the most important person. Keep the report as short as possible. Organize for the convenience of the report user. All references should be correct in all details. The writing should be accurate, concise and unobtrusive. The right diagram with the right labels should be in the right place for the reader. Summaries give the whole picture, in miniature. Reports should be checked for technical errors, typing errors and inconsistency. The report should look as good as it is. The reader/audience is the most important person.

3 General Purposes/Functions of Reports
1. To give information y To state the history. Background of a particular project y To describe a process or an existing situation. y To enable a record to be kept for future use. 2. To report findings

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The findings include the information that you have obtained from your investigation & any experiments that you have conducted. Thus the report may need:
y To provide details on the progress of a project. y To explain the reasons for accidents, delays, damage etc. y To state the results of any experiments, surveys etc.

3. To put forward ideas (Purely Your Work)
Obtained information is analyzed objectively to formulate sound ideas and logical conclusions, which serve:
y To evaluate a proposal , system or piece of equipment y To propose a solution to a problem y To recommend improvements and actions to be taken.

Qualities of a Good Report
y Accuracy
y The information given in report must be accurate & updated.

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y Conciseness
y Conciseness applies to both content & language, only relevant

contents must be included & wordiness should be avoided.

y Completeness
y Beside being concise, it should be completed. Nothing relevant

should be omitted.

y Clarity

A report must be clear to specific reader in following areas: y Every good report has clear objectives. y The language must be easy to understand. y There must be a logical sequence in the presentation of information so that the reader can follow the progression of ideas without any difficulty. (beginning, middle, end) y The layout of the report must be neat and clear so that reader can easily locate any specific piece of information.

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´That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit. µ

-- Amos Bronson Alcott

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Common Mistakes to Avoid in TRW
Adhere carefully to the following guidelines:
y In the introduction of your report, clearly identify a focused welly y

y y y

defined question. Answer this question in the rest of your report. Analyze and interpret your data, and discuss the significance and limitations of your findings. Do not simply report your data. Be sure that your technical report is complete in the sense that it has each of the following components: descriptive title, author name and affiliation, date, informative abstract, list of keywords, body, acknowledgments, and references. In your abstract, specifically and concretely state your findings; do not vaguely describe what you set out to do. Your abstract should summarize, not introduce. Do not begin your abstract with the hackneyed phrase ``This paper.''

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´Reviewers are looking for an excuse to quit reading.µ

--Mark Henry, Bend Research

Report Ethics
Do·s
y Consider your reader y Go for easier style & language y Use indirect approach to soften y y y y y y

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Don·ts
y Never start with a question y Avoid jargons, slang ,sexist y y

the affect in some reports Explain all terms & formulas in appendices Sentence should be of normal length, neither long nor short. Fogg index should be considered Report should be free of biased views. Go for completeness but along with conciseness Etc««««««. etc

y y y y y

remarks Writing style should NOT be emotional or critical Writing style should not be extra ordinary explanatory or persuasive No personal views Avoid being bossy (³my´ or ³I´ attitude) Avoid repetition of any kind Don¶t copy style of other TR¶s, Be Yourself ! Etc««««««. etc

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Checklist for Effective Technical Style

Common Elements/Contents/Sections of a Report
Title page 2. Disclaimer 3. Abstract
1.
y

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which summarizes the report contents, written last

4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
y

Acknowledgments Table of Contents List of tables , Symbols & figures Executive Summary (if required) Introduction
which introduces the work, provides the motivation and context and outlines other related work

History / Technical Background (if required) 10. Main Section or Body of the report
9.
y

which document the core technical work

Ctd««..sections of a report
11 . Recommendations/Suggestions (if required) 12 . Experiments & Results (if required) 13 . Conclusion/Summary
y

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which may also identify appropriate future work

14 . Future Enhancements (if required) 15 . Appendix 16 . References

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Executive Summary
y for decision makers y free of technical jargon y one page y important conclusions and recommendations y no reference to body of report y paragraph format y written last

Pre-Writing Stage: Considerations before writing a Report
y y y y y y y y y y y y y

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What is the object/purpose of report What is the scope of report What constraints affect my writing or repot Am I capable of writing on this topic Who is the reader/audience What is the level of reader¶s knowledge What are the reader¶s opinions or expectations What are the basic facts Where to look for actual facts & figures What will be the contents Which report format & visual aids should be suitable What style should be adopted in the report What tone/approach should be adopted in addressing the readers

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Stages of a Report Preparation
The five major stages of report preparation are :
1. Gathering the data (or developing the theory) 2. Analyzing and sorting the results 3. Outlining the report 4. Writing the rough draft 5. Revising the rough draft

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STAGE - 1

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´Don·t write in a vacuum. Do *patent and literature searches before you begin.µ

--Mark Henry, Bend Research
*Patent = clear and unambiguous manner

Stage 1 : Gathering the data
y Report preparation begins with planning the research program. y An orderly investigation is a requisite for an orderly report y Report planning and program planning should be considered one and

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the same. stage.

y Should prepare a preliminary report outline at the beginning of the

y Maintain Orderly records as the data are gathered y

Opinions should be written as soon as the data are obtained .

y Comparing these opinions with those based on hindsight will often

help to interpret the data properly.

y During the data-gathering stage consider how the data should be

presented in the report and record the results in this manner

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STAGE - 2

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Stage 2 : Analyzing the data
y The second stage of report preparation, data analysis y

y y

y

and sorting. It is probably the most difficult because it requires considerable mental effort to decide what you want to tell your readers. During this data review, the conclusions should be drawn. This is the most important step in report preparation because the conclusions are the reason for the report and the basis for report preparation. They dictate what to include in a report and how to organize it.

Ctd««..stage 2
y Therefore choose your report destination early by

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y

y y y

drawing and clearly defining the conclusions before you begin to organize and write the report . This is best done by first writing down all significant results in no particular order and then sorting them so that the results pertaining to a common factor are grouped together Once the conclusions are drawn, list them in descending order of importance. Selection of the data to be used in the report is another important part of this step. Excessive data or data only loosely related to the conclusions will obscure them and confuse the readers.

Ctd««..stage 2
y The next step in data analysis involves organizing

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the selected data into illustrations for the report y figures and tables usually must be prepared. y Their organization should be carefully considered because illustrations are one of the best means of emphasizing and supporting conclusions. y After the illustrations have been prepared, write the significant points about each on an attached sheet of paper.

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STAGE - 3

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Stage 3 : Outlining the Report
y Outlining is a necessary preliminary step to report

writing.
y It involves the planning needed to prepare a clear

report that is logically organized, concise, and easy to read.
y Without an outline most inexperienced authors write

reports that are confusing and difficult to follow.
y The outlining stage is a natural progression from the

analysis and sorting stage.

Ctd««..stage 3
y In the sorting stage concentration is on what results should

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be presented in a report.

y In the outlining stage attention is directed to how these

results should be presented.

y Often the preliminary outline is used as a starting point for

the report outline. But it should be revised and expanded to emphasize the conclusions drawn in the analysis and sorting stage.
y The revised outline should contain descriptive headings of

each significant part of the report.

Ctd««..stage 3
y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y

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Summary Introduction Symbols Theory Analysis Apparatus Test Specimens Test Procedure Sample Calculation Results and Discussion Summary of Results Conclusions Concluding Remarks Appendix References

y All these headings need not be used in any single report.

Ctd««..stage 3
Specimens, and Test Procedure can be combined into Experimental Methods.
y These commonly used headings may be replaced with

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y headings may be combined. For example, Apparatus, Test

more descriptive headings, reports with more descriptive headings provide a means of ready reference and aid clarity.
y Descriptive headings usually make a report more

interesting to read. But originality must be exercised to make them brief but clear.
y They should be consistent in grammatical structure and

should not contain verbs.

Ctd««..stage 3
y Headings are not an integral part of the text but are

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provided to assist the reader in finding information.

y Therefore the paragraph below a heading should begin

with a topic sentence that does not depend on the heading for clarity.

y Several methods can be used to arrange the subject

matter that will be represented in an outline.
y One of the best ways to start is to write down all the points

that you want to include without regard to their order.
y It can be arranged more easily in a logical order.

Ctd««..stage 3
y Another useful purpose of the outline is to indicate the

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relative importance of headings.
y Headings of equal weight, or importance, must be written

in the same form.
y Main Heading y Subheading y Sub ±sub heading

y Three levels of headings should be sufficient; more

may disrupt your readers' concentration.

y Thorough outlining will make both writing and reading

the report easier

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STAGE - 4

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Stage 4 : Writing the Rough Draft
y With a logically organized outline and the necessary illustrations already

prepared, writing the rough draft should be much easier.
y Do not expect to write the final version in the first attempt y The rough draft should be the last of several versions, each an

improvement of the preceding one.
y This final version is considered a "rough" draft because it still must go

through a series of technical and editorial reviews .
y But it should be as polished as we can make it . y The first version of the draft should be written immediately after

completing the outline while the ideas developed there are still fresh in mind.
y The first version should be written as rapidly as possible.

ctd««..stage 4
y Concentrate on what to say rather than how to say it .

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y Keep writing down the thoughts as they flow into the mind, following your

outline.
y In the second version of the rough draft, writing style becomes important. y With the technical content in a well-organized form from the first version,

this is the time to concentrate on how we say it.
y Readers should be kept in mind. Remember, the purpose in writing the

report is to transmit the information needed to support the conclusions.
y To make sure readers understand the conclusions, we must transmit our

information clearly, logically, concisely, honestly, and tactfully.

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STAGE - 5

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Stage 5 : Revising the Rough Draft
y The last stage of report preparation, rough-draft y

y y y y

revision, is just as important as the previous stages. Revising a draft is comparable to painting a house: the appearance is improved without influencing the structure. But a report's "appearance" (readability) may determine whether or not it is read. Before revising the rough draft, we must recognize that it is not perfect. Approach it with a critical attitude. This can best be done by setting the draft aside for a few days, or at least overnight.

ctd««..stage 5
y This time lag should give a fresh viewpoint and allow

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to change to the role of a reader. y This change in roles is most important because we must try to see what is actually written rather than what we think we wrote.
y Successful technical writers use a wide variety of

methods to review and revise. One of the best involves three separate reviews of the report.

ctd««..stage 5
Three Separate Reviews Of The Report
1. The first review is of the material in the report. In

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this check ask yourself these questions: 
   

Are the conclusions valid? Is sufficient information given to support the conclusions? Is enough background information given to explain the results? Have all irrelevant ideas been deleted? Are the illustrations pertinent and necessary?

ctd««..stage 5
2.The second review is of the mechanics and organization. 
   

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Are the subject and purpose clearly stated? Does the report flow smoothly from topic to topic? Are the relations between topics clear? Is each illustration clear and properly labeled? Are all required parts of the report included?

3. The third review is of spelling and grammar particularly punctuation and sentence structure. 
Is each sentence written effectively?  Are the sentences varied in length and complexity to

avoid monotony?  Are the words specific rather than vague?  Have all unnecessary words been deleted?

ctd««..stage 5
y Make sure you can truly answer yes to all of these

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questions before you consider your draft finished. Do not try to make one review do the work of three. usually results in oversights and errors.

y Trying to cover too many categories in one review

y Some common faults observed in rough drafts are
a. faulty grammar; b. clusters of nouns and adjectives modifying a noun and

conversely strings of prepositional phrases after a noun; c. use of abstract nouns instead of action verbs; d. nonparallel construction of words, phrases, and sentences in enumerations; e. more complicated phrasings than required .

Word List 1
S.No
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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Words
Abhor Bigot Counterfeit Enfranchise Hamper Noxious Placid Remuneration Abrasive Bilk Rigor

Meanings
hate narrow-minded, prejudiced person fake; false give voting rights hinder; obstruct harmful; poisonous; lethal calm; peaceful payment for work done rough; coarse; harsh cheat; defraud thoroughness

Word List 2
S.No
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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Words
Covert Engender Cower Knotty Nuance Plagiarism

Meanings
hidden; undercover cause recoil in fear or servility; shrink away from complex; difficult to solve something subtle; a fine shade of meaning taking credit for someone else's writing or ideas

Harangue Ornate Abasement Billowing Officious

noisy, attacking speech highly decorated humiliation; degradation swelling; fluttering; waving

domineering; intrusive; meddlesome

Word List 3
S.No Words 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Abrogate Callow Blighted Enigma Despondent Predicament Procrastinate Reprehensible Tardy Odious Prevaricate

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Meanings
cancel; deny; repeal immature damaged; destroyed; ruined puzzle; mystery having no hope; miserable dilemma; difficult situation delay; put off shameful; very bad slow; late; overdue; delayed hateful speak misleadingly and evasively