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Guide to Technical Report Writing
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School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)
Table of contents
2 structure, 3 presentation, 4 planning the report, 5 writing the first draft, 6 revising the first draft, 7 diagrams, graphs, tables and mathematics, 8 the report layout, 10 references to diagrams, graphs, tables and equations, 11 originality and plagiarism, 12 finalising the report and proofreading, 13 the summary, 14 proofreading, 15 word processing / desktop publishing, 16 recommended reading.
A technical report is a formal report designed to convey technical information in a clear and easily accessible format. It is divided into sections which allow different readers to access different levels of information. This guide explains the commonly accepted format for a technical report; explains the purposes of the individual sections; and gives hints on how to go about drafting and refining a report in order to produce an accurate, professional document.
A technical report should contain the following sections;
For technical reports required as part of an assessment, the following presentation guidelines are recommended;
There are some excellent textbooks contain advice about the writing process and how to begin (see Section 16 ). Here is a checklist of the main stages;
- Collect your information. Sources include laboratory handouts and lecture notes, the University Library, the reference books and journals in the Department office. Keep an accurate record of all the published references which you intend to use in your report, by noting down the following information; Journal article: author(s) title of article name of journal (italic or underlined) year of publication volume number (bold) issue number, if provided (in brackets) page numbers Book: author(s) title of book (italic or underlined) edition, if appropriate publisher year of publication N.B. the listing of recommended textbooks in section 2 contains all this information in the correct format.
- Creative phase of planning. Write down topics and ideas from your researched material in random order. Next arrange them into logical groups. Keep note of topics that do not fit into groups in case they come in useful later. Put the groups into a logical sequence which covers the topic of your report.
- Structuring the report. Using your logical sequence of grouped ideas, write out a rough outline of the report with headings and subheadings.
N.B. the listing of recommended textbooks in Section 16 contains all this information in the correct format.
Who is going to read the report? For coursework assignments, the readers might be fellow students and/or faculty markers. In professional contexts, the readers might be managers, clients, project team members. The answer will affect the content and technical level, and is a major consideration in the level of detail required in the introduction.
Begin writing with the main text, not the introduction. Follow your outline in terms of headings and subheadings. Let the ideas flow; do not worry at this stage about style, spelling or word processing. If you get stuck, go back to your outline plan and make more detailed preparatory notes to get the writing flowing again.
Make rough sketches of diagrams or graphs. Keep a numbered list of references as they are included in your writing and put any quoted material inside quotation marks (see Section 11 ).
Write the Conclusion next, followed by the Introduction. Do not write the Summary at this stage.
This is the stage at which your report will start to take shape as a professional, technical document. In revising what you have drafted you must bear in mind the following, important principle;
- the essence of a successful technical report lies in how accurately and concisely it conveys the intended information to the intended readership.
During year 1, term 1 you will be learning how to write formal English for technical communication. This includes examples of the most common pitfalls in the use of English and how to avoid them. Use what you learn and the recommended books to guide you. Most importantly, when you read through what you have written, you must ask yourself these questions;
- Does that sentence/paragraph/section say what I want and mean it to say? If not, write it in a different way.
- Are there any words/sentences/paragraphs which could be removed without affecting the information which I am trying to convey? If so, remove them.
It is often the case that technical information is most concisely and clearly conveyed by means other than words. Imagine how you would describe an electrical circuit layout using words rather than a circuit diagram. Here are some simple guidelines;
The appearance of a report is no less important than its content. An attractive, clearly organised report stands a better chance of being read. Use a standard, 12pt, font, such as Times New Roman, for the main text. Use different font sizes, bold, italic and underline where appropriate but not to excess. Too many changes of type style can look very fussy.
Use heading and sub-headings to break up the text and to guide the reader. They should be based on the logical sequence which you identified at the planning stage but with enough sub-headings to break up the material into manageable chunks. The use of numbering and type size and style can clarify the structure as follows;
- In the main text you must always refer to any diagram, graph or table which you use.
- Label diagrams and graphs as follows; Figure 1.2 Graph of energy output as a function of wave height. In this example, the second diagram in section 1 would be referred to by "...see figure 1.2..."
- Label tables in a similar fashion; Table 3.1 Performance specifications of a range of commercially available GaAsFET devices In this example, the first table in section 3 might be referred to by "...with reference to the performance specifications provided in Table 3.1..."
- Number equations as follows; F(dB) = 10*log 10 (F) (3.6) In this example, the sixth equation in section 3 might be referred to by "...noise figure in decibels as given by eqn (3.6)..."
Whenever you make use of other people's facts or ideas, you must indicate this in the text with a number which refers to an item in the list of references. Any phrases, sentences or paragraphs which are copied unaltered must be enclosed in quotation marks and referenced by a number. Material which is not reproduced unaltered should not be in quotation marks but must still be referenced. It is not sufficient to list the sources of information at the end of the report; you must indicate the sources of information individually within the report using the reference numbering system.
Information that is not referenced is assumed to be either common knowledge or your own work or ideas; if it is not, then it is assumed to be plagiarised i.e. you have knowingly copied someone else's words, facts or ideas without reference, passing them off as your own. This is a serious offence . If the person copied from is a fellow student, then this offence is known as collusion and is equally serious. Examination boards can, and do, impose penalties for these offences ranging from loss of marks to disqualification from the award of a degree
This warning applies equally to information obtained from the Internet. It is very easy for markers to identify words and images that have been copied directly from web sites. If you do this without acknowledging the source of your information and putting the words in quotation marks then your report will be sent to the Investigating Officer and you may be called before a disciplinary panel.
Your report should now be nearly complete with an introduction, main text in sections, conclusions, properly formatted references and bibliography and any appendices. Now you must add the page numbers, contents and title pages and write the summary.
The summary, with the title, should indicate the scope of the report and give the main results and conclusions. It must be intelligible without the rest of the report. Many people may read, and refer to, a report summary but only a few may read the full report, as often happens in a professional organisation.
- Purpose - a short version of the report and a guide to the report.
- Length - short, typically not more than 100-300 words
- Content - provide information, not just a description of the report.
This refers to the checking of every aspect of a piece of written work from the content to the layout and is an absolutely necessary part of the writing process. You should acquire the habit of never sending or submitting any piece of written work, from email to course work, without at least one and preferably several processes of proofreading. In addition, it is not possible for you, as the author of a long piece of writing, to proofread accurately yourself; you are too familiar with what you have written and will not spot all the mistakes.
When you have finished your report, and before you staple it, you must check it very carefully yourself. You should then give it to someone else, e.g. one of your fellow students, to read carefully and check for any errors in content, style, structure and layout. You should record the name of this person in your acknowledgements.
Two useful tips;
- Do not bother with style and formatting of a document until the penultimate or final draft.
- Do not try to get graphics finalised until the text content is complete.
- Davies J.W. Communication Skills - A Guide for Engineering and Applied Science Students (2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 2001)
- van Emden J. Effective communication for Science and Technology (Palgrave 2001)
- van Emden J. A Handbook of Writing for Engineers 2nd ed. (Macmillan 1998)
- van Emden J. and Easteal J. Technical Writing and Speaking, an Introduction (McGraw-Hill 1996)
- Pfeiffer W.S. Pocket Guide to Technical Writing (Prentice Hall 1998)
- Eisenberg A. Effective Technical Communication (McGraw-Hill 1992)
Updated and revised by the Department of Engineering & Design, November 2022
School Office: School of Engineering and Informatics, University of Sussex, Chichester 1 Room 002, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QJ [email protected] T 01273 (67) 8195 School Office opening hours: School Office open Monday – Friday 09:00-15:00, phone lines open Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00 School Office location [PDF 1.74MB]
Copyright © 2023, University of Sussex
Technical Writing is Easy
Sep 27, 2019
How to Write Technical Report
Faq on technical writing.
A technical report is a document that describes the progress, results, or process of scientific or technical research. A technical report may also include some conclusions and/or recommendations of the research. Technical reports are considered to be “non-archival” publications so that they can be published elsewhere in peer-reviewed venues with or without modification. ~ ClickHelp Glossary
Here I’ll describe what you should do before writing, and what elements a usual tech report includes.
So, before starting to write a report, you should do some preparations:
- Establish the message of your report. You should clearly understand for what reason you’re writing and what information you want to provide your documentation.
- Define your audience . The process of writing a tech report is the same as writing documentation. Before starting to write a tech report, define your target audience to make your content more relevant to them — if people of your field read your report, it can be more “technical” in language and detail. In another case, cut back on the jargon for non-expert readers.
- Create an outline . Technical reports are usually very structured, so create a draft to follow it to make your report clear and well-structured.
Here are the elements of a technical report:
Let’s examine them in detail.
The title page comes first in a technical report. It contains the title, the date, institution details, and the like. Keep in mind, that the content of the title page is not added up to the word count of a report.
In this part, highlight the main goals of your paper clearly to help your readers understand the purpose you’re writing for. You can also describe the flow of your report to let your readers know what they should expect.
Write an overview of the whole report here. It usually includes the results and conclusions.
This is the main part of your report because it carries your content. Introduce the information using small subheadings to make the body section more presentable and clear, so readers will be guided with these subheadings.
You can also use bulleted or numbered lists to point main ideas in order to help your readers understand what are you talking about.
A conclusion implies a summary of the main points that you report in the body, what decision you came. Use words to show that you are concluding your work to prepare readers that you’re about to finish. The conclusion should be short and concise. But the main idea is to cover every question that a reader may ask.
This part states the details of the technical report subject.
In a bibliography, list the sources you use for writing the report and research. When you finished with your report, it’s a good idea to use a plagiarism tool from this list: ‘ Top 10 Free Plagiarism Detection Tools ’ to prove whether there is plagiarism in your work or not.
Here you should list all the people who took part in writing this tech report, who helped you, who proofread your work and so on. So, appreciate other people’s efforts.
In this section, you should include graphs or diagrams but if you don’t have any materials, just skip the section.
What techniques help you write technical reports?
How did I become a technical writer? What skills do you need? Read FAQ on Technical Writing .
Many people who are interested in technical writing frequently ask me a lot of different questions, but here are the…, more from technical writing is easy.
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Technical Report: What is it & How to Write it? (Steps & Structure Included)
A technical report can either act as a cherry on top of your project or can ruin the entire dough.
Everything depends on how you write and present it.
A technical report is a sole medium through which the audience and readers of your project can understand the entire process of your research or experimentation.
So, you basically have to write a report on how you managed to do that research, steps you followed, events that occurred, etc., taking the reader from the ideation of the process and then to the conclusion or findings.
Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?
Well hopefully after reading this entire article, it won’t.
However, note that there is no specific standard determined to write a technical report. It depends on the type of project and the preference of your project supervisor.
With that in mind, let’s dig right in!
What is a Technical Report? (Definition)
A technical report is described as a written scientific document that conveys information about technical research in an objective and fact-based manner. This technical report consists of the three key features of a research i.e process, progress, and results associated with it.
Some common areas in which technical reports are used are agriculture, engineering, physical, and biomedical science. So, such complicated information must be conveyed by a report that is easily readable and efficient.
Now, how do we decide on the readability level?
The answer is simple – by knowing our target audience.
A technical report is considered as a product that comes with your research, like a guide for it.
You study the target audience of a product before creating it, right?
Similarly, before writing a technical report, you must keep in mind who your reader is going to be.
Whether it is professors, industry professionals, or even customers looking to buy your project – studying the target audience enables you to start structuring your report. It gives you an idea of the existing knowledge level of the reader and how much information you need to put in the report.
Many people tend to put in fewer efforts in the report than what they did in the actual research..which is only fair.
We mean, you’ve already worked so much, why should you go through the entire process again to create a report?
Well then, let’s move to the second section where we talk about why it is absolutely essential to write a technical report accompanying your project.
Read more: What is a Progress Report and How to Write One?
Importance of Writing a Technical Report
1. efficient communication.
Technical reports are used by industries to convey pertinent information to upper management. This information is then used to make crucial decisions that would impact the company in the future.
Examples of such technical reports include proposals, regulations, manuals, procedures, requests, progress reports, emails, and memos.
2. Evidence for your work
Most of the technical work is backed by software.
However, graduation projects are not.
So, if you’re a student, your technical report acts as the sole evidence of your work. It shows the steps you took for the research and glorifies your efforts for a better evaluation.
3. Organizes the data
A technical report is a concise, factual piece of information that is aligned and designed in a standard manner. It is the one place where all the data of a project is written in a compact manner that is easily understandable by a reader.
4. Tool for evaluation of your work
Professors and supervisors mainly evaluate your research project based on the technical write-up for it. If your report is accurate, clear, and comprehensible, you will surely bag a good grade.
A technical report to research is like Robin to Batman.
Best results occur when both of them work together.
So, how can you write a technical report that leaves the readers in a ‘wow’ mode? Let’s find out!
How to Write a Technical Report?
When writing a technical report, there are two approaches you can follow, depending on what suits you the best.
- Top-down approach- In this, you structure the entire report from title to sub-sections and conclusion and then start putting in the matter in the respective chapters. This allows your thought process to have a defined flow and thus helps in time management as well.
- Evolutionary delivery- This approach is suitable if you’re someone who believes in ‘go with the flow’. Here the author writes and decides as and when the work progresses. This gives you a broad thinking horizon. You can even add and edit certain parts when some new idea or inspiration strikes.
A technical report must have a defined structure that is easy to navigate and clearly portrays the objective of the report. Here is a list of pages, set in the order that you should include in your technical report.
Cover page- It is the face of your project. So, it must contain details like title, name of the author, name of the institution with its logo. It should be a simple yet eye-catching page.
Title page- In addition to all the information on the cover page, the title page also informs the reader about the status of the project. For instance, technical report part 1, final report, etc. The name of the mentor or supervisor is also mentioned on this page.
Abstract- Also referred to as the executive summary, this page gives a concise and clear overview of the project. It is written in such a manner that a person only reading the abstract can gain complete information on the project.
Preface – It is an announcement page wherein you specify that you have given due credits to all the sources and that no part of your research is plagiarised. The findings are of your own experimentation and research.
Dedication- This is an optional page when an author wants to dedicate their study to a loved one. It is a small sentence in the middle of a new page. It is mostly used in theses.
Acknowledgment- Here, you acknowledge the people parties, and institutions who helped you in the process or inspired you for the idea of it.
Table of contents – Each chapter and its subchapter is carefully divided into this section for easy navigation in the project. If you have included symbols, then a similar nomenclature page is also made. Similarly, if you’ve used a lot of graphs and tables, you need to create a separate content page for that. Each of these lists begins on a new page.
Introduction- Finally comes the introduction, marking the beginning of your project. On this page, you must clearly specify the context of the report. It includes specifying the purpose, objectives of the project, the questions you have answered in your report, and sometimes an overview of the report is also provided. Note that your conclusion should answer the objective questions.
Central Chapter(s)- Each chapter should be clearly defined with sub and sub-sub sections if needed. Every section should serve a purpose. While writing the central chapter, keep in mind the following factors:
- Clearly define the purpose of each chapter in its introduction.
- Any assumptions you are taking for this study should be mentioned. For instance, if your report is targeting globally or a specific country. There can be many assumptions in a report. Your work can be disregarded if it is not mentioned every time you talk about the topic.
- Results you portray must be verifiable and not based upon your opinion. (Big no to opinions!)
- Each conclusion drawn must be connected to some central chapter.
Conclusion- The purpose of the conclusion is to basically conclude any and everything that you talked about in your project. Mention the findings of each chapter, objectives reached, and the extent to which the given objectives were reached. Discuss the implications of the findings and the significant contribution your research made.
Appendices- They are used for complete sets of data, long mathematical formulas, tables, and figures. Items in the appendices should be mentioned in the order they were used in the project.
References- This is a very crucial part of your report. It cites the sources from which the information has been taken from. This may be figures, statistics, graphs, or word-to-word sentences. The absence of this section can pose a legal threat for you. While writing references, give due credit to the sources and show your support to other people who have studied the same genres.
Bibliography- Many people tend to get confused between references and bibliography. Let us clear it out for you. References are the actual material you take into your research, previously published by someone else. Whereas a bibliography is an account of all the data you read, got inspired from, or gained knowledge from, which is not necessarily a direct part of your research.
Style ( Pointers to remember )
Let’s take a look at the writing style you should follow while writing a technical report:
- Avoid using slang or informal words. For instance, use ‘cannot’ instead of can’t.
- Use a third-person tone and avoid using words like I, Me.
- Each sentence should be grammatically complete with an object and subject.
- Two sentences should not be linked via a comma.
- Avoid the use of passive voice.
- Tenses should be carefully employed. Use present for something that is still viable and past for something no longer applicable.
- Readers should be kept in mind while writing. Avoid giving them instructions. Your work is to make their work of evaluation easier.
- Abbreviations should be avoided and if used, the full form should be mentioned.
- Understand the difference between a numbered and bulleted list. Numbering is used when something is explained sequence-wise. Whereas bullets are used to just list out points in which sequence is not important.
- All the preliminary pages (title, abstract, preface..) should be named in small roman numerals. ( i, ii, iv..)
- All the other pages should be named in Arabic numerals (1,2,3..) thus, your report begins with 1 – on the introduction page.
- Separate long texts into small paragraphs to keep the reader engaged. A paragraph should not be more than 10 lines.
- Do not incorporate too many fonts. Use standard times new roman 12pt for the text. You can use bold for headlines.
If you think your work ends when the report ends, think again. Proofreading the report is a very important step. While proofreading you see your work from a reader’s point of view and you can correct any small mistakes you might have done while typing. Check everything from content to layout, and style of writing.
Finally comes the presentation of the report in which you submit it to an evaluator.
- It should be printed single-sided on an A4 size paper. double side printing looks chaotic and messy.
- Margins should be equal throughout the report.
- You can use single staples on the left side for binding or use binders if the report is long.
AND VOILA! You’re done.
…and don’t worry, if the above process seems like too much for you, Bit.ai is here to help.
Read more: Technical Manual: What, Types & How to Create One? (Steps Included)
Bit.ai : The Ultimate Tool for Writing Technical Reports
What if we tell you that the entire structure of a technical report explained in this article is already done and designed for you!
Yes, you read that right.
With Bit.ai’s 70+ templates , all you have to do is insert your text in a pre-formatted document that has been designed to appeal to the creative nerve of the reader.
You can even add collaborators who can proofread or edit your work in real-time. You can also highlight text, @mention collaborators, and make comments!
Wait, there’s more! When you send your document to the evaluators, you can even trace who read it, how much time they spent on it, and more.
Exciting, isn’t it?
Start making your fabulous technical report with Bit.ai today!
Few technical documents templates you might be interested in:
- Status Report Template
- API Documentation
- Product Requirements Document Template
- Software Design Document Template
- Software Requirements Document Template
- UX Research Template
- Issue Tracker Template
- Release Notes Template
- Statement of Work
- Scope of Work Template
A well structured and designed report adds credibility to your research work. You can rely on bit.ai for that part.
However, the content is still yours so remember to make it worth it.
After finishing up your report, ask yourself:
Does the abstract summarize the objectives and methods employed in the paper?
Are the objective questions answered in your conclusion?
What are the implications of the findings and how is your work making a change in the way that particular topic is read and conceived?
If you find logical answers to these, then you have done a good job!
Remember, writing isn’t an overnight process. ideas won’t just arrive. Give yourself space and time for inspiration to strike and then write it down. Good writing has no shortcuts, it takes practice.
But at least now that you’ve bit.ai in the back of your pocket, you don’t have to worry about the design and formatting!
Have you written any technical reports before? If yes, what tools did you use? Do let us know by tweeting us @bit_docs.
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- Academic Skills
- Report writing
Technical report writing
A quick guide to writing technical reports in Engineering.
The main purpose of an Engineering technical report is to present a solution to a problem in order to prompt action. Technical reports provide a record of your developing expertise and are a legal record of your work and decision making.
What is a technical report?
Technical reports are a central part of your professional success and are usually designed to:
- Convince the reader of your position
- Persuade them to act, or
- Inform them of your findings.
They are an opportunity for you to:
- Clearly communicate a solution to a problem
- Recommend action, and
- Aid decision making.
Technical reports are designed for quick and easy communication of information, and use:
- Sections with numbered headings and subheadings, and
- Figures and diagrams to convey data.
How do I structure a technical report?
Regardless of the specific purpose of your technical report, the structure and conventions rarely differ. Check your subject requirements and expand the sections below to learn more about each section. Download a Technical Report template here.
Technical reports usually require a title page. To know what to include, follow the conventions required in your subject.
A technical report summary (or abstract) should include a brief overview of your investigation, outcomes and recommendations. It must include all the key information your reader needs to make a decision, without them having to read your full report. Don’t treat your summary as an introduction; it should act as a stand-alone document.
Tip: Write your summary last.
Help your reader quickly and easily find what they are looking for by using informative headings and careful numbering of your sections and sub-sections. For example:
A technical report introduction:
- provides context for the problem being addressed,
- discusses relevant previous research, and
- states your aim or hypothesis.
To help, consider these questions:
- What have you investigated?
- How does your study fit into the current literature?
- What have previous studies found in the area?
- Why is it worth investigating?
- What was the experiment about?
- Why did you do it?
- What did you expect to learn from it?
The body of a technical report is structured according to the needs of your reader and the nature of the project. The writer decides how to structure it and what to include.
To help, ask yourself:
- What does the reader need to know first?
- What is the most logical way to develop the story of the project?
Tip: look at other technical reports in your discipline to see what they’ve included and in what order.
Technical reports include a mixture of text, tables, figures and formulae. Consider how you can present the information best for your reader. Would a table or figure help to convey your ideas more effectively than a paragraph describing the same data?
Figures and tables should:
- Be numbered
- Be referred to in-text, e.g. In Table 1 …, and
- Include a simple descriptive label - above a table and below a figure.
Equations and formulae should be:
- Referred to in-text, e.g. See Eq 1 for …
- Centred on the page, and
- On a separate line.
Your conclusion should mirror your introduction.
Be sure to:
- Refer to your aims
- Summarise your key findings, and
- State your major outcomes and highlight their significance.
If your technical report includes recommendations for action. You could choose to report these as a bullet point list. When giving an answer to your problem, be sure to include any limitations to your findings.
Your recommendations can be presented in two ways:
- Action statements e.g. Type approval should be issued for tunnel ventilation fans.
- Conditional statements e.g. If fan blades are painted with an anti-corrosion coating system, it is likely that… e.g. The research has found that the fan hub should be constructed from forged steel and the fan housing should be constructed from hot dipped galvanised steel, but future research…
Acknowledge all the information and ideas you’ve incorporated from other sources into your paper using a consistent referencing style. This includes data, tables and figures. Learn more about specific referencing conventions here: https://library.unimelb.edu.au/recite
If you have data that is too detailed or lengthy to include in the report itself, include it in the appendix. Your reader can then choose to refer to it if they are interested. Label your appendix with a number or a letter, a title, and refer to it the text, e.g. For a full list of construction phases, see Appendix A.
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Four strategies to help you write in a professional style.
Learn how to write clear, concise and effective executive summaries.
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How to Write a Technical Report
Last Updated: November 21, 2022 References
This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD . Christopher Osborne has been a wikiHow Content Creator since 2015. He is also a historian who holds a PhD from The University of Notre Dame and has taught at universities in and around Pittsburgh, PA. His scholarly publications and presentations focus on his research interests in early American history, but Chris also enjoys the challenges and rewards of writing wikiHow articles on a wide range of subjects. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 61,171 times. Learn more...
Engineers, scientists, and medical professionals need to be good writers too—and technical reports prove it! A good technical report presents data and analysis on a specified topic in a clear, highly-organized, and effective manner. Before you begin writing, define your message and audience, and make an outline. Then, write the main body of the report and surround it with the other necessary sections, according to your chosen layout.
Planning Your Report
- For instance, you may want to convey the message that a new technique for extracting a particular chemical compound is both safer and more cost-effective.
- The best technical reports remain clear and focused throughout—they have a specific purpose and convey the information in a logical order.
- Work with advisors, supervisors, or colleagues to fine-tune the message and/or goal of your report. These can vary widely depending on whether the report is being produced for academic, business, or other purposes.
- If others in your field will be reading the report, it can be more “technical” in language and detail. In many cases, though, technical reports are intended for those outside of your particular discipline. If so, cut back on the jargon for non-expert readers.
- Consider having a non-expert friend look over your report throughout the process to give you feedback on its accessibility to a broad audience.
- Determine which particular sections your report must or may have. Consult the person or organization to whom you’ll be submitting the report for any layout requirements.
Writing the Main Body of the Report
- In most cases, the introduction will likely be 1-3 paragraphs in length.
- The end of the introduction should clearly state what the report “does.” It might do so by way of a direct statement (“This report analyzes…”), or by providing a series of questions (which may in some cases be bulleted or numbered) to be addressed.
- Essentially, you want readers who may be new to the subject matter to feel like they have at least a rudimentary grasp of it after reading this section.
- If, for instance, your report is focused on a particular experiment, be specific on the way it was conceived, set up, and conducted.
- This is sometimes called a “methods” section, since you are describing the methods used to conduct your research.
- It can be hard to determine how much data to present. Giving too little can significantly weaken your analysis and the overall report. Giving too much, however, can drown the reader in a sea of tables and figures. Make sure you provide all essential data, and err on the side of providing a bit too much unless otherwise instructed.
- Present your data in a logical order, so that each table or figure leads into the next one.
- Be as bold in your conclusions as your data and analysis permits you to be. Don’t use terms like “might,” “perhaps,” “could,” and so forth—write something like, “The data shows that…” However, don’t draw conclusions that aren’t supported by your data.
Adding Components in the Proper Layout
- Executive Summary
- Table of Contents
- List of Figures / List of Tables
- Main Report: Introduction; Background / Literature Review; Project Description; Data / Description of Data; Conclusion
- For a typical title page (and overall report layout), see https://my.mech.utah.edu/~rusmeeha/references/Writing.pdf
- Write the abstract after you’ve written the actual report. You want it to be a condensed description of what you have written, not of what you intend to write.
- Check to see if there is a specific word limit for your abstract. Even if there isn’t, 300 words is a good word limit to aim for.
- The executive summary should focus on your findings, conclusions, and/or recommendations, and allow the report itself to present the data—although highlights of the data should be provided.
- Depending on your situation, you may need to write an abstract, an executive summary, or both.
- Check for any formatting guidelines for these sections. If the format is left up to you, keep things simple and straightforward.
- This section typically runs 1-2 paragraphs, and follows a fairly simple “The author would like to thank…” format.
- In some cases, you may also be expected to provide a listing of works you have consulted but not specifically cited in the work. Check with the relevant department, organization, individual, etc., if you’re not sure.  X Research source
- Use a consistent, easy-to-navigate format when creating appendices. They aren’t meant to be dumping grounds for random snippets of data or information.
You might also like.
- ↑ https://students.unimelb.edu.au/academic-skills/explore-our-resources/report-writing/technical-report-writing
- ↑ https://www.sussex.ac.uk/ei/internal/forstudents/engineeringdesign/studyguides/techreportwriting
- ↑ http://homepages.rpi.edu/~holguj2/CIVL2030/How_to_write_search/How_to_write_a_good_technical_report.pdf
- ↑ https://www.theiet.org/media/5182/technical-report-writing.pdf
- ↑ http://www.sussex.ac.uk/ei/internal/forstudents/engineeringdesign/studyguides/techreportwriting
- ↑ https://students.unimelb.edu.au/academic-skills/explore-our-resources/report-writing/executive-summaries
- ↑ https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/technicalwriting/chapter/10-4-table-of-contents/
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A Guide to Writing a Technical Report
In this guide you will find:
- Technical report format
- How to write a technical report
Tips on writing a good technical report
Technical report format – how to apply it.
When it comes to the writing of a technical report, the format is very important because it is unique from other reports in that it carries technical information. A technical report contains technical information which should be planned well. You need to understand all the structure to achieve your objective. A technical report should contain the following:
- The title page
The title page comes first when you write your report. The title page contains the title of the report the date and the institution details plus supervisor. This first page is also referred to as the cover page. It is good to note that the content of the title page does not add up to the word count of your report. The title is a separate entity when it comes to word count, so you should not include it on your word count.
In the introduction, you are supposed to highlight the main aims of the paper to the reader. Let the reader understand the purpose of you writing the report. You can also comment on the flow of the report so that the reader can know what to expect. You should avoid copying the introduction given in the lab hand out and instead come up with your own.
- The summary
In summary, you need to write an overview of the whole report including the results and conclusions made.
- Experimental details
This is the part that you need to state every detail of the experiment starting from the equipment that you used to the procedure for the test. This section can be omitted if the report did not involve an experiment at all.
- Results and discussions
The body is the most important part of your report because it carries your content. You should introduce small subheadings in your report as per the point being put across. This will make your work look more presentable as the reader will be guided with this subheading what point you are talking about. You can also place your points in number form or list so that it becomes easier for your reader to understand what you are talking about. You should also separate your points to avoid bringing confusion in your work; each point should be under its subtopic.
When it comes to the writing of your conclusion what you need to do is write a summary of the main points in the body of your report and wrap it up. In conclusion, you also need to use words that suggest you are concluding your work to prepare the reader psychologically, that you are about to finish. Remember also that the conclusion should be short and precise avoid a lot of stories in your concluding paragraph, spare all the stories for the body of your report.
The recommendation usually comes after the conclusion. In the recommendation, you are supposed to suggest solutions to the challenges that are there in the body. This is where your opinion is welcomed.
In the reference, you need to list all the materials that you used in your research. You may have quoted some text somewhere, so it is at this point that you need to list it so that it does not become a plagiarized work. When you write the reference, you acknowledge that the content that you used is from a certain source.
A bibliography is more like the reference but in a bibliography, you can go ahead and list the sources that you did not use in your research, but they may be useful in the explanation of your content. Mostly bibliography usually contains sources that can be used for further reading on the topic.
In this section, you are supposed to list all the people that helped you in coming up with your report. This includes even those that proofread your work to make sure it is well written. This is a way of appreciating the effort of other people in your work.
You may have used other materials to put across your points in the report such as graphs or diagrams but are not necessarily required in the report. This is the place where you should mention them.
After writing your report, the next thing is presenting it. Writing a report is not enough, you need to have adequate skills on how best to present your report. A presentation is important because it determines the final outlook of your work.
Below are some of the standard presentation guidelines:
- Script – the report should be printed on an A4 paper on one side. You should note that the hand-written report is not accepted when it comes to the technical report.
- Page numbers – while numbering your pages the title page and the summary is an exception. You should number the pages that contain the content.
- Margins – you should use a margin of at least 2.54cm all round.
- Binding – when joining your report, you can staple it at the top left if it does not comprise of many pages. If the report is too long, then it is good to bind it so that all the pages may be joined well.
For a standard report, you should use font size 12 and style Times New Roman because it is legible and clear. You should also use a spacing of 1.5 or 2 depending on the instructions given by your supervisor but make 1.5 your default value.
How to write a technical report and where to start
Having understood the structure of a technical report and how to orientate everything we can now look at how to come up with the content and write it.
The first thing that you should do before you write your report is assembling all the sources that may be useful in creating content for your report. You can get all this in the library, notes or even in different educational websites and blogs.
You should list down the topics and ideas of what your report is to cover randomly. After listing them arrange them by classifying those that relate with each other to the same group.
After arranging the ideas, you need to write it roughly into small subheadings. This is the rough outline of how the report should appear.
The next step is writing the first draft. At this point, you only need to write the body inclusive of the headings and subheadings to the end. Include the number of reference material that you wish to use.
After you have completed with the first draft, you need to revise it to pinpoint where changes need to be done. At this point, you should ensure that your report contains all the necessary information. You should also consider the reader here so that if it’s a professional report, it portrays the qualities of a professional report. While revising you also need to ensure that all the objectives have been ascertained in the report as per the topic is given.
While writing your report, you may need to use some diagrams or graphs to make the reader understand what you are talking about. Technical information is best put across by use of other means other than word, so you need to know the right format for this diagrams and tables to ensure success in your work. Below are some of the guide on how to oriented various appendices in your report:
- Graphs – your graph should be well labelled to avoid confusion of the variables. When it comes to graphs, you can use pie charts and even bar graphs to indicate the trend of what you are analyzing.
- Diagrams – for the diagrams you should draw simple diagrams, and they should appear after or before the content you are discussing so that the reader can be able to understand its relation.
- Tables – tables are used for summary purposes. A table can help you list points and explain them in brief which helps the reader go through everything in a brief summary. You should also number your tables for easy reference in your work.
- Mathematics – while writing a technical report that involves some analysis, it is better to use mathematics because it makes the analysis easier and convenient.
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- For you to have a good technical report, you should avoid overusing different fonts in your work because it makes it fussy. You should use different fonts to pinpoint an idea that you want the reader not to miss on it. You can also use underlining and bolding to serve the same purpose.
- Use of headings and subheadings is also important because it plans your points. The reader is able to understand different points when you categorize them into small headings and sub-headings. The reader may happen to have so little time with your report, and this will make them want to scheme through the major points, so when you have these headings, you make their work easier.
- You may use content that does not belong to you while writing your technical report; this will entail proper in-text citation to avoid unoriginality in your work. It is good to know how to cite just as I have mentioned. After citing the source in your content proceed and list the source in your reference list. To avoid plagiarism, you should also try to use your own words while explaining points do not copy everything word by word because it may turn out to be plagiarized and you will be penalized. If you fail to citeyour content, it is assumed to be your content t, failure to which it is said to be plagiarized and this is a big offence which is punishable.
- You should also be cautious about the information that you obtain from the internet, ensure the sources of information for your report is credible. Sources such as Wikipedia are not reliable and therefore should not be used as your reference. Some of the reference materials that are credible include approved books, articles and journals. You can determine whether a source is credible by looking at the author and their work, a good author will always have positive reviews for all their writings.
- The final step in your report writing is proofreading your work to ensure everything reads well. Proofreading also helps to avoid spelling and grammatic errors which are common mistakes that are unavoidable. When you proofread your work, you will also discover points that are missing in your report which are essential in that topic and you can make necessary adjustments.
- While writing your summary, you should be keen on the length so that it does not go beyond 300 words. A summary should not be too long because it will make the reader tired while reading it, it should be short and to the point. The purpose of the summary is usually to give the reader a brief overview of what you are going to cover in the technical report. The reader should have that rough idea in mind of what to expect so that when they go through it, it becomes easier to understand the points.
Read also: “Who can write me a research paper of an excellent quality?”
Technical report example
It is good to go through different examples of the technical report written by other authors because it builds you skill on presentation of points. Different people will always have different ways of presenting their work, so when you read these samples, you get equipped with different formats to use that when it comes to your own, you will always choose the best that fits your topic.
It is also good to have a template for a technical report with you before you proceed to write yours so that it guides you on the arrangement of your work. However, you can always use academic assistance to get your report done.
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How to Write a Technical Report?
What Is a Technical Report?
The definition of a technical report is the following: a technical report is a document written by a researcher; it describes how the research was conveyed: its phases, steps, results, peculiarities, etc., and may include deeper details like experimental data and outcome. It is a document that literally guides readers through the course of your work.
Who Needs a Technical Report?
Many organizations and companies use this type of technical documentation:
- Educational institutions
- Governmental organizations
- Commercial companies
- Non-profit organizations
As a rule, technical reports are widely used in the following industries: engineering, physical sciences, medical and biomedical fields, social sphere, etc.
Why Use a Technical Report?
If you have one of the following goals, a technical report will surely help you:
- You need to show the process of your work. Readers are interested in how you do it. Of course, results have a great value as well but how to check whether you’ve chosen the right way to get them?
- You need to represent important information. This type of technical documentation is often chosen to provide efficient communication among employees on different levels. For example, top management can make decisions based on the information given in technical reports. It means that a technical report may influence the way a company is going to develop in the future.
- You need to structure data. A technical report helps to represent information logically and show the cause-and-effect relations between the blocks of data.
- Attract the attention of readers to a problem. A technical report is a very good solution to show readers a problem and, of course, why it should be solved as soon as possible.
What Makes a Good Technical Report?
To write a high-quality technical report, you are to follow the rules that are common nearly for all types of technical documentation:
- Write for your readers : define your audience, their level of knowledge, organize the document the way they can easily use it;
- Use accurate, concise, and clear language;
- Eliminate errors: technical errors, inconsistencies, and errors in language;
- Use additional sources of information: references and visuals (diagrams, tables, graphs, etc.). For example, using diagrams can be very helpful if you need to show statistical data analyses. Our post - Using Diagrams in IT Documentation: Best Practices - will tell you more on how to use diagrams in technical documentation and which tools to choose;
- Keep your report short but informative.
What Is the Difference Between a Technical and Non-Technical Report?
Not every report can be called a technical one. Let’s figure out the difference between a technical report and a non-technical one.
So, a technical report is a document that gives in-depth technical information. A non-technical report contains other types of information - more general ones. A popular report is a good example of a non-technical report. A popular report is a short document that describes the state’s or government’s financial performance.
Structure of a Technical Report
A technical report usually contains the following elements:
- Synopses. This is the first element of a technical report, but it should be the last thing to write. It is only a couple of paragraphs long. You are to underline your attitude to the problem, the methods used, the purpose, and the concept of the report.
- Title page. It is not only the title of the project, there should be some information about the author, their position, submission date, etc.
- Abstract. It is a short technical summary. As a rule, it is addressed to the audience. They decide whether to read the report or not, as they may already be acquainted with the problem.
- Table of contents (TOC) . It is a guide to the report’s structure.
- List of illustrations. It is a list of diagrams, graphs, tables, or other materials that support the content of the report.
- Introduction. This is the introduction to the body of the report. Sometimes it contains relevant background information. This section describes the aims and objectives of the report, the scope of work, limitations, etc.
- Body. The longest and most important section of the report. It can be subdivided into logical parts. This is the main scope of work, ideas, methods, etc.
- Conclusion. Contains the answers to the questions that were specified at the beginning or solutions to the problems.
- Appendices. The list of references, books, etc.
- Glossary . The list of terms and symbols used in the report.
Formatting of Technical Reports
Formatting means highlighting some data or information. Formatting may include using corporate style guides to underline that the document belongs to a particular company, or it may include highlighting in order to underline the sense or importance of information. Sometimes, documents have both types of formatting.
Types of Technical Reports
Technical reports can be of various types depending on the industry, goals, and needs:
- Feasibility report. Is the most popular document at the beginning of the software development process. It helps teams make their choice between several options. It shows whether or not the task in question can be fulfilled with the specified resources.
- Business plan. It describes the goals of a business, methods of achievement, resources, timeline, etc.
- Technical specification. Describes requirements for a product or project and information on design and development.
- Research report. Is the result of an investigation: process and findings.
- Recommendation report. Contains recommendations to solve a problem.
- Policies and procedures. Contains guidelines for rational actions.
Even more types of technical reports can be singled out. The above-mentioned ones are considered to be basic.
If you are a newbie technical writer, now you surely know what a technical report is and how to write it; if you are an experienced one, you may find new ideas and sources of inspiration in this post. Whatever document you are creating, make sure you do your best to make it as clear as possible to your readers. Stay safe and create perfect technical documentation with ClickHelp !
Good luck with your technical writing! ClickHelp Team Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices
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