Technical Report Writing: Steps, Format & much more
Technical Report, also known as a ‘Scientific Report’ is a form of documentation wherein the technical or scientific research of a company is stored in one document. It includes the procedure, advancement, and outcome of the team working on a project. This report also consists of the state and problems the group came across and how it was tackled, which is later mentioned in the technical report.
After adding guidance, recommendations, references, and conclusion of the research, the report includes every possible point in one systematic place making it convenient to refer for future references.
All these steps are taken to register the technical research problems the company faces during the process in the report. Lastly, the researchers detailing the results of a project submit the document to the sponsor of the project.
Technical Report writing comes under Grey Literature which differs from Commercial or Academic publishing. This type of literary works on reports or papers like white papers, government documents, Private Companies’ annual, research, technical reports, and many more.
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7 C’s of Technical Report Writing
A Technical report should be clear and easy to understand. Where adding ambiguities in the report will confuse the readers, removing vagueness will be a better option for the convenience of the audience. The report should clarify your target audience’s doubts as that’s what they will be there to read in the first place.
Rectifying your grammatical mistakes, factual errors, and even typos before publishing will help the reader in understand the context of the report without a pause. Your audience will not be stopped while reading to discover a mistake which eventually will make the reading experience of the user, smooth. Incorrectness often disturbs the flow of reading.
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If a report is presented keeping your matter to the point and without overdoing the context of the document, helps with making the user understand the same clearly, concisely, and conveniently. It is always recommended to replace long drawn-out phrases with single words. However, make sure to not lose the main context of the subject.
Having a persistent flow of the content is vital as the readers should feel drawn into it after reading more and more. Keep the style of formatting and terminology uniform during the whole document as it assists the users to understand the concept swiftly.
Steps for drafting any piece of writing include planning, searching and researching, and finally organizing the document. Connecting these pieces of information is a tricky yet crucial process. However, following this procedure diligently will contribute to the users following the flow of the document while reading.
After choosing a topic, determining the requirement of the topic is the next necessary step. Identifying what needs to be added is essential. Providing the promised required information should be the next main focus of the document. This process demands a lot of research and pre-arranged resources to provide answers to your target audience.
High-quality content is the need of today where the attention span is significantly less, which is why your content should be a form of credible to your target audience. If answers are provided to them not satisfying their questions, they will not come back. Hence, having credibility in your process and content is necessary.
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Format of Technical Report Writing
As any form of writing has two forms, Technical Report Writing is no different. Writers often choose the format that suits them the best. There are two types of working formulas that word framers are usually presented with.
One is where you have planned steps and made an outline for yourself. The second one is where you believe in the ‘go with a flow’ strategy.
This is the first approach wherein you configure every step. Following the listicle format to draft your Technical report writing will help you to organize your points systematically as you will be deciding what to write in a particular step. You would have already settled with title to sub-sections to the body of your report and lastly, to the conclusion.
This assists you in having a precise flow of writing as the planning of each point plays a significant role in it. However, in this procedure, you have to rethink almost all the pointers decided if you want to change anything at the last minute.
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Go with the flow Approach:
This structure is often used by authors for writing a book, mainly fiction. It gives you the liberty to welcome any new ideas at the last minute and add it to your piece of writings just like most authors do by keeping their horizon open for mending their stories at the last minute.
However, this same approach can work in Technical Report Writing as well if somebody wants to keep their doors open. This often suits the best to somebody who believes in the ‘go with the flow’ mantra. One risk factor may be that you can lose track of what you want to deliver in the report.
Steps to follow for Technical Report Writing:
In professional reports like Technical ones are always advised to follow the listicle or planned process wherein the pointers are already portrayed while in the format which makes it convenient for the writers to write and for the readers to understand the same clearly. It makes the objective of the report clear for both writer and recipient.
Now that you have decided the format to go with, then comes the part where you have to fill the document with meaningful words. The below setting should help you to know the actual format of technical report writing.
The Title Page and the Cover Page
The cover page is the first impression of your technical writing report. It’s the very first thing that your target audience will see and hence it is not wrong to determine it as ‘the face of the project’.
To give it a professional and informative look, details like the name of the author or team, name of the institution, and title with the logo is added on the very first page which makes it convenient for the receivers to understand what they are going to know about in the particular report.
The cover page should be made simple as it is a technical and professional one, however, it also should be striking to your eyes. Moreover, it should also be the home to the status of the report, for instance, it is the final report of the project, mention there as “Technical Report Part 2, final report”. Also, the names of the mentor or supervisor should be given on this page.
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Often purported as Executive or Authorative summary, Abstract allows having a brief and unambiguous outline of the project. It should be written keeping in mind the perspective of the reader. The person going through the report should be able to perceive complete details of the project in one simple go.
Adding this step to your report will work as a proclamation determining that you have granted people or sources with their due credit who helped you in the formation of the report.
As plagiarism plays a vital role in any form of writing, so does it in Technical writing. Hence, in the Preface section, you will also have to declare that the research you have done is not plagiarized from anywhere. Not only that, but the writers will also have to mention that whatever they have found are via their analysis.
Often written in the middle of the new page, this step in the format of technical writing is an optional one as it includes dedicating the study to one of their loved ones. However, it is not a common page in these kinds of reports.
The sentence will be small and the page users will be left after writing this sentence. ‘Dedication’ page is mainly used in theses.
Now it’s time for being thankful to the people who helped you in the process of creating the report. This is the place where you add people, parties, and even institutions that assisted you in the research. And also to the ones who inspired the idea of the report.
Table of Contents:
It is seen in almost all sorts of research-based papers and even novels and other writing forms. The sole reason is that the Table of Contents proves to be an easy pathway for the readers to understand what they are going to discover in the book or report.
It helps the readers and also the writers to navigate the chapters and subchapters included in the technical report. As for technical report writing, it is necessary to add a nomenclature page if symbols are included in the report.
Subsequently, if the use of graphs and tables is done, then you need to consider creating a different content page for the same. By starting from the fresh new page, now place the combined list on it.
This marks the official commencement of the project report. The writer should clarify with the readers what they are going to expect from this report. Make sure to incorporate your goals, purpose, and objective of the report in the introductory section.
Also, add the questions that have been answered by you in the report. If possible, do include a synopsis of the project. Keeping in mind that your conclusion should be able to give answers to the objective questions, write it in the same way.
It included the central chapters wherein the writers provide detailed information about the topics they talked about at the beginning of the report. Now is the time the readers have come to finally read about it, basically to find their answers.
Hence, it is necessary to keep the matter detailed and systematic, which means it should add sections and subsections. According to experienced technical writers, a report can even include sub subsections if required. Following this step makes the report look concise which pleases the eyes of the readers and eventually helps them to read and understand better.
Before beginning each chapter, it’s better to start by introducing the objective of this chapter in the first paragraph. Technical reports do not welcome the personal opinions of their creators. It is expected to write only facts collected after days and months of research. Hence, only verifiable facts should be presented.
Finish, ending, or closing, are some synonyms of conclusions, meaning its sole motive should be that it concludes every prospect the writer has opened in the report.
The writer will have to explain that he had talked about a particular topic and now it has been concluded with a specified purpose. The meaning, objectives, and purposes of the report should be mentioned in the conclusion section.
Along with that, it is necessary to include the extent to which an idea was initiated and whether it has been successful in finding it or not. Lastly, consider reviewing what your research played a role in finding the unsolved questions.
If your report needed huge sets of data and some long mathematical formulas, also explanatory figures, and a table, then this is the section where you mention that it has been used in the specified report. The items must be organized in the serial number or ordeal they were used in the project report.
Not including this step would turn out to be a legal threat for any writer. While deciding the topic, and starting to write on it, you needed something to start with and that was the information that you obtained by researching. Hence, not mentioning those sources would be illegal.
Whatever you have collected, from statistical measures to graphs, figures and even those word-to-word informative sentences you wrote in the report, mentioning the resources will make it easier for you to get a pass with legal threats as you will not be doing anything illegal.
While researching for the report, a writer comes across a lot of data they get inspired from. The very same thing also helps them to bag some knowledge they were not aware of. This is often not included in the report as it is not a direct part of the research.
This kind of knowledge is gathered as data and made into an account which can be shown in the Bibliography section.
Points to remember while formatting Technical Report
The purpose of any technical report writing is to inform the target audience about the decided subject. Hence, it differs from any other literary writing in numerous ways.
- Technical report writing does not consist of an entertainment factor in it, rather it should only be focused on informing with simple sentences that are easy to read and understand.
- As for the ease of the audience, avoiding long sentences is better as again it does not create confusion as to what is being said. Linking two short sentences through a comma (,) is not advisable. Try decoding one long sentence into two short but understandable ones.
- Avoid words like ‘this’, ‘way’, ‘some’, etc. These are often used when what the writer means to convey is not clear even after researching. Hence, they need to go through the resources collected and write with a calm and informative mind.
- Usage of contractions of verbs such as “doesn’t”, “they’re”, “can’t”, “isn’t” etc, are not ideal in technical report writing. Similarly, usage of slang or informal words is prohibited when writing a report as it is a formal paper and informal words should not be included in it. It is always better to write it in full form such as, “does not” or “they are”, “is not”, etc.
- Proofreading is nothing new in the writing field. Be it a literary form such as Creative writing or general everyday news articles or formal settings like Technical reports, checking and rechecking are necessary.
One can not publish any form of write-up without proofreading and hence, it is important to check the spelling, punctuation, and grammar of the sentences written. Tools like Grammarly helps millions of writer on daily basis to do the same.
- Using the first-person tone in such a formal report is not advised as it will make the audience feel like the points mentioned in the report are not backed with factual resources.
- If “I” or “me” is considered mentioning in a report then it can make the reader feel like it was based on the author’s personal opinion. It also looks like the writer is not aware of the practices the industry follows.
On the other hand, ‘I’ could be used when the writer is an accomplished scientist or professional or an engineer who is aware of the dos and don’ts of the industry. This study was published by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in a report which stated that being an ‘expert’ in a particular field gives the right to the writer to use “I” in a report.
- When the report includes ‘Abbreviation or Acronym’, always write the full form first and then its abbreviated form in a circular bracket. For example; ‘The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was originally founded to work for the betterment of the destroyed homes, schools, and organizations in Europe after the breakage of World War II’.
- A technical writer’s work is to express an idea in a way that even non-technical people should be able to understand. It depends on the reader, for instance, if the target audience is engineers, then jargon, in this case ‘technical words’ would not affect the reading experience.
However, if a report is full of jargon for the non-technical target audience then it will be not an ideal one for the same as they will not understand it. This is the reason jargon should be avoided.
- Use ‘active voice’ more than ‘passive voice’, again keeping in mind the convenience of the reader. However, neglecting passive voice altogether is also not correct.
- Make sure to use proper ‘Numbered’ and ‘Bullet’ points. ‘Times New Roman’ with font size 12 is the ideal size for reports. As for headlines, bold them in the same font size, suggests a report by BIT.AI.
How to present your report?
- Technical reports when hand-written are not accepted. Hence, it is necessary to print it out on an A4 size paper on one side.
- Do not give page numbers to the title page.
- Leave at least 2.54 cm from all sides in the report.
- If a report is small, staple it on the top left of the report to hold it together. However, if it is a long report then binding should be done to keep it as one.
Technical Report Writing is a form of writing which is different from all other writing as its aim is to convey the researched information in a straight way. It does not include twisting words and sentences rather it focuses on presenting information and knowledge in simple yet explanatory words.