Writing a technical report is a complex exercise for both the will and the mind. You should be willing to do this task and aware of how to do it properly. For that reason, this guide is created as a useful source of information that you can use before writing a technical report. So what information, you’ll find in this article?
- The introduction to technical report writing – what is it?
- The structure of a technical report – which sections to include?
- Planning of writing a technical report – what to do first, second, and final?
- Technical report writing tips – how to write a technical report successfully?
- The presentation of technical reports in public – how to present so that everything will be clear to the audience?
Find it useful to follow this article? Don’t waste your time and go on reading it!
A Technical Report: The Introduction to Writing
A technical report is a common document describing the process and results of technical or scientific research. It may include in-depth experimental details, data, and further research recommendations. If you have some questions about this type of writing, you’re welcome to find the main answers below:
- What is the reason to write a technical report? Technical reports are usually written to report on a specific research problem/question.
- What are the main characteristics of technical reports? All the technical information must be presented in a clear and easily accessible format. It must be divided into sections which allow readers to access different types of information.
- Which disciplines are specialized in writing technical reports? Physical sciences, engineering, agriculture, medical and health sciences, education, etc.
- Why are students required to write a technical report? It is a common academic task set to test the student’s ability to do independent research and analysis and present it in a clear way. After learning to do it at college or university, it will be much easier to do it with ease in the future during a professional career.
- How are technical reports evaluated? Usually, technical reports aren’t peer-reviewed but evaluated mostly on how the problem, research methods, and results are described in a paper. If the data is to the point, there won’t be any problem. Moreover, if it is formatted properly, it will be highly appreciated.
- What is a technical report format? The report must be written single-sided on white A4 paper. All four margins must be at least 2.54 cm. It can be issued in print, microform, digital. Don’t forget about consecutively numbered pages starting at 1. As for types of style guides, you can use IEEE, TRB, ASCE or APA 6th edition styles.
In general, technical report writing is a means of allocating and summarizing knowledge that is gained through the observation of a certain process, experiment, or phenomena. To write a technical report, the writer has to bear a clear and objectified understanding of the subject matter. It is important to be meticulous and record as many details as possible when studying the problem.
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So, ready to work on your own technical report? Let’s go!
The Structure of a Technical Report: 8 Points to Include
One of the conditions of successful report writing is that there is a particular structure to follow. There are 8 sections that make up the technical report:
- Title page;
- Table of contents;
- Body of the report;
- Appendices (if needed).
So, your technical report should have at least 8 pages – keep it in mind, but don’t limit this number! For example, the body that is an essential part of a report may include many other subsections, points, subpoints, etc. Let’s look at what each section must have so that you won’t miss anything. Check yourself if you’ve already written a report or you’re going to do it right now. It is better to have this outline always at hand.
- An abstract of a technical report summarizes the report briefly – what the subject matter is, what the main research results and conclusions are. Be concise in the abstract so that you’ll manage to write a one-paragraph summary of the report. Stick to a word count, for example, maximum 500 words, when writing an abstract.
- In the table of contents, as the name implies, list everything that is in the report. All the main sections of the report must be listed with page numbers. Besides, you can list second/third-level headings to have a more detailed table of contents. For some students, it can be quite confusing – so, don’t ignore the general principles for designing headings.
- An introduction is a part that states the objectives of writing the report and some extra information on how the topic is covered in the report. Lead the reader straight into the report itself from the first phrases, “This report focuses on … .”. The introduction should state the importance of the research being reported. Don’t include too much background information on the topic – be as specific as possible.
- The body of the report is divided into numbered and headed sections – methods, materials, analysis procedure, findings, discussion, and solutions. It makes it easier for the reader to understand what you are talking about in your report. All these sections point out the main ideas in a logical order of a step-by-step analysis of any given problem/phenomenon.
- The conclusion summarises the key ideas that can be drawn from the report based on the significance of the findings reported. Keep in mind that conclusions are quite often read first without paying attention to the whole report. The final phrases are always valuable as they are supposed to contain the answers that are provided by a study or test. That’s why focus on the following:
- The reference list or bibliography proves your evidence dramatically – the reader sees that you consult some sources of information during your research for the report. Mind the difference between a bibliography and a reference list!
- Appendices (if appropriate) consists of information that can support your report – tables, diagrams, etc. Although all this extra information included in the appendix is not needed to be explained in details in the report, this part must directly relate to the research problem or the report’s aim.
Technical Report Writing: What to Remember?
- Firstly, when writing a technical report, you should gather background knowledge on the subject. It is wise to be acquainted with the subject matter before attending the observed experiment to understand what is happening. After you gain sufficient background knowledge on the studied topic, you should aim to take as many notes as possible on the observed situation. Whether it is a lab experiment, a production line tour, or an analysis of the local ecology, you should provide maximum attention to important details. Some notes taken may be invaluable in the process of writing the report, but still, take them anyway to deepen your own knowledge on the topic.
- Secondly, it is important for the report to be as informative as possible. The gathered data should not simply provide a text representation of the observed phenomena but be valuable for those who will work on it.
- Thirdly, when actually writing the report, you as a report writer should remember to maintain scientific objectivity and omit any references to personal opinions. A technical report is, first of all, a work of technological information, it should bear rare data and observations, rather than personal experiences.
3 Technical Report Samples: Look at What You Need to Write in Your Report
The technical report examples provided below should shed some light on the writing process. We are sure these technical report writing examples can help you get acquainted with the process of writing such a task.
Example 1: Chemistry Lab Report
Example 2: Ecology Report