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Gr 8 Report Writing - By Doug Knight2

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Gr 8 Report Writing - By Doug Knight2 Powered By Docstoc
					                           Report Writing
                               By Doug Knight

Why is an engineer in an English class?
     Engineers must communicate - everyone must communicate
     somehow - writing is still the main method of communicating when
     you can't talk face to face
     In my case, I have written reports on one subject and another all my
     career, and for six years I have been a technical writer
     A technical writer translates the engineer's notes, drawings, etc into
     manuals that tell people how to use and fix things - writes many other
     things also

What kinds of writers are there? KEEP SHORT
     Fiction - story tellers
     Non-fiction - write about real things, or situations - just about any
     topic where the subject is real
           Journalist
           Historian
           General non-fiction (cookbooks, how to books, investigations)
           Technical (instruction manuals, reports, specifications)
           Business (memos, reports, usually on an organisational - get
           things done - theme)
           Advertising (everything in the best light)

Who is a writer writing for?
     The reader
     The reader is the most important person in the writing process
     The writer must do the thinking for the reader - must answer all the
     questions that the reader will have - and answer them at the right
     time - the reader cannot stick up their hand
     ALWAYS THINK OF THE READER
ABC’s of Good Report Writing
     Probably many different definitions, but I like to keep things simple
     Accurate
             The most important thing
             If reader finds an error, they will not believe anything you say
             In technical document, errors can hurt the reader - literally
             State your sources - so accuracy can be checked
     Brief
             Most people don't have unlimited time
             Wordiness and repetition tire and irritate the reader
                   Example - a proposal to perform a service (ARDS)
                         Many repeated paragraphs and paragraph groups
                         See the same group for the tenth time - jump to the
                         next section
                         Evaluation involved a checklist - five of us - evaluate
                         individually and then compared our scores
                         There was one item on the list - four of us scored
                         zero - not there
                         The item was in the proposal but the repetition had
                         hidden it - one evaluator started halfway through the
                         report and saw it
     Clear
             Be as brief as you can - but if there is a choice between brevity
             and clarity - be clear
                   EXAMPLE - The boy saw the girl with the telescope…
             Say exactly what you mean - don't waffle, don't repeat unless
             there is a specific reason to do so
             Don't use slang, or jargon, avoid abbreviations, and always
             define any unusual terms
                   EXAMPLE - bi-weekly, table a report
          Organise your report
                Use procedures - step 1, step 2, …
                Use lists
                Use headings
                Use diagrams
    Display - readability
          Lay out the report to give the reader their best chance
          Don’t scrunch up – use white space, line spacing, fonts
          Use headings, bullets, page breaks
          Use colour – but be very careful, not everyone can see colour

Information and Acknowledging Sources
    Pierre Berton - journalist and popular historian
          Easy to read - Seems to know his subject
          But minimal sources
                If I want to know more - where do I go?
                If I want to check his facts - where do I go?
    Roger Sarty - naval historian
          Heavier subject
          Not as easy to read - But well documented
                Endnotes state where he got his information - the
                reference book or the document in the public archives
                Bibliography - a list of books that he referred to, or that
                are associated with his subject
    Engineering design report
          Very heavy subject - readable only by another engineer
          Clearly states assumptions, references and handbooks used
          States the source of each equation - Shows all work
          SO THE WORK CAN BE CHECKED
Example - St John Fortifications
      Research assistant with Roger Sarty - now working on a small book -
      about 100 pages
      My part is before 1850 - he has after 1850
      Almost every paragraph of mine is footnoted - so he knows where I
      got my information
      We will probably remove the notes before publication - but we will
      keep a copy of the version with the notes so we can answer
      questions if our facts are challenged

What is in a report?
      First thing asked is "how much do I have to write?" - wrong approach
      WHEN IS IT DUE?
      Always be on time.


      1. AIM                   State the task or objective
      2. BACKGROUND            Give any necessary background to the report
      3. DISCUSSION            Discuss the problem - do the thinking for the
         reader
      4. CONCLUSIONS           Draw conclusions - must be supported in the
         discussion
      5. REFERENCES            Sources, bibliography, supporting documents
      6. APPENDICES            Optional supporting documents - more details

Quality Control
      Do your work early - easier to review
      Read your writing aloud - easier to see errors
      Spelling and grammar always count
      Get someone to check your work - editor, peer,
      How to Write a (Technical) Report
Always keep in mind what the READER wants to know
     The writer must do the thinking for the reader - must answer all the questions that the
     reader may have - and answer them clearly.

ABC’s of Good Report Writing
     Accurate
             Accuracy is the most important principle.
     Brief
             Be brief - but if you must choose between brevity and clarity - be clear.
     Clear
             Say exactly what you mean - do not waffle, do not repeat yourself.
             Do not use slang, or jargon, avoid abbreviations, and define unusual terms.
     Display – make it easy for the reader
             Organise the report - use headings, lists, and procedures.
             Use diagrams, but be careful when using colour.
             Use white space, line spacing, and fonts.

How to organise a report?
  1. AIM                    State what the report is going to do - the task or objective.
  2. BACKGROUND             Give any necessary background – set the scene.
  3. DISCUSSION             Discuss all sides of the problem - do the thinking for the reader.
  4. CONCLUSIONS            Draw conclusions (that must be supported in the discussion).
  5. REFERENCES             Quote sources, bibliography, glossary, and supporting documents.
  6. APPENDICES             Optional supporting documents –more details on some part.

Editing – the quality control check
        Spelling and grammar always count.
        Do your work early - review it after a day or so. Get someone to check your work.
        Read your writing aloud - it is easier to catch errors.
                             Always State Your Sources
How to Write a (Technical) Report
Always keep in mind what the READER wants to know
The writer must do the thinking for the reader - must answer all the
questions that the reader may have - and answer them clearly.
ABC’s of Good Report Writing
Accurate
Accuracy is the most important principle.
Brief
Be brief - but if you must choose between brevity and clarity - be clear.
Clear
Say exactly what you mean - do not waffle, do not repeat yourself.
Do not use slang, or jargon, avoid abbreviations, and define unusual terms.
Display – make it easy for the reader
Organise the report - use headings, lists, and procedures.
Use diagrams, but be careful when using colour.
Use white space, line spacing, and fonts.
How to organise a report?
AIM                 State what the report is going to do - the task or objective.
BACKGROUND Give any necessary background – set the scene.
DISCUSSION          Discuss all sides of the problem - do the thinking for the reader.
CONCLUSIONS Draw conclusions (that must be supported in the discussion).
REFERENCES Quote sources, bibliography, glossary, and supporting
documents.
APPENDICES          Optional supporting documents –more details on some part.
Editing – the quality control check
Spelling and grammar always count.
Do your work early - review it after a day or so. Get someone to check your work.
Read your writing aloud - it is easier to catch errors.
Always State Your Sources
                        The ABC’s of a Good Report
Accurate
      The most important thing
Brief
      Wordiness and repetition tire and irritate the reader
Clear
      Be brief - but if you must choose between brief and clear - be clear
      Don't use slang, or jargon, avoid abbreviations, and always define
      any unusual terms
      Organise your report
Display - readability
      Lay out the report to help the reader
            Use procedures - step 1, step 2, …
            Use lists
            Use headings
            Use diagrams
            Use white space, line spacing, fonts
            Use headings, bullets, page breaks
            Use colour –VERY carefully

                        How to organise a report
AIM
      State what the report is about - the task or objective
BACKGROUND
      Give any necessary background – set the scene
DISCUSSION
      Discuss all sides of the problem - think for the reader
CONCLUSIONS
     Draw conclusions (that must be supported in the discussion
REFERENCES
     Quote sources, bibliography, glossary
APPENDICES
     Optional supporting documents – more details
REMEMBER…

     WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, HOW


Super Sport Special

This magnificent bicycle makes short work of hills and roads with
its 15 gears. Weighing a meagre 10 kilos, even a child can easily
carry it over obstacles. The high technology, ergonomically-
designed seat will leave the rider relaxed and rested after a long
trip.
Benny’s Basic Bike

This bike, which has only 15 gears, will be an absolutely
exhausting experience for the rider. It weighs a staggering 10
kilos, which is what even a large person will be doing if they try to
lift it. The weird-looking oddly-shaped seat will leave the rider tired
and bruised after a long trip.
Report Writing

      Accounting professionals often write reports for audiences within their
firm and outside of their firm. These reports cover a wide variety of topics
such as analysis of technical accounting issues, assessment of a client's
internal control systems, evaluation of the company's new recruiting
practices, and analysis of competitive forces in the market. The reports
vary in length, scope, and level of detail; but they all have one common
purpose: to provide the user with information that will facilitate decision
making. This handout contains suggestions for writing a good report and
also a checklist for revising and editing a report. You should use your
judgment as you apply these suggestions to your writing.

Content
   A report generally consists of the following main sections: Introduction,
Discussion of Data (or Discussion of Problem), Analysis of Alternatives,
Recommendations, and Conclusion. These sections may vary for some
reports; you can use other section headings that are appropriate for the
content and context of the report.

1. The Introduction should include a brief description of the purpose,
   scope, and content of the report. It should be clear and concise; it
   should not be abrupt and blunt.

2. The Discussion should include the analysis of data and/or identification
   and analysis of the problem. You can include the conclusions in this
   section. These conclusions should be logical inferences from the
   data/analysis presented. Often, the visual aids appear in this section of
   the report to support the analysis presented.

3. The Alternatives should focus on the different alternatives available to
   the reader for resolving the problem. It should also focus on the
   feasibility of the suggested alternatives.
4. The Recommendations should include the recommendations based
   upon the analysis of data and the feasibility of the proposed alternatives.

5. The Conclusion should include remarks that ensure a smooth closure.
   Sometimes, you can combine the Recommendations and Conclusion
   sections.
Organization
1. Before you start writing the report, analyze the audience, and
   determine the purpose of the report. The audience profile will
   help in shaping the content and the structure of the report; it
   will also help in selecting the writing style and level of detail.
   Having a clearly defined purpose will help you to determine the
   content and the structure of the report.


2. Create an outline for your report.            Use headings and
   subheadings in your outline for the different topics/ideas
   covered in the report.         Review your outline and make
   necessary changes to ensure that the ideas are organized in a
   logical and coherent manner. This will enhance the 'readability'
   of the report. There is no one 'correct' way for organizing the
   content of a report; on the other hand, you should realize that
   some patterns of organization are far more effective than
   others in a given context. Use your judgment in selecting a
   pattern of organization that will enable you to communicate
   your ideas to the intended audience in a clear and coherent
   way. To emphasize the importance of creating an outline
   before you start writing the report, I am quoting an excerpt from
   a letter that I received from a partner in a Big Six firm:


" I rarely see staff members outline their thoughts before they
begin writing....After dumping their thoughts into the PC, most
don't bother to edit, and those that do edit their drafts tend to
leave a number of extraneous thoughts attached to paragraphs in
awkward places. It is frustrating to fight through these memos."
3. If the report is longer than a page, use headings and
   subheadings (as in the outline) to indicate the structure and the
   content of the report. Make sure that the headings are
   descriptive of the content of the sections. You can enhance
  the structure of reports by using lists in certain sections
  (examples: list of procedures; checklist for evaluation); the
  items in a list should be parallel in grammatical structure.


4. Establish appropriate transitions within sections and between
   sections to ensure that the ideas flow smoothly. Once you
   have written a draft, read it and determine whether you have
   sustained the logic within sections and between sections. Look
   for thoughts/ideas that may suggest to the reader that you are
   waffling, and unable to maintain the line of argument you
   initiated. Check and make sure that your recommendation (or
   final stance) stems from the preceding arguments.


Writing Style and Mechanics
1. Use appropriate words/phrases that will communicate your
   ideas clearly to your readers. Avoid unnecessary words and
   phrases. Your writing should be clear, precise, and concise,
   not blunt, abrupt, and inadequate. Reading a lot of good
   writing will help you to improve your writing style; seeing words
   in 'contexts' will enable you to develop an appreciation for the
   proper use of words/phrases.


2. You can use an informal style of writing, but avoid slang and
   colloquialisms. Use technical jargon if you are certain that the
   reader will understand it. Understand that the rhythms of
   writing are different from the rhythms of speech. Maintain a
   professional tone in your writing. Avoid humor, jokes, and
   anecdotes if they are not appropriate for the context and
   audience.
3. Write in the active voice whenever possible. This will make
   your writing sound strong and forceful. Writing in the active
   voice does not mean that every sentence should begin with the
   word "I." Passive voice renders the writing weak and wordy,
   but it has its uses. Use the passive voice when you have to
   maintain an impersonal tone. Avoid a shift in voice in the same
   sentence.


4. Vary the structure of your sentences so that your writing does
   not sound monotonous. By revising and editing your paper,
   you can enhance the quality of your writing.


5. Follow the conventions of grammar, punctuation, and spelling
   while writing professional documents. Make sure you have
   access to a grammar book, a dictionary, and a thesaurus. Use
   the grammar checker and spell checker features of the word
   processing software; understand these features have their
   limitations. These features cannot replace careful editing and
   proofreading on your part.


Use of Visual Aids

Both in oral and written communication, it is easier for readers to
understand and remember information that is conveyed through visual aids
such as tables, graphs, charts, and pictures. You can include these visual
aids in the text of the report or in the appendix. Use word processing or
graphics software to create these visual aids; hand-drawn visual aids do
not look professional. You should select a visual aid that is appropriate for
the objective.

i)    Use a table if you have to present large quantities of data

ii)   Use a bar graph to compare items and also to indicate the segments
       within an item
iii)   Use a line graph to indicate trends

iv)    Use a pie chart to indicate the whole and its components

3. After creating your visual aids, check for the following:
i)     Every visual aid should have a number (examples: Table 1,Table
        2,Graph 1, Graph 2) and a descriptive title (example: Change in
        GNP)

ii)    In tables, the rows and columns should be labeled, the units for the
        numbers should be indicated and the items should be arranged in a
        logical order (highest to lowest, alphabetical, chronological)
iii)   In bar graphs, the bars and the segments should be proportional

iv)    In line graphs, time should be indicated on the horizontal axis and the
        other variable on the vertical axis

v)     In pie graphs, the wedges should be arranged from the largest to the
        smallest in a clockwise manner with the largest wedge starting at the
        12 o'clock position (This may not be possible with some software!)

vi)    The data represented through the visual aids should be accurate
vii) The visual aids should not be cluttered with too many details

4. Use visual aids whenever they will convey information more effectively
   than text. Integrate the visual aids into the text of the report in an
   effective way (examples: As seen in Table 2; This trend is indicated in
   Graph 2). If possible, place the visual aids close to the references so
   that the reader can easily follow your discussion of the data.

Format and Professional Appearance
1. Generally, a fairly long report consists of

           Title Page
           Letter of Transmittal
           Table of Contents
Table of Visuals
          Executive Summary
          Report
          Appendices
          List of References


   What you should include will depend on the nature and length of the
   assignment. Follow the guidelines provided by your instructor and
   clarify any doubts you may have regarding the scope and nature of the
   report.


2. Use a 12-pitch font so that it is easy for the reader to read the report.
   Do not vary the font type frequently in the report; this may distract the
   reader. Exercise judgment in the bold, italics and underline features of
   the software. Such features, generally, enhance the readability of the
   report; sometimes, these features can divert the reader’s attention from
   the main message.

3. Include page numbers if the report is longer than a page. Have a one-
   inch margin on all four sides of the page. Maintain a balance between
   white space and print to enhance the visual appeal of the report. Staple
   together the pages; do not use paper clips or report folders.

Criteria for evaluating written reports

Content

Does the report provide relevant and accurate information?
Is the report complete?
Is it adequate?


Organization/structure


Is the report coherent?
Does it have a logical structure?
Are the transitions appropriate and adequate?
Do section headings and lists enhance readability and coherence?

Writing style

Is the report clear and concise?
Are the writing style and tone appropriate for the subject, audience and
context?
Is the report free of grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors?

Use of visual aids

Are the visual aids relevant and accurate?
Are the visual aids adequate and complete?
Are the references to the visual aids integrated into the text of the report?

Format and professional appearance

Is the report (text and visual aids) visually appealing?
Does the visual appearance of the report (margins, font type and size, use
of bold, italics and underline features, quality of the visual aids) enhance
the readability of the report?

				
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