Technical Report Writing Samples by khf67003

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									General structure:
[Note: longer papers (6+ pages) and term papers should have a title page. Shorter papers may use a header as shown above. Title
should be brief but clear -- it should tell the reader clearly what the paper is about.] Read and follow this set of Guidelines carefully.




                                      Technical Report Writing Guidelines




Abstract
          This paper is a brief guide to technical report writing for laboratory tests, materials selection projects,
and term papers or projects. It itemizes and explains the various parts of a technical report, tells how to use a
style manual, how to do references and reference citations, shows how to use headings, and finishes with a
section on writing style.
          As a result of reading and following this report guide, you will be able to write concise, quality
technical reports for any class.




Epilogue
          Tubal:
What devil sword is this? It resists all description of materials; pray, even my tensil and compression testing
yields no clue to its nature!
          Shylock:
Methinks ‟tis the work of the devil! Make haste with ye, and cast the scourge into the fire! Return this satanic
scimitar to the flames from which ‟twas born!
          ~ from „The Materials Tester of Venice‟
              (the famous „heat treatment‟ act), by Sir Wilhelm Shakespeer
Tech XXX                                                                         Report Format Guidelines
                               Technical Report Writing Guidelines


Introduction
        Technical reports are written in order to communicate. Technical writing must be clear, unambiguous,
and concise. There are no absolutes in good or bad writing style or report formats, but most of us need to use
style guides and format outlines in order to produce good writing. These aids help us to transmit the necessary
information.

Technical Report Format
         This section of the handout describes an overview of a typical report, and the purposes of each part of
a report. For all paragraph text (not tables), double spacing is required.
         A technical report must be written so that any reader can quickly and easily gather from it the
information needed; no more and no less. This means that, above all, the technical report must be concise.
The format used must help the reader achieve this goal.
         Length. For lab reports, length is to be 2 to 3 pages including references. Appendices and figures add
to the length. For term papers, the length is to be 6 to 8 pages.
         Parts. The parts of a report help different readers get what they need quickly and easily.
         Some readers will be content with reading the title only. It should tell them whether they want to
spend more time reading the report or not (most of us are too busy to read things if their titles don‟t tell us
what they are about).
         Other readers will want to know a little more about the report . For them, a brief summary, or abstract,
is provided. An introduction and a conclusions section provide more about the purposes of the study, the
methods used, and the conclusions reached. If the reader needs to make a decision based upon the report, the
recommendations will be of interest.
         Only rarely does a reader (such as a supervisor or instructor) want or need to read a detailed
description of procedures, data collection, and a discussion of the study. For this reason, these sections are
usually last.
         To summarize, then; a technical report might include the sections shown in Table 1. The following
paragraphs provide guidelines for each of the sections listed in the table.
         Title. For long reports (more than six pages), the title should be on a separate (title) page. The title
should be as brief as possible, but communicate clearly what the report is about. A title must not be more than
15 words in length. If possible, the actual variables under study should be indicated, for example:
Metallographic Analysis of Annealed and Hardened SAE 1095 Steel




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Tech XXX                                                                         Report Format Guidelines
Table 1. Sections in a report.
           Test Reports:               Term Projects:             both                Term Papers:
           Title and author info                               Title page
                  Abstract                                   Abstract page
                                                           [Table of Contents]
              Introduction                                    Introduction
              Conclusions                                                           “Body” of the paper,
            Recommendations                Procedures                                 with appropriate
               Procedure                      Data                                       headings
                  Data
               Discussion                                 Trends / Conclusions
               References                                     References
               Appendices                                     Appendices


         Title block information includes the report title, the class number, class title and section number, the
date, and the name(s) of the authors. See pages 8 & 9 of this Guide to Technical Report Writing.
         Abstract. This part of your report can only be written last, and is then placed at the beginning of
your paper. It is sometimes called an ‘Executive Summary’. It is a brief summary of the contents of the report
which must be self-contained, and complete when read by itself. It should contain statements of the problem
(‘why’), the methods (‘how’), the results (‘what’), and the conclusions. It should be about 75 to 100 words in
length.
         Table of Contents. [Only for longer papers of more than 6 pages]. Good paper organization,
headings, and formatting can make a table of contents unnecessary. The table of contents, if used, is presented
on a separate page following the abstract page.
         Introduction. While writing the introduction, try to address the following points: What are you
doing? What is the experimental variable, and what other variables might influence the test results? What is
the point or purpose of the study? Do you admit to any expected outcome? What method was selected for the
testing? Why? What can the conclusions be used for? In a brief paragraph or two, try to answer these
questions, explaining to the reader what you are doing and why. Do not exceed 100 words; an ideal length is
60-100 words.
         Conclusions. State, with no elaboration, the specific conclusions you have reached regarding the
test results. Relate them to the uses of the conclusions that were mentioned in the introduction. Do not imply
any more certainty than you actually have regarding these conclusions. If you are not sure, say so.
         Recommendations. List very briefly any recommendations as to how the materials might or
might not be used, based on the test results, and whether or not further study is advisable. (Separately, under
Procedures, you may wish to list any recommendations regarding the conducting of the tests.)
         Procedures. This section should describe in detail how the study was performed. If possible, relate
your method to a standard test method from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the
Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Underwriters Laboratory (UL), American National Standards
Institute (ANSI), or another appropriate standard method. Cite such standards by number, agency, most recent
test update, and source. Do not describe these standardized procedures in detail. You only need to describe
how your methods deviate from the standard, if at all. You must also indicate whether you think such
deviations are important, and explain this later, in the Discussion.
         If your method is not adapted from a standard, you will need to explain the methods to the reader here.
Method descriptions can be very tedious, however. For example, a reader will want to know the physical
dimensions of a test sample, but will not be interested in how you measured it, unless these could influence the
a1887dc6-fda3-4d5b-ab1f-088c32e56121.doc                                                       S Bates, page 3
Tech XXX                                                                               Report Format Guidelines
results of the test (if this is the case, it must be explained). A description of the samples and the apparatus is
o.k., but must be brief.
         Subheadings of this section can help to divide procedures into discrete, clearer sections. If you had
any problems that might be important, describe them under a sub-heading: Procedural Problems. Illustrations
of samples and fixtures may be very helpful.
         Data. The numerical or qualitative results of the test or study should be presented with a minimum of
explanatory text. There is no discussion or analysis of the meaning of the data in this section. Data are usually
best presented in tabular or chart form. Be sure to show both raw and converted data, and to describe any
manipulations or conversions performed on the data. Final data must always be in Systeme Internationale (SI)
units. English units may be added in parentheses, if desired. Spend some time planning your data
representation. It is crucial to communicating to your reader.
         Be sure in every test to compare your data to published values for the same materials. Whenever it
will help to clarify the results, provide charts or graphs. Correct and incorrect use of charts and graphs will be
discussed in class lectures.
         Discussion. This is the most important part of your report. You will interpret the data and state
your conclusions. You may also want to describe or mention any aspects of the test or data which do not relate
directly to the purposes of the study.
         The discussion is the most important part of the report, because you display your own grasp of the
topic here. You must explain why the results turned out as they did. You will also need to explain what the
results mean in terms of the materials or processes under study. Explain what implications there are for
selection, application, or processing of the material(s).
         References. Your reference list will contain complete entries for each source of information used in
the development of the test or experiment, and in the interpretation of the data. Inclusionary Rule: Each
source listed in the reference list must be mentioned (cited) in the text, and each source cited in the text must
be listed in the reference list (APA, 1983, p. 111).
         Appendices. Appendices are rarely used, but can be useful whenever support material is bulky or
would interfere with the main body of your report. They can also be used for material that is not directly
related to the report, if it cannot be obtained elsewhere and may be of interest to the serious reader. Do not
include a copy of your standardized test method.

Technical Report Style
         Style refers to all those aspects of presentation and writing which aid in making your report easy to
read and to understand. Below you will find style guidelines for writing, use of headings, and illustrations.
         Writing. The writing in a technical report must be clear, accurate, and concise. Sentences should be
short, and paragraphs and headings are used to separate divisions of content within the report. Nothing should
be in your report which does not contribute to the message. Spelling is important, and correct and clear
sentence structures should be used.
         Technical reports are written in the third person singular, neuter gender; for example:

        ‘The study was conducted’, rather than            ‘Measurements were taken’, rather than
                ‘We did the study’                               ‘I took measurements’

        Avoid mentioning yourself or a lab partner in your report, as this distracts the reader away from the
contents, and toward the writer of the report.


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Tech XXX                                                                          Report Format Guidelines
         Headings. Headings help to break a report into comprehensible and identifiable sections. They are
very important, as they make a report much easier to read, but they should not be overused. APA-approved
heading styles are shown in Table 1.(in descending order).
         Illustrations. Illustrations are desirable whenever they will help clarify the message. They should
be only as large as is necessary, and they should be neatly and clearly done. Label illustrations as figures
(such as drawings of fixtures, and diagrams), charts (such as bar charts), and tables (grouped numbers or
words), and give each one a number and a title.
         Each illustration must have an explanatory caption and be separated from the rest of the text by
spacing. Be sure not to cram them between lines or at the top or bottom of pages. If borrowed or adapted
from another source, a reference should appear at the bottom of the illustration and the source should be listed
in the reference list as well.

Figure 1. Levels of Headings
                               Centered Upper and Lowercase Heading
                          A Centered, Underlined, and Upper-Lowercase Heading
A Flush Side Heading
                An indented paragraph heading. The text follows this type of heading directly. Do
not number or letter the sections or headings in your papers.

Headings are shown in descending order (APA, 1983, p. 66). Boldface may be used instead of underlining, if
you wish. Do not combine boldface and underlining. Do not use the highest level of heading shown unless
you need it.
         References. References must be cited in the text where they are used (APA, 1983, p. 107). The
reference list goes at the end of your report, beginning on a separate page, in alphabetical order. Endnotes may
be used in some cases. Footnotes and numeric references are discouraged. Inclusionary Rule: every reference
in your list must be cited in the text of your report, and every source of information cited in your report must
be listed in the reference list. Personal communications are cited only in the text (see APA index).

                                         Reference List Examples
Reference List
A.S.T.M. (1981). Standard methods for testing small clear specimens of timber (D143), from 1981 Annual
     Book of Standards. American Society for Testing and Materials: Philadelphia, PA.

Richardson, T.A. (1983). Industrial Plastics: Theory and application. South-Western Publ. Co.: Palo Alto,
     CA., for the Society of Plastics Engineers.

Zealot, F.G. (1983). A new method for calculating spring rates. Modern Metals, vol. 8, number 2, October 2;
      pp. 83 to 89.

Citations in Text
        The examples below show how citations would appear in the text of your reports. They should always
be included after the information obtained from the reference, and before the period at the end of the sentence:
        ~(APA, 1983), or APA (1983), or (APA, 1983, p. 10).
        ~(ASTM, 1981), or ASTM method for testing small clear specimens of timber (1981)
        ~(Bates, 1981)
        ~(Stivers, Paul, Personal communications, SJSU, Nov. 5th, 1999)

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Tech XXX                                                                          Report Format Guidelines

                                  Technical Report Writing Checklist
As you prepare your outlines and write your reports, the following checklist may help you to be sure that you
have not made any serious errors or omissions:

   _____        If this is a lab report, have you conducted your test according to a standard test method? If
                not, is it because there is no standard method? Have you listed the number and full title of the
                method in the procedures section of your report?

   _____        Have you identified all the variables related to the materials and conditions of your test? Have
                you attempted to control all the variables that you are not interested in studying? Have you
                discussed any uncontrolled variables?

   _____        Are you working from an outline, or making it up as you go?
   _____        Have you done any background reading, to help you understand the materials implications of
                your study? Compared test results to published values?

   _____        Does your discussion or main report body reflect the knowledge gained from these readings?
                Have you given credit where it is due?
   _____        Are the sections of your report provided with appropriate and meaningful headings, APA
                style, to make the report easier to read and understand?
   _____        Do the individual sections of your report contain the information indicated in these guidelines?
   _____        Have you indicated, by citations in the text of your report, where ideas or information come
                from either books or journals that you have read?
   _____        Does each citation in the report have a corresponding entry in the reference list?
   _____        Does each entry in the reference list have a corresponding citation in the text?
   _____        Are your entries in the reference list correct and complete, and in alphabetical order by author
                as specified by APA?
                Is the report proofread for:

   _____                spelling errors?
   _____                grammatical errors?
   _____                poor sentences and poorly chosen words?

   _____        Is it all neatly typed, double spaced (so your instructor can write between the lines)?




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Tech XXX                                                                Report Format Guidelines
Sample cover page - long reports




                                       Metallurgical Analysis
                      of SAE/AISI 1018 and 1045 Cold Rolled Steels




                                                      by

                                               Serena Wolton
                                               Thomas Beckett
                                               David Arancott
                                                Lydia Smith




                                            A Term Project Report

                                                      for

                                               Dr. Seth P. Bates



                                       Tech 103, Industrial Materials
                                               Section ###
                                               Date, Year

                                           Department of Technology
                                            College of Engineering
                                           San Jose State University




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Tech XXX                                                                                         Report Format Guidelines
Sample cover page - short reports

Tech 103, Industrial Materials                                                                                 Serena Wolton
Section #                                                                                                     Thomas Beckett
                                                                                                                   Date, Year




                                                 Metallurgical Analysis

                               of SAE/AISI 1018 and 1045 Cold Rolled Steels




Abstract
        Metallurgical analysis of 1018 and 1045 CRS followed heat treatments to discover the nature and
extent of changes in microstructure that would occur. Three samples were treated by annealing, quenching,
and normalizing, respectively.....



                 [When an abstract is used, the main report starts on the next page,which is numbered as page 1.
                              When there is no abstract, the introduction follows the title directly.]


Introduction
        This report describes the purposes, methods, and results of a metallurgical analysis of two samples of
cold rolled steel (CRS). The . . . .




a1887dc6-fda3-4d5b-ab1f-088c32e56121.doc                                                                     S Bates, page 8

								
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