Table of Contents
As the term suggests, technical reports relay information about research, investigations, and examinations. They are structured accounts of some event, experiment, or process that has been researched, examined, investigated, and analysed systematically and under specific intellectual constraints. The primary objective of any report is to present a clear, concise, precise, and informative written rendition of some research or experiment for a target audience and specific objectives.
Good technical reports should be easy to follow with catchy & informative titles, well-defined structure & organization, cohesive text, clearly labelled tables, formulas & diagrams, and concise explanations. However, there are no hard and fast rules for developing excellent technical reports, as every report is tailored for a particular purpose and audience. The key focuses should always be clarity of communication and the quality of the content within.
This guide lays out a detailed structural framework for technical reports & breaks down the entire writing process chapter-wise with minute details. Let’s start right away with a look at report introductions.
Order, logic, clarity, and planning are vital for developing systematic & insightful reports. The same goes for the reporting procedures in the domain. That is why the pre-writing and planning are crucial to a report’s success.
Chalking out the right writing plan, researching, and outlining are key aspects of the pre-writing stage.
Analyzing and understanding the task & laying out clear-cut objectives is one of the first things to do.
As a writer, you need clear and sound ideas about the underlying topic, the study/process/experiment under focus, the nitty-gritty of the procedures & methodologies, the theoretical framework, and essential references. All such information is part of pre-emptive research and pre-writing & crucial for developing a clear focus of the report’s objectives.
Preliminary research involves collating essential background information about the report’s domain and subject. Alongside background information, you will have to learn about the details of the technical process to be elaborated, including its main stages, findings, and discussions.
Impressing the audience is key to the success of any report. Clarity, organization, structure, and cohesion are, thus, vital. In the organizing and outlining stage, you divide and sub-divide all the information into specific headings.
Key aspects of a technical report structure include à
For example, if the report is about a software development project, then key headings can be a quick overview of the problem statement, your work on the project, key technical details and analytical break-down of your work, the results of your contribution, and the implications
The formatting guidelines, writing, and referencing styles should already be given to you. Do remember them or note them to adhere to them throughout the write-up.
Brevity and conciseness are key features of any technical report. Their introductions must be clear and precise when laying out the report’s context and presenting crucial background information about the experiment/research under focus.
The introduction is a crucial aspect of the technical report. It is the true start of the paper, and the nuances of the information presented can make or break the success of the overall report.
A well-written introduction should relay the following:
Typical technical report introductions comprise four to five paragraphs. As introductions go, the first paragraph needs to grab the audience’s attention and draw them in by citing the importance of the report and the investigations within. The second and third paragraphs lay down vital background information and how the current solution approach succeeds where previous approaches have failed. The final paragraphs present the objectives and the report’s clear statement of purpose.
Always keep in mind that the reader is the most important person. Your focus should be to engage, inform, and impress them, and that’s why brevity and clarity are essential. Technical reports are no place to showcase your storytelling skills or go off on a tangent. A good introduction should be able to communicate à
The development of the introduction, the formulation of the title, defining report objectives, formulating an outline, and the necessary preliminary research all come under the pre-writing phase of technical report writing.
All technical reports require a title page and an executive summary or abstract that relays the main findings & discussions of the report.
Titles are important since they are the first thing readers notice. Titles must be eye-catching and informative, relaying the report’s most notable features & insights. They should be able to stir the reader’s interest and irk their curiosity. In cases of highly technical subjects or procedures, the title of the procedure or study can be used as the title.
Nevertheless, here are some things to keep in mind when formulating a report title à
Combine keywords and use task-specific terms to create multiple titles. Go through other reports on the subject for inspiration. And try to incorporate speech melody.
Summaries and abstracts help your audience discover the report’s key insights & decide whether it is worth reading. An abstract of a technical report must provide a clear and concise overview of the main aspects of the subject, the primary results & observations, and prominent discussions.
The audience should gain a more or less clear understanding of the report’s focus & findings through the abstract.
Literature Review/Theoretical Framework, The Study/Process/Experiment/Undertaking, & Methodology – The CORE Chapters of a Technical Report
This chapter and the results and discussion sections form the core of any technical report. Here, writers lay out the details of a study, process, experiment, or endeavor. It all begins with a look at existing studies & theories, the current situation, and/or ontology of the subject.
A look at existing studies on the subject and setting up a clear theoretical framework for further study is important. It doesn’t only help the audience understand things better but guides writers through all its intricacies & technicalities.
The literature review and theoretical framework can be combined into a single chapter. Talk about the most prominent literature and develop a clear & definitive theoretical framework.
Discuss the main aspects of the report’s subject.
Be it a task, an experiment, a process, research, an experiment, or some undertaking, you must present precise details about it. The nature of the details depends upon the subject as well as the purpose & objectives of the report.
A technical report can be descriptive or analytical, comparative or persuasive, or a detailed summary of a task or event. It can be a project proposal, a report for a technical committee, a feasibility report, a state-of-the-art report, a project status report, a trend report, etc. No matter what the kind, the goals and the nature of the report’s subject determine the details and structure of this chapter.
Break down and dissect only the most pertinent details of the subject. Avoid adding any extraneous information or going off tangentially.
Review the methods, procedures, activities, evaluations, etc., precisely
Again, the methodology, the procedures, and the exquisite details depend upon the subject. Certain essential details must be relayed.
Logic, clarity, order, and brevity are key. Make sure you write down the above nitty-gritty of the subject to present as much information as necessary for clear interpretation.
Precisely present key insights, information, observations, project outcomes, statuses, etc. Present primary information and use secondary information to substantiate findings.
Use tables, charts, and graphs where appropriate.
Diagrams, tables, schematics, flow diagrams, models, and visualizations help the audience understand the presented information better. Label all illustrations carefully and add them near relevant sections.
Data and information presented in the results vary according to the nature of the report. They can be experimental findings, survey results & observations, key design features & parameters, performance details, project status details, etc.
In most cases, the results section is the most important aspect of the report. Follow the tips below to present your results perfectly.
Present the findings clearly and objectively.
Present findings and results in a straightforward manner. Do not discuss or interpret them in this section. However, they provide context for raw data and link the findings with their sources.
Use tables, charts, and graphs to structure all the data for better interpretation.
Offer some quick information about the data collation procedures
Relay some details about how the data was generated and collected. Justify your choice of data collection procedures and mention any special considerations or limitations.
Discussion and Analysis
This is where you discuss and dissect the data. Some reports merge the results and discussion sections, presenting data & their analysis simultaneously. In every case, raw data and calculations are galore in technical reports. Placing them in a separate header is best if mathematical and/or statistical calculations are substantial.
All calculations in the report must be based on relations and equations mentioned in the theoretical framework.
Interpret the results and findings.
The technical report’s results should be analyzed, understood, and reported properly. The use of figures and tables should include labels that are referenced in the text and are properly explained and interpreted. Any mistakes should be examined and clarified in terms of how they occurred and how they influenced the conclusion. An error analysis is usually an important conversation component since it compares the findings to what was expected. The information supplied, as a consequence, should be carefully organized. Numerical data are extremely common in technical writing and should be provided in graphs or tables.
Both analysis and interpretation entail deriving inferences from data presented in outcomes. In either case, relate your statements to specific pieces of data and explain how the data backs up your claim.
Compare and contrast with existing literature or benchmarks
Insights and information uncovered need to be compared with previous reports and studies. This is necessary to showcase the significance of the current report and highlight its strengths. Compare and contrast key findings across relevant reports and present everything in a clear & structured layout.
Do acknowledge and mention the limitations & the probable sources of error in the findings. Tell the steps taken to counter any error or inconsistency and also highlight the causes behind the error.
Discuss implications and potential applications
In conclusion, you summarize all major aspects of the report, including the main findings & their implications on the domain or subject under discussion.
Summarize the most significant, valuable, and insightful points of the report. Present them logically and use the questions in the problem statement and/or introduction for context.
Discuss why the report’s findings stand out. Show, with evidence & in light of the original questions, how the results contribute to the problem under discussion. Go back to the introduction, if needed, and integrate your solutions with the ideas & queries there.
Recommend why and where further studies are necessary. Justify the need and ensure they are not due to flaws in your research or reporting.
Cite all sources used in the report.
List and note the metadata of all primary & secondary sources referred to as you work on the report. Citations and references are critical to your report’s credibility, integrity, and overall success.
Follow a specific citation style (e.g., APA, MLA)
Refer to the guidelines or consult with your instructor regarding the referencing style to be followed. Find a reliable citation generator online to speed things up.
Include supplementary information, raw data, or detailed calculations.
Appendices present supplementary but useful information. The materials in these sections aid readers in understanding the deeper nuances of the work done, including any derivations, relations r mathematical calculations, procedures of raw data formatting, technical terms & definitions, details of previous studies, list of symbols & equations, list of organizations & secondary stakeholders in case of project reports, etc.
Add information that’s not critical or directly relevant to the report and may lead to excess or loss of efficiency in presentation.
Label and reference the appendices in the main text
Appendices must be numbered & labeled in sequence. Additionally, all information must be referenced for veracity and integrity purposes.
Review the report for clarity, coherence, and accuracy.
Editing and reviewing should run parallel to writing. This can save a lot of time. Always keep in mind that you are writing to impress and inform an audience. Logic, order, clarity, structure, and preciseness are, thus, of utmost importance. The content must have cohesion and logical flow, with each paragraph and section in relevance to its neighbors as well as to the overall purpose of the report.
Check grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Proofread the final draft minutely. Check for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, as well as adherence to report guidelines & citation styles.
Seek feedback from colleagues or mentors.
Ask your peers, tutors, and instructors for feedback while working on the report. Additionally, compare the reports you discuss in the literature review to compare your progress.
And that brings us to the conclusion of this little guide. Here’s hoping it comes across as a quick & useful reference guide for one and all. Bookmark this guide for future reference, and if you think you need some hands-on expert assistance, connect with MyAssignmenthelp.com today.
All the best!