Technical Report Writing-2

Technical Report Writing-2
Technical Report
Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Maysarah
Dr. Mohammed Al-Gayyar
GEN 310
Is a structured written presentation directed to interested readers for a specific
purpose, aim or request
A report should be
True facts, precise wording, supporting data, reference to sources
All the important ideas in as few words as possible
Avoid repetitions
Easy to read
Clear organisation of the text: sections, subsections, headings,
subheadings, paragraphing, numbering….
Do not use too long sentences
Content: include all the relevant information (do not be biased)
Impersonal style (e.g. absence of emotional words, use of passive?,...)
Good report:
Good report should clearly motivate and define the problem, describe the
approach and compare it to other approaches, present and discuss the results.
Writing a report is a skill, that can’t be summarized in a set of rules, but like any
craft can be learnt mainly through lots of practice and feedback.
Different types of reports
1. Technical-background reports
Is the most frequently written type of technical report
It provides detail about a particular topic.
e.g. mobile phone, coastal erosion, DU campus.
2. Instruction leaflets and manuals
Take the form of a user manual for an appliance or a procedure.
e.g. small insert included with a product (as pamphlet), detailed instructions for
setting up production lines.
3. Laboratory report:
Describe an experiment that has been undertaken.
4. Primary research report
Describe experiments and surveys.
Extend the laboratory report by explaining the background to the experiment,
methodology and the facilities.
5. Feasibility report
It details findings such as whether the project is technically possible and feasible.
6. Proposals
As a student: write a short proposal as an assessed piece of coursework
7. Business plan
Plans for starting a business venture or extending an already established
Contain information about proposed business, market place, anticipated share of the
market and financial issues
Planning to write a report
Consider the following
1-Establishing the purpose
Is written with the intention of achieving some objective
Based on practical work, industrial or business situation
Is to investigate, present and analyze information thoroughly and logically
Recommend action to solve a problem
Is usually to make proposals
Is established in the topic and is often a client or manager
It is necessary to identify the needs of the readers
Awareness of the reader to determine how much background information needs
to be given in the report
Bridge the gap between the readers background knowledge and their needs
Awareness of the readers helps to determine the choice of vocabulary, degree of
details and tone of report
3-Investigating Past Knowledge
This may involve a literature review and interviews with key people. We recommend
that you:
Prepare your reading list, making sure you find out if you need to get information
from sources other than books and articles.
Collect your information.
Consider interviewing or talking to people who are involved. (Avoid "hearsay")
You can also check collected brochures and pamphlets.
4-Obtaining New Evidence
You may need to do some of the following:
-Carry out experiments.
- Carry out calculations
-Collect data.
- Carry out a design.
-Visit a site.
- Conduct interviews.
5-Conclusions and Recommendations
You should be thinking about making conclusions and/or recommendations.
You must consider what will be most important for the readers.
Typical report structure
A system of numbered sections with headings is used
Title page
- Review of literature
- Aim of present research
- Materials
- Procedures
Conclusions and recommendations
Title page
The title page should accurately describe your work and inform a potential reader of
the content. It contains the following elements:
 The full title of the report – informative but not too long
 The name of the person for whom the report has been prepared
 The name of the person(s) who has written the report and ID number(s).
 Module code and the course name.
The date the report is issued
Summary or Abstract
 The most important page in the report – it must be written so as to encourage the
reader to read further
 Should be written after the rest of the report has been written
 Keep it short, make it concise, interesting and informative
 It should include the purpose of the report, what you have done, how you did it,
the main findings, the conclusions that were reached and any recommendations.
It should include the following:
1- General background (review of literature) to the subject area of the report with
references made to others who have worked in the area. This enables you to
show that you have read about your subject and are aware of current work.
2- Purpose (aim) of the present research
Main body of the report
The main body of the report is likely to contain a methodology, results or findings and
a discussion
 Methodology
This section describes: How you carried out your work
 Results or findings
It includes the following:
1- Findings as concisely and clearly as possible with little discussion or analysis
2- Graphs, tables and figures.
 This section discusses the results. (if results are anticipated or unexpected)
 Analyze data and interpret results
 If there are any unexpected results, you should suggest reasons.
 Do not make any exaggerated claims about your findings
 Present a realistic interpretation of your results, and, link them to the purpose
 Compare your findings to those of others
 Show that you have done what was required
 This part is for busy readers and for readers who want to read an overview of the
findings before deciding whether to read the findings in detail (Summarize the
entire work).
 Point out what you have achieved.
 Explain how your results address the task.
 It reviews the main results
 It draws a main conclusion and links to the recommendations by showing a need
for action
 You may make recommendations for future work; this is particularly useful if your
own results were inconclusive
 What did not work and what to do about it
 What aspects of design may need improvement
 The references section is the final part of your report
 Use citations to refer to material that you have used in obtaining your results.
 All references have to be listed in the bibliography at the end of your paper.
Why should I include references in my work?
 It shows the range of reading that you have done
 Support your argument.
 It is a basic academic requirement
System used for writing references:
The Harvard referencing system
Author (date of publication). Title. Volume. Edition. Place of publication: publisher.
e.g. Merriam, J.L. (2003) Engineering Mechanics. Vol.1: Statics. 5th Ed. Hoboken,
N.J.: Wiley
Journal Articles
Author (year) article title. Journal title. Volume. Issue. Page numbers
Kushner, G. B. (2005) Changes Ahead in Health Care. HR Magazine, Vol 50, No 13,
pp. 60-61.
Author. Title. Full address of the web page and also the date on which you accessed
the page
Barger, J. (2000) A biography of Leopold Paula Bloom [accessed 11/07/2006]
This is where you acknowledge any help and support you have received whether
from your supervisors, colleagues or external bodies.
Anything that can’t be left out, but is too large for the main part of the report and
would serve to distract or interrupt the flow of the report.
It includes:
 Large tables of data
 Detailed explanations and descriptions of used techniques
 If more than five symbols, abbreviations or acronyms are used in the report, they
are to be listed with their explanations
Layout, presentation and style of writing
Guidelines for the Layout
 To facilitate reading of your report, it should be well laid out in a structured and wellorganized manner.
 Check with your department, supervisor or lecturer for any specific requirements
regarding margin width, line spacing and choice of font.
 You should be consistent with your layout throughout the whole of your report.
1-Page Layout
It is usual to break down your contents into sections and subsections of up to three
levels. This enables the reader to go directly to a section that is of particular interest
to him
2-Text Formatting
2.1 Main Text
 It is suggested to use a serif font for all your text, 12 or 14 pt. Times New Roman is
a frequent choice for technical writers. (Avoid using italic or bold face in the body of
your text).
 Use paragraphs to structure your ideas. As a rule of thumb: each idea should be
dedicated to one paragraph. Try to use short and precise sentences. Split longer
sentences into multiple shorter ones.
2.2 Headings
 Headings should be clearly identified (slightly larger font, bold face) and numbered.
 It is suggested to use up to three levels of numbering for documents of 20 pages or
less and to use up to 4 levels for all other documents.
3- Tables
 Tables are numbered consecutively throughout the report (short paper) or within
each main section (long document).
 Tables must have a caption. It is customary to centre the table number and its
description and place this above the table.
 All tables must be given an appropriate and meaningful title.
4- Figures
 Figures are numbered consecutively throughout the report or within each main
 Figures must have a caption. It is customary to centre the figure number and its
description and place this below the figure.
 In the case of graphs it is important to label axes, state the units you are using and
apply a sensible scale to ensure that intermediate values can easily be determined
Tables and Figures
 Each table and figure should have at least one cross-reference to it in the text.
 It is customary to refer to the table or figure by its given number rather than the
table below or above
 Tables and figures are presented in the text at a convenient position for both layout
and viewing in relationship to the text that they relate to or they may be placed at
the end of the report (it is more convenient for your readers if they are placed close
to the relevant text).
5- Equations
 Equations are consecutively numbered or numbered within each section and
referred to in the text.
 Bullet points (if not over used) are useful as they clearly convey important points to
the readers.
 If the report is to be bound, so the left hand margin should be large enough to allow
for binding.
6- Index
 For documents of 20 pages or more, you should include a table of contents.
 For documents of pages 40 and more you should also give a list of figures and
 A glossary might be helpful if you use a significant number of abbreviations or terms
you assume the reader is not familiar with.
 Arial font is generally used for text in memos, e.mails and examination papers,
however equations and Greek characters are presented in Times New Roman. (It
may be departmental requirements)
 Determine size of font and line spacing. If there are not any specifications it is
suggested to use 12 pt font with single line spacing.
 Ensure that the first time you use an abbreviation or acronym the full description is
 If many abbreviations or technical terms are used it will be helpful to include a
Plagiarism and paraphrasing
References have to include at least title and authors name as well as some
information on how and where to obtain the document ( e.g. publisher ,journal title ,
pages ) .
 You must also give information on the date of the publication.
 Use citations to refer to material that you have used in obtaining your results.
 Always cite (i.e. give a reference) to other related work or facts/opinions that you
 Never pass off the work of others as your own – this is plagiarism and is a very big
academic crime!!
 If you do not indicate the sources of your ideas, it could appear that you are
wrongfully claiming another author’s ideas or words to be your own
 This is known as plagiarism
 Never take the work of others without giving proper credit
 Never take verbatim sentences/paragraphs from the literature
If you feel that you must use verbatim material, use quotation marks and a
 Cut & Paste Plagiarism
Whenever you take an entire sentence or significant phrase from a source, you must
use quotation marks and reference the source.
 Word Switch Plagiarism
If you take a sentence from a source and simply change around a few words, it is still
 Style Plagiarism
If you follow a Source Article sentence-by-sentence or paragraph-by-paragraph, it is
plagiarism, even though none of your sentences is exactly like those in the Source
article or even in the same order. You are copying is the author's reasoning style.
Other types of academic dishonesty
1. Collusion : Allowing work to be copied by another student , Copying another
student’s work with their knowledge , Doing another student’s work for them
2. Falsification : Fabricating references or a bibliography , Inventing/Altering data
3. Copying : Copying another student’s work without their knowledge
4. Cheating : Not contributing a fair share to group work
5. Plagiarism :
 Paraphrasing material from a source without acknowledging the original author
 Copying material for a report – without acknowledging the source
 Lifting information form the Internet without sourcing it
Submitting work from an outside source
How to avoid plagiarism
 Develop a system to record bibliographic information for all sources you use
 Take careful notes and develop a system to distinguish:
Text you have copied from the source
Text you have paraphrased or summarised
Your own ideas
 Compile your reference list as you write your assignment
 Get into the habit of paraphrasing appropriately
Quotation : to put the exact words between Quotes.
say it in your own way
Structure: the grammatical structure should be changed if this can be done
without changing meaning. Often this can be done by joining up sentences or by
dividing up long sentences.
Meaning: your paraphrase must have the same meaning as the source; it
should also have the same relationship between main ideas and supporting
Words: use different vocabulary when possible, usually more common
synonyms/expressions and simpler phrases. Keep specialized vocabulary
which has no synonyms (e.g., calcium; plastic; theory; neutron), proper names
(e.g., Europe; World Health Organization), numbers and formulae (e.g. 50%;
Length: the length should not vary very much from the length of the original.
Style: should be your own and not an imitation of the source, even if your
own style seems less perfect to you.
Accurate (the ideas in the paraphrase are the same as in the source)
Original (the language use is different from the source)
Grammatically correct
You must cite a reference source when you use:
a direct quote
information expressed in your own words (i.e. paraphrase)
diagrams, tables, graphs , photos
You do not need to cite a reference when you use:
Your own personal experience or opinion
Common knowledge
Editing and Proofreading
Is editing the same thing as proofreading?
Not exactly. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, editing and
proofreading are two different stages of the revision process. Both demand close and
careful reading, but they focus on different aspects of the writing and employ different
Editing is what you begin doing as soon as you finish your first draft. You reread your
draft to see, for example, whether the paper is well-organized, the transitions
between paragraphs are smooth, and your evidence really backs up your argument.
You can edit on several levels:1. Content:Have you done everything the assignment requires? If it is required to do so, does
your paper make an argument? Is the argument complete? Have you supported each
point with adequate evidence? Is all of the information in your report relevant to the
2. Overall structure :Are headings clear and concise? Does your report have an appropriate introduction
and conclusion? Is your topic clearly stated in your introduction? Is it clear how each
paragraph in the body of your report is related to your topic? Are the paragraphs
arranged in a logical sequence? Have you made clear transitions between
3. Structure within paragraphs:Does each paragraph have a clear topic sentence? Does each paragraph stick to
one main idea? Are there any extraneous or missing sentences in any of your
paragraphs? Do the ideas hang together cohesively?
4. Clarity:Have you defined any important terms that might be unclear to your reader? Is the
meaning of each sentence clear ? Is it clear what each pronoun (he, she, it, this, etc.)
refers to? Have you chosen the proper words to express your ideas?
5. Style:Have you used an appropriate tone (formal, informal, persuasive, etc.)? Have you
varied the length and structure of your sentences? Do you tend to use the passive
voice too often? Does your writing contain a lot of unnecessary phrases?
6. Citations:Have you cited appropriately quotes, paraphrases, and ideas you got from sources?
Are your citations in the correct format?
Are there too many or too few quotations? Are the paraphrases in your own words?
You should proofread only after you have finished all of your other editing revisions.
Proofreading means examining your text carefully to find and correct typographical
errors and mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuations.
Why proofread? It's the content that really matters, right?
Content is important. But like it or not, the way a report looks affects the way others
judge it. When you've worked hard to develop and present your ideas, you don't want
careless errors distracting your reader from what you have to say. It's worth paying
attention to the details that help you to make a good impression.
Before You Proofread:1-Be sure you've revised the larger aspects of your text. Don't make corrections
at the sentence and word level if you still need to work on the content.
Proofread for only one kind of error at a time. If you try to identify and revise
too many things at once, you risk losing focus, and your proofreading will be
less effective. It's easier to catch grammar errors if you aren't checking
punctuation and spelling at the same time.
2-Set your text aside for a while (15 minutes, a day, a week) :Some distance from the text will help you see mistakes more easily.
3-Eliminate unnecessary words before looking for mistakes.
4-Know what to look for. From the comments of your professors or writing on past
report, make a list of mistakes you need to watch for.
When You Proofread:
Work from a printout, not the computer screen. (But see for computer
functions that can help you find some kinds of mistakes.)
Read out loud. This is especially helpful for spotting run-on sentences, but
you'll also hear other problems that you may not see when reading silently.
Use a blank sheet of paper to cover up the lines below the one you're
reading. This technique keeps you from skipping ahead of possible mistakes.
Use the search function of the computer to find mistakes you're likely to
make. Spell checkers have a limited dictionary, so some words that show up
as misspelled may really just not be in their memory. In addition, spell
checkers will not catch misspellings that form another valid word.
If you tend to make many mistakes, check separately for each kind of
error, moving from the most to the least important.
For instance, read through once (backwards, sentence by sentence) to
check for fragments; read through again (forward) to be sure subjects and
verbs agree, and again.
Circle every punctuation mark. This forces you to look at each one. As you
circle, ask yourself if the punctuation is correct.
Most people devote only a few minutes to proofreading, hoping to catch
any glaring errors that jump out from the page. But a quick and cursory
reading, usually misses a lot. It's better to work with a definite plan that helps
you to search systematically for specific kinds of errors.
Sure, this takes a little extra time, but it pays off in the end.
Medical Laboratory Report
It is the report presented by the medical laboratory to the patient
after taking a specified sample and analyze it upon request ordered by
his physician.
Medical Laboratory Report:
A single page report that has the following structure:
Lab details:
Name of lab, name of
Responsible person, address,
phones, so on…..
Patients details:
Name of patient, age, date,
name of the physician, so on..
Analysis results
Comment and signature of the
physician in charge.
Analysis results
The structure of this part depends on the type of the analysis done. For
1- Urine Analysis :It will contain the following parts:
 Physical examination: including color, aspect, deposit and specific
 Chemical examination: including the results of analysis of protein,
sugar, acetone, nitrite, bilirubin, blood, .........
 Microscopic examination: including pus cells, RBCs, epithelial
cells, fungi, bacteria, ...........
The normal value for each one should be written.
2- Blood analysis :It will contain the following parts:
 Chemical examination: including the results of analysis ordered
by physician like blood picture, protein, sugar, hormones, .....
 Microscopic examination: including abnormal cells, RBCs , WBCs, .
 Microbiological examination : including bacteria ,virus , ......
3-Stool analysis:
It will contain the following parts:
 Physical examination: including color, aspect, consistency ,........
 Microscopic examination: including blood, parasite ,worms, worm
eggs , ............
4-Tissues analysis:
It will contain the following parts:
 Physical examination: including color, aspect, consistency ,....
 Microscopic examination: including tumor cells , ........
How to Read and Understand Medical Laboratory Results:
All laboratory reports must contain certain elements as:15
1-Patient name and ID number. These are required for proper
identification and to ensure test results are linked to the correct
2- Name and address of laboratory. The laboratory where the test
took place must appear on the form for accountability purposes
3- Test report date. This is the day the results were generated and
reported to the ordering physician.
Mandatory Elements Of Lab Reports-Specimens And Tests
1- Headings: Some basic headings include Hematology (the
study of blood cell.) Chemistry (the study of certain chemical
components found in the blood stream or tissues), Urinalysis
(the study of urine and urinary sediments and components),
Bacteriology/Microbiology (the study of bacteria that may be
found in the body), Immunology (the study of the body's defense
substances ,called antibodies), Endocrinology (the study of
hormones), and Blood Banking /Immunohematology (the study of
blood types and blood cell protein).
2- Specimen Source. This is critical because something like
protein can be measured from multiple sources such as your
blood or urine .
3-Date and time of specimen collection. Because some tests
are affected by when the specimen was collected, this will appear
on every report .
4 - Name of test performed. Although the name of the test will
appear, it is often abbreviated. has a clear list
of abbreviations for a variety of tests.
5-Test results. Results can appear in a number of different
ways, depending on the test. The result can be shown as a
number (i.e. in a cholesterol level scan), a positive or negative
indication (i.e. in a pregnancy test), or in text (i.e. the name of
bacteria taken from an infected site). Lab resorts
that are
abnormal will usually be highlighted in some way. An "L" may
that the number is lower than the reference range or an
"H" may mean it is
higher than that.
Results that are dangerously abnormal must be reported
immediately to the physician and are usually marked with an asterisk.
6-Reference ranges. These are the sample population that is used
to determine whether a test result is normal or abnormal. There are
many factors that can
within a reference range
determine whether or not your results fall
including your age and sex, overall level of
stress, or a pregnancy . It is entirely possible to fall out of the reference
range on a particular lab test despite being out of good health. You
should consult your physician if you are
concerned about a certain
Flags : Flags are letters that ask for special attention to a lab result.
1-Common lab flags. These include C for Critical (sometimes it can stand
for Comment), H for High, L for Low, CH for Critical High, CL for Critical
Low ,and D for Delta. A Delta value is a large and sudden change of a
lab result from the previous test result.
2- No flag usually means a result is normal. Normal values can usually
be found on the right hand side of the lab report.
Your Rights
1- Obtaining a copy of the report. it is your right to get copies of those
tests from the doctor or laboratory that administered them.
2-Reviewing information. Your doctor is required to explain any lab
results to you during your scheduled consultation with him or her .
3-Never use your lab results to treat yourself. Lab results are only one
part of a broad array of tools a doctor uses to diagnose and manage
diseases or disease states. A full medical examination, images (X-Rays,
CT Scans, etc.), patient history and other diagnostic tools help your
physician .
• Exercise: Write a medical laboratory report
• Work individually
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