A Guide to Writing a Technical Report
Technical report format – how to apply it
When it comes to the writing of a technical report, the format is very important because it is unique from other reports in that it carries technical information. A technical report contains technical information which should be planned well. You need to understand all the structure to achieve your objective. A technical report should contain the following:
The title page
The title page comes first when you write your report. The title page contains the title of the report the date and the institution details plus supervisor. This first page is also referred to as the cover page. It is good to note that the content of the title page does not add up to the word count of your report. The title is a separate entity when it comes to word count, so you should not include it on your word count.
In the introduction, you are supposed to highlight the main aims of the paper to the reader. Let the reader understand the purpose of you writing the report. You can also comment on the flow of the report so that the reader can know what to expect. You should avoid copying the introduction given in the lab hand out and instead come up with your own.
In summary, you need to write an overview of the whole report including the results and conclusions made.
This is the part that you need to state every detail of the experiment starting from the equipment that you used to the procedure for the test. This section can be omitted if the report did not involve an experiment at all.
Results and discussions
This is where you are expected to explain the results that you obtained from your experiments. You should give a clear explanation so that the reader cannot ask themselves any question on your results.
The body is the most important part of your report because it carries your content. You should introduce small subheadings in your report as per the point being put across. This will make your work look more presentable as the reader will be guided with this subheading what point you are talking about.
You can also place your points in number form or list so that it becomes easier for your reader to understand what you are talking about. You should also separate your points to avoid bringing confusion in your work; each point should be under its subtopic.
When it comes to the writing of your conclusion what you need to do is write a summary of the main points in the body of your report and wrap it up.
In conclusion, you also need to use words that suggest you are concluding your work to prepare the reader psychologically, that you are about to finish. Remember also that the conclusion should be short and precise avoid a lot of stories in your concluding paragraph, spare all the stories for the body of your report.
The recommendation usually comes after the conclusion. In the recommendation, you are supposed to suggest solutions to the challenges that are there in the body. This is where your opinion is welcomed.
In the reference, you need to list all the materials that you used in your research. You may have quoted some text somewhere, so it is at this point that you need to list it so that it does not become a plagiarized work. When you write the reference, you acknowledge that the content that you used is from a certain source.
A bibliography is more like the reference but in a bibliography, you can go ahead and list the sources that you did not use in your research, but they may be useful in the explanation of your content. Mostly bibliography usually contains sources that can be used for further reading on the topic.
In this section, you are supposed to list all the people that helped you in coming up with your report. This includes even those that proofread your work to make sure it is well written. This is a way of appreciating the effort of other people in your work.
You may have used other materials to put across your points in the report such as graphs or diagrams but are not necessarily required in the report. This is the place where you should mention them.
After writing your report, the next thing is presenting it. Writing a report is not enough, you need to have adequate skills on how best to present your report. A presentation is important because it determines the final outlook of your work.
Below are some of the standard presentation guidelines:
- Script – the report should be printed on an A4 paper on one side. You should note that the hand-written report is not accepted when it comes to the technical report.
- Page numbers – while numbering your pages the title page and the summary is an exception. You should number the pages that contain the content.
- Margins – you should use a margin of at least 2.54cm all round.
- Binding – when joining your report, you can staple it at the top left if it does not comprise of many pages. If the report is too long, then it is good to bind it so that all the pages may be joined well.
For a standard report, you should use font size 12 and style Times New Roman because it is legible and clear. You should also use a spacing of 1.5 or 2 depending on the instructions given by your supervisor but make 1.5 your default value.
How to write a technical report and where to start
Having understood the structure of a technical report and how to orientate everything we can now look at how to come up with the content and write it.
The first thing that you should do before you write your report is assembling all the sources that may be useful in creating content for your report. You can get all this in the library, notes or even in different educational websites and blogs.
You should list down the topics and ideas of what your report is to cover randomly. After listing them arrange them by classifying those that relate with each other to the same group.
After arranging the ideas, you need to write it roughly into small subheadings. This is the rough outline of how the report should appear.
The next step is writing the first draft. At this point, you only need to write the body inclusive of the headings and subheadings to the end. Include the number of reference material that you wish to use.
After you have completed with the first draft, you need to revise it to pinpoint where changes need to be done. At this point, you should ensure that your report contains all the necessary information. You should also consider the reader here so that if it’s a professional report, it portrays the qualities of a professional report. While revising you also need to ensure that all the objectives have been ascertained in the report as per the topic is given.
While writing your report, you may need to use some diagrams or graphs to make the reader understand what you are talking about. Technical information is best put across by use of other means other than word, so you need to know the right format for this diagrams and tables to ensure success in your work. Below are some of the guide on how to oriented various appendices in your report:
- Graphs – your graph should be well labelled to avoid confusion of the variables. When it comes to graphs, you can use pie charts and even bar graphs to indicate the trend of what you are analyzing.
- Diagrams – for the diagrams you should draw simple diagrams, and they should appear after or before the content you are discussing so that the reader can be able to understand its relation.
- Tables – tables are used for summary purposes. A table can help you list points and explain them in brief which helps the reader go through everything in a brief summary. You should also number your tables for easy reference in your work.
- Mathematics – while writing a technical report that involves some analysis, it is better to use mathematics because it makes the analysis easier and convenient.
Tips on writing a good technical report
- For you to have a good technical report, you should avoid overusing different fonts in your work because it makes it fussy. You should use different fonts to pinpoint an idea that you want the reader not to miss on it. You can also use underlining and bolding to serve the same purpose.
- Use of headings and subheadings is also important because it plans your points. The reader is able to understand different points when you categorize them into small headings and sub-headings. The reader may happen to have so little time with your report, and this will make them want to scheme through the major points, so when you have these headings, you make their work easier.
- You may use content that does not belong to you while writing your technical report; this will entail proper in-text citation to avoid unoriginality in your work. It is good to know how to cite just as I have mentioned. After citing the source in your content proceed and list the source in your reference list. To avoid plagiarism, you should also try to use your own words while explaining points do not copy everything word by word because it may turn out to be plagiarized and you will be penalized. If you fail to citeyour content, it is assumed to be your content t, failure to which it is said to be plagiarized and this is a big offence which is punishable.
- You should also be cautious about the information that you obtain from the internet, ensure the sources of information for your report is credible. Sources such as Wikipedia are not reliable and therefore should not be used as your reference. Some of the reference materials that are credible include approved books, articles and journals. You can determine whether a source is credible by looking at the author and their work, a good author will always have positive reviews for all their writings.
- The final step in your report writing is proofreading your work to ensure everything reads well. Proofreading also helps to avoid spelling and grammatic errors which are common mistakes that are unavoidable. When you proofread your work, you will also discover points that are missing in your report which are essential in that topic and you can make necessary adjustments.
- While writing your summary, you should be keen on the length so that it does not go beyond 300 words. A summary should not be too long because it will make the reader tired while reading it, it should be short and to the point. The purpose of the summary is usually to give the reader a brief overview of what you are going to cover in the technical report. The reader should have that rough idea in mind of what to expect so that when they go through it, it becomes easier to understand the points.
Technical report example
It is good to go through different examples of the technical report written by other authors because it builds you skill on presentation of points. Different people will always have different ways of presenting their work, so when you read these samples, you get equipped with different formats to use that when it comes to your own, you will always choose the best that fits your topic.
It is also good to have a template for a technical report with you before you proceed to write yours so that it guides you on the arrangement of your work.