Keep Precise: 12 Technical Report Writing Tips to Craft Just the Paper
Writing a technical report is not an easy task, but it is a requirement for many undergraduate and master’s degree programs, especially the science and engineering programs. When writing a technical report, your goal is to take complex information and communicate it to the reader in a way that is easy to understand. If you want to achieve this goal, here are some tips to keep in mind when crafting your technical report.
1. Always Use Plain Language
Before you begin writing, take time to know the audience who will be reading the technical report and tailor the content for them. Be clear and concise in your communication while taking into account the audience’s level of knowledge. If you write in a way the reader does not understand, you have failed to achieve the goal of writing a technical report.
2. Avoid Vague Terms
Using vague terms is a big no when it comes to writing a technical report. Don’t say things like “Many people believe the earth is flat,” “It takes a while” or “It takes about 5 minutes.” Always be specific and provide actual quantities. Say things like “It takes 5 minutes” or “5% of people believe the world is flat.”
3. Don’t Make Claims Without Proof
If you make a claim in a technical report, make sure that it is something you can prove. If you don’t have proof, tell the reader that you are just mentioning possibilities or that it is something that needs further looking into. But as long as you make a claim, be prepared to back it up.
4. Avoid Slang
Slang or jargon has no place in technical report writing. Including slang and jargon in your report is a recipe for a communication breakdown if your reader is not familiar with the terms, which can happen as people have different backgrounds and come from different places. Remember, always use plain language.
5. Avoid Clichés
The people who will read your technical paper are people who probably do a lot of reading. This means using clichés or any other overused phrases in your text is bound to irritate them. Although they might seem smart and witty, clichés show lack of original thought. Common cliches to avoid include “As the saying goes”, “At the end of the day”, “Against all odds”, “The be all and end all”, “Easier said than done” and “For all intents and purposes”.
6. Don’t Talk Down to the Reader
One thing you must never do when writing a technical report is to talk to your audience like idiots. Always give them the benefit of the doubt and assume your audience is more knowledgeable about the subject matter than you think they are. So never talk down to them.
7. Don’t Include Non-Technical Material
Being a technical paper, it makes no sense to include non-technical material, such as poems, anecdotes, and personal stories. Sure, if they are important to the subject matter, including them might not be considered offensive. However, if they are not important to the topic at hand, readers might find them annoying.
8. Leave Editing for Later
Editing your report as you write it the first time can make the writing process longer than it should be. This is because you will be concentrated on making each sentence and paragraph perfect, which can increase the amount of time it takes to write the report. Even worse, you can find out later during the actual editing stage that you need to remove those sentences and paragraphs you spent time perfecting. So write the first draft and then edit it afterward (turn off spell check if you have to).
9. Make the Report Eye-Friendly
A report that is easy on the eyes is always better for the audience. Make use of headings, subheadings, bullet points, and line breaks. Don’t go overboard when underlining, italicizing and bolding the text. And you should always use a 12 pt font throughout the entire report.
10. Shorten the Report if You Can
Reports need to be edited ruthlessly, and during this process, you might find out that you can cut out some non-essential stuff. If you find that removing certain parts of your report still make it readable, then you should remove them. Don’t write 3000 words when you can write 1500 words instead – the shorter the report is, the better.
11. Give Yourself More Time
Don’t underestimate the time it takes to write a technical report, especially if you want to make it a good one. Take the amount of time you think you can write a report and double it. Also, it is always a good idea to start writing it as early as possible to give yourself more time to edit.
12. Let Someone Else Read Your Report
Criticizing your own work is difficult, and that is why it is very important to get a second pair of eyes to look at the paper before you make the final edits. Get a peer or your professor to read it and point out any mistakes. If they point out mistakes, don’t take it personally. Look at it as a chance to make your report even greater.
When writing a technical report, keep this list handy to help you craft a great paper. Then again, you might not have time to put the items on the list in practice if you are overwhelmed with school work (like most college students are). If you find yourself in this scenario, professional custom writing services are always a great help if you want to see how technical reports are written. This way, you will always have a perfect sample to refer to.