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Writing a Technical Report

Unlike essays, technical reports are divided into sections and meant to be objective. The sections should generally follow the order defined below.

Title Page

A title page requires:
  • the title of the report,
  • the author's name,
  • the institution name (the name of your school), and
  • the date of publication.
The contents must be evenly spaced and should be visually appealing.

There should be a 1" margin on top, bottom, and right side; the left margin has a 1-1/2" margin to accommodate punched holes (these margins apply to all pages).

Title pages are not numbered.

The title should be specific and brief. A good title would tell a lot about the content, the tone, and the intent of the report.

A common format for titles is to first identify the general subject, then identify the particular segment of that subject (eg. Peer-to-Peer Computer Networks: A Comparison of Low Cost Systems).

Summary

In a formal report, the summary is located before the table of contents. In this case, the summary begins on page i (lower case Roman numeral 1).

It is the most important page of the report -- it must encourage the reader to read further.

To write a summary properly, it should be written last.

In a more informal report, the summary is located after the body of text but before the bibliography. In this case, it is numbered normally.

Table of Contents

The table of contents is located after the summary in a formal report, or after the title page in an informal report. 

The table of content page is not numbered.

If possible, the table of contents should be created using "dot leaders", not periods. 

All appendices must be listed.

Only starting pages for each section are listed, not the range of pages.

The summary is not listed in the table of contents if it appears before the table of contents.

List of Figures

Only include a list of figures if there is a significant number of figures. It can be included on bottom of Table of Contents page if room permits, otherwise, put it on the next page.

List of Tables

Use the same guidelines as List of Figures.

Introduction

The introduction prepares the reader for the details in the discussion. 

The introduction must include three components:
  • the background of the situation,
  • the purpose of the report, defining what the contents of the report aim to achieve, and
  • the scope of the report (i.e. who it's for, what is basically covers, and if there are any limitations in the content).
In very long reports, the introduction may be broken down into various subtopics.

The introduction is numbered normally.

Discussion (Body of Report)

Note that the word "discussion" is never part of a heading. The specific heading must be related to the content of the discussion.

The discussion may follow on the same page as the introduction, or may begin on a new page.

The discussion must flow logically; it should answer any questions the reader may have.

When writing the discussion, always remember what the objectives of your report are.

The discussion can be comprised of various headings.

The discussion pages are numbered normally

Conclusions 

The conclusions should not provide any new information; it should only be based on facts in the discussion.

It may follow on the same page as the final page of the discussion, or may begin on a new page.

It should be as brief as possible.

The main points should draw from the final paragraphs or statements in each of the discussion sections.

It should satisfy the requirements established in the introduction.

Recommendations

The recommendations generally follow the same guidelines as conclusions, but do not necessarily draw from the final paragraphs or statements in each of the discussion sections.

Bibliography (References)

You can use a website like  http://www.easybib.com/ to create the entries for your bibliography.

Any technical report should draw its information from a number of sources (in other words, more than one...).

Appendices

The appendices contain complex analyses, large drawings and illustrations, photographs, detailed test results, cost comparisons, etc.

All appendices are numbered as a separate document (i.e. starting with page "1"), and appear with an identifying letter (eg."Appendix A").

The appendices appear in the same order as they are referred to in the document.

(Instructor note: this page is based on 0181_TECHNICALREPORTWRITING.pdf)

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