To get your message across effectively your writing must be free of error. For this reason proofreading and editing are an important part of the writing process. Phillip Verwey, a specialist in the technical report writing field gives some tips to help you put your best foot forward.
While every kind of writing style takes time and skill to properly execute, technical reports can be even more challenging. Phillip Verwey talks about the editing and proofreading aspect of writing.
So how many times should you proofread your work? Verwey believes it should be done a minimum of 3 times. The same rules apply when editing someone else's work.
Start by reviewing the layout, fluency and flow. This first run through should be a general overview of the report. During your second read, check punctuation, grammar and sentence structure. “Finally read the piece from start to finish and make sure everything fits together”.
Another good tip is to allow someone else, preferably somebody with writing experience to edit your work. Even though you know what you want to say your writing may not always communicate your message effectively. Allow other people to point out possible ambiguity or complicated thoughts.
Using programmes to edit your work is a good idea but remember that “spellcheck doesn't always pick up incorrect sentence structure”. Having a fresh pair of eyes can help you see errors that may have been overlooked.
“Feedback should be neutral”. Use a schematic to edit writing for others. Writers should be able to understand corrections clearly and easily.
This is a major pitfall in technical report writing. Refrain from using technical terms, says Verwey, unless you are writing to peers in the same sector.
Bear in mind that the final report will go to the CEO, the finance division, HR and possibly a range of other departments so make sure that the language is accessible.
Use the KISS approach
“Most experts assume people understand”. This is perhaps the biggest blunder writers make. A good rule to follow is to ‘Keep It Short and Simple’. Steer clear of long winded sentences and try not to communicate too many thoughts in a short space.
The Technical Report Writing course hosted by Alusani Skills & Training Network® will teach you how to structure, draft and write technical reports. You will also learn how to avoid common pitfalls and create a piece of writing that can be understood.