How to make your technical report look good

The concept of a technical report was developed by people who sought to put together a document that could practically convey complex and specialised information.

According to writing specialist Phillip Verwey, technical reports can be compared to the annual budget in the sense that it is compiled by financial experts yet it must be easily understood by persons with no financial background.

At its core, “a technical report is written by technical people, for non-technical people.”

What makes this report different from other business documents is that it primarily contains technical information. The challenge for the technical person is to make this high level document accessible to the common man.

Verwey highlights layout and language as two key features of good technical reports.

Looks Matter

“Like any other document, layout is essential.” says Verwey. In the same way that a newspaper or essay has a specific structure to it, good technical reports follow a particular pattern.

'There is an established format for every type of report'. Verwey explains that there are international formats that writers should adhere to.

He argues that if newspapers were laid out like novels, as one continuous piece of writing, readers would avoid them. The same is true for reports. Regardless of the quality of the content, “the report must look as good as it is”.

Unsurprisingly one of the biggest complaints to surface during training is that of 'structure'.

Generally, technical professionals are never taught the proper structure for technical report writing. During the course Verwey addresses structure and layout to help writers navigate this tricky minefield of writing faux pas.

Say what you mean

People are employed as technical professionals not 'report writers’; therefore the task of writing takes a back seat.

Many technical professionals for example engineers, who have not be trained to write reports are prone to using jargon, abbreviations and other highly technical, and often confusing language.

'Don't assume people will know what you know', says Verwey.

He advises, all technical writers to keep their reports simple and to point.

For more insights join the Technical Report Writing course held by Alusani Skills & Training Network®. Please contact Alusani® for the latest dates. You can save up to R2000, when you register and pay early! For more information call 011 447 7470, email faith@alusani.co.za or visit the Alusani website

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