A technical report can either act as a cherry on top of your project or can ruin the entire dough.
Everything depends on how you write and present it.
A technical report is a sole medium through which the audience and readers of your project can understand the entire process of your research or experimentation.
So, you basically have to write a report on how you managed to do that research, steps you followed, events that occurred, etc., taking the reader from the ideation of the process and then to the conclusion or findings.
Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?
Well hopefully after reading this entire article, it won’t.
We’re going to talk about what factors you should consider while making a technical report, what elements should be included in it, their importance, and how you can write a kickass report of your own.
However, note that there is no specific standard determined to write a technical report. It depends on the type of project and the preference of your project supervisor.
With that in mind, let’s dig right in!
What is a Technical Report? (Definition)
A technical report is a written document that consists of the three key features of a research i.e process, progress, and result. It conveys information in an objective, fact-based manner and thus entertains no space for the personal opinion of the author.
Some common areas in which technical reports are used are agriculture, engineering, physical, and biomedical science. So, such complicated information must be conveyed by a report that is easily readable and efficient.
Now, how do we decide on the readability level?
The answer is simple – by knowing our target audience.
A technical report is considered as a product that comes with your research, like a guide for it.
You study the target audience of a product before creating it, right?
Similarly, before writing a technical report, you must keep in mind who your reader is going to be.
Whether it is professors, industry professionals, or even customers looking to buy your project – studying the target audience enables you to start structuring your report. It gives you an idea of the existing knowledge level of the reader and how much information you need to put in the report.
Many people tend to put in fewer efforts in the report than what they did in the actual research..which is only fair.
We mean, you’ve already worked so much, why should you go through the entire process again to create a report?
Well then, let’s move to the second section where we talk about why it is absolutely essential to write a technical report accompanying your project.
Importance of Writing a Technical Report
1. Efficient communication
Technical reports are used by industries to convey pertinent information to upper management. This information is then used to make crucial decisions that would impact the company in the future.
Examples of such technical reports include proposals, regulations, manuals, procedures, requests, progress reports, emails, and memos.
2. Evidence for your work
Most of the technical work is backed by software.
However, graduation projects are not.
So, if you’re a student, your technical report acts as the sole evidence of your work. It shows the steps you took for the research and glorifies your efforts for a better evaluation.
3. Organizes the data
A technical report is a concise, factual piece of information that is aligned and designed in a standard manner. It is the one place where all the data of a project is written in a compact manner that is easily understandable by a reader.
4. Tool for evaluation of your work
Professors and supervisors mainly evaluate your research project based on the technical write-up for it. If your report is accurate, clear, and comprehensible, you will surely bag a good grade.
A technical report to research is like Robin to Batman.
Best results occur when both of them work together.
So, how can you write a technical report that leaves the readers in a ‘wow’ mode? Let’s find out!
How to Write a Technical Report?
When writing a technical report, there are two approaches you can follow, depending on what suits you the best.
- Top-down approach- In this, you structure the entire report from title to sub-sections and conclusion and then start putting in the matter in the respective chapters. This allows your thought process to have a defined flow and thus helps in time management as well.
- Evolutionary delivery- This approach is suitable if you’re someone who believes in ‘go with the flow’. Here the author writes and decides as and when the work progresses. This gives you a broad thinking horizon. You can even add and edit certain parts when some new idea or inspiration strikes.
A technical report must have a defined structure that is easy to navigate and clearly portrays the objective of the report. Here is a list of pages, set in the order that you should include in your technical report.
Cover page- It is the face of your project. So, it must contain details like title, name of the author, name of the institution with its logo. It should be a simple yet eye-catching page.
Title page- In addition to all the information on the cover page, the title page also informs the reader about the status of the project. For instance, technical report part 1, final report, etc. The name of the mentor or supervisor is also mentioned on this page.
Abstract- Also referred to as the executive summary, this page gives a concise and clear overview of the project. It is written in such a manner that a person only reading the abstract can gain complete information on the project.
Preface– It is an announcement page wherein you specify that you have given due credits to all the sources and that no part of your research is plagiarised. The findings are of your own experimentation and research.
Dedication- This is an optional page when an author wants to dedicate their study to a loved one. It is a small sentence in the middle of a new page. It is mostly used in theses.
Acknowledgment- Here, you acknowledge the people parties, and institutions who helped you in the process or inspired you for the idea of it.
Table of contents– Each chapter and its subchapter is carefully divided into this section for easy navigation in the project. If you have included symbols, then a similar nomenclature page is also made. Similarly, if you’ve used a lot of graphs and tables, you need to create a separate content page for that. Each of these lists begins on a new page.
Introduction- Finally comes the introduction, marking the beginning of your project. On this page, you must clearly specify the context of the report. It includes specifying the purpose, objectives of the project, the questions you have answered in your report, and sometimes an overview of the report is also provided. Note that your conclusion should answer the objective questions.
Central Chapter(s)- Each chapter should be clearly defined with sub and sub-sub sections if needed. Every section should serve a purpose. While writing the central chapter, keep in mind the following factors:
- Clearly define the purpose of each chapter in its introduction.
- Any assumptions you are taking for this study should be mentioned. For instance, if your report is targeting globally or a specific country. There can be many assumptions in a report. Your work can be disregarded if it is not mentioned every time you talk about the topic.
- Results you portray must be verifiable and not based upon your opinion. (Big no to opinions!)
- Each conclusion drawn must be connected to some central chapter.
Conclusion- The purpose of the conclusion is to basically conclude any and everything that you talked about in your project. Mention the findings of each chapter, objectives reached, and the extent to which the given objectives were reached. Discuss the implications of the findings and the significant contribution your research made.
Appendices- They are used for complete sets of data, long mathematical formulas, tables, and figures. Items in the appendices should be mentioned in the order they were used in the project.
References- This is a very crucial part of your report. It cites the sources from which the information has been taken from. This may be figures, statistics, graphs, or word-to-word sentences. The absence of this section can pose a legal threat for you. While writing references, give due credit to the sources and show your support to other people who have studied the same genres.
Bibliography- Many people tend to get confused between references and bibliography. Let us clear it out for you. References are the actual material you take into your research, previously published by someone else. Whereas a bibliography is an account of all the data you read, got inspired from, or gained knowledge from, which is not necessarily a direct part of your research.
Style ( Pointers to remember )
Let’s take a look at the writing style you should follow while writing a technical report:
- Avoid using slang or informal words. For instance, use ‘cannot’ instead of can’t.
- Use a third-person tone and avoid using words like I, Me.
- Each sentence should be grammatically complete with an object and subject.
- Two sentences should not be linked via a comma.
- Avoid the use of passive voice.
- Tenses should be carefully employed. Use present for something that is still viable and past for something no longer applicable.
- Readers should be kept in mind while writing. Avoid giving them instructions. Your work is to make their work of evaluation easier.
- Abbreviations should be avoided and if used, the full form should be mentioned.
- Understand the difference between a numbered and bulleted list. Numbering is used when something is explained sequence-wise. Whereas bullets are used to just list out points in which sequence is not important.
- All the preliminary pages (title, abstract, preface..) should be named in small roman numerals. ( i, ii, iv..)
- All the other pages should be named in Arabic numerals (1,2,3..) thus, your report begins with 1 – on the introduction page.
- Separate long texts into small paragraphs to keep the reader engaged. A paragraph should not be more than 10 lines.
- Do not incorporate too many fonts. Use standard times new roman 12pt for the text. You can use bold for headlines.
If you think your work ends when the report ends, think again. Proofreading the report is a very important step. While proofreading you see your work from a reader’s point of view and you can correct any small mistakes you might have done while typing. Check everything from content to layout, and style of writing.
Finally comes the presentation of the report in which you submit it to an evaluator.
- It should be printed single-sided on an A4 size paper. double side printing looks chaotic and messy.
- Margins should be equal throughout the report.
- You can use single staples on the left side for binding or use binders if the report is long.
AND VOILA! You’re done.
…and don’t worry, if the above process seems like too much for you, Bit.ai is here to help.
Bit.ai: The Ultimate Tool for Writing Technical Reports
Bit.ai is a modern cloud-technology based tool that makes document collaboration and workspace activities a little easier, a lot more fun, and visually appealing!
What if we tell you that the entire structure of a technical report explained in this article is already done and designed for you!
Yes, you read that right.
With Bit.ai’s 70+ templates, all you have to do is insert your text in a pre-formatted document that has been designed to appeal to the creative nerve of the reader.
Bit has a minimal design aesthetic that makes every element pop and makes your report stand out! From margins to numbering, fonts, and design, everything is taken care of in the templates.
You can even add collaborators who can proofread or edit your work in real-time. You can also highlight text, @mention collaborators, and make comments!
Wait, there’s more! When you send your document to the evaluators, you can even trace who read it, how much time they spent on it, and more.
Exciting, isn’t it?
Start making your fabulous technical report with Bit.ai today!
A well structured and designed report adds credibility to your research work. You can rely on bit.ai for that part.
However, the content is still yours so remember to make it worth it.
After finishing up your report, ask yourself:
Does the abstract summarize the objectives and methods employed in the paper?
Are the objective questions answered in your conclusion?
What are the implications of the findings and how is your work making a change in the way that particular topic is read and conceived?
If you find logical answers to these, then you have done a good job!
Remember, writing isn’t an overnight process. ideas won’t just arrive. Give yourself space and time for inspiration to strike and then write it down. Good writing has no shortcuts, it takes practice.
But at least now that you’ve bit.ai in the back of your pocket, you don’t have to worry about the design and formatting!
Have you written any technical reports before? If yes, what tools did you use? Do let us know by tweeting us @bit_docs.
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