Lecture 1B - Technical Report Writing

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    Technical Report Writing Skills

    Gordon Wyeth

    Edited by: Donald Cook

    The University of

    Queensland

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    Why Bother Writing?

    The written word is the chief form of

    communication for engineering knowledge. Engineers do a lot of writing.

    Clear reports are essential to largeorganizations.

    Writing focuses the mind.

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    Effective Documents

    Have all the information.

    Show why, not just what. Have structure.

    Are concise.

    Are about the job at hand, not you. Are clearly referenced.

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    Steps for Writing

    1. Generate ideas.

    2. Organise your ideas.3. Write a quick draft.

    4. Revise.

    5. Revise.6. Revise.

    7. Revise.

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    Revision

    Comprehensiveness.

    Accuracy. Organization.

    Emphasis.

    Paragraphing. Style.

    Spelling and Grammar.

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    Structure

    Use informative headings.

    Use lists. Use introductions.

    Use conclusions.

    Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell

    them what you told them.

    Anon.

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    Paragraphs

    1. Begin with a clear topic sentence.

    2. Support the topic sentence logically.3. Emphasise the coherence of the paragraph.

    4. Keep paragraphs to a manageable length.

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    Example

    The RoboRoos are one of the longest serving teams in theRoboCup Small Size league. The robots competed at RoboCup98 [7] where they were runner-up, and in RoboCup '99 [8]

    where they were eliminated in the quarter finals, despite a 56-1goal difference during the round robin stage. In RoboCup 2000,the team was eliminated in the semi-finals after a 36 - 2 goaldifference in the round robin stage. The field robots haveremained mechanically and electronically the same through theyears of competition, with significant improvements being made

    through software revision. The goalkeeper has been re-designed several times over this period with the latest revisiondetailed in this description.

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    Sentences

    Beware passive voice.

    Use appropriate tense. Avoid compound sentences.

    Use modifiers meaningfully.

    Make parallel items parallel.

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    Passive Voice

    The cat sat on the mat.

    The mat is being sat on by the cat.

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    Tense

    The report was written in the past tense. It

    describes the project in all its details.

    The report was written in the past tense. Itdescribed the project in all its details.

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    Compound Sentences

    Our product uses the LM324 operational

    amplifier and it draws 50 mA operatingcurrent.

    Our product uses the LM324 operational

    amplifier. The LM324 draws 50 mA operatingcurrent.

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    Meaningful modifiers

    The very good amplifying circuit has a fairly

    large input impedance and not so muchoutput impedance.

    The amplifier has a high input impedance

    and a low output impedance.

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    The Right Word

    Choose simple, clear words and phrases.

    Replace fancy words with plain. Think about your audiences language.

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    Parallel Lists

    The circuit has two resistors, five capacitors,

    three transistors and an inductor. The circuit uses:

    two resistors,

    five capacitors,

    three transistors

    and an inductor.

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    Graphics

    Make the graphic self-sufficient.

    Do you really need a graphic? Choose the right kind of graphic.

    Place the graphic close to the text.

    Tie the text to the graphic.

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    Bad

    The RoboRoos system has a camera that is

    connected to a frame grabber in a PC thatdoes vision processing to work out where therobots are so that the radio can tell therobots where they are and where the ball is

    and where the opposition is.

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    Good

    Off-boardComputer

    FM Radio

    MAPS Comms

    Robot (x5)

    CommsNavigationModule

    RobotHW

    Overhead

    CameraVision

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    Page Design

    Leave adequate margins.

    Use appropriate line spacing. Use appropriate justification.

    Design titles and headings for emphasisand clarity.

    Design lists for clarity.

    Include page numbers on all pages.

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    Font Choice

    Use easy-to-read fonts.

    Use different members of a single typefamily.

    Use type sizes appropriately.

    Use uppercase and lowercase.

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    Crazy slide Hmmm, lets see how many fonts we can use of one

    page The more the merrier

    Im sure I can get another.

    One more just for fun.

    Note: clashing colours.

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    How to do well in your reports

    Make sure you fully read the report criteria.

    Report 1 results are usually fairly low, sincestudents tend to fill their report with non-relevantfluff. EXAMPLE....

    Use the report marksheet.

    Watch your formatting! You will instantly lose25% of your mark if you do not adhere to theformatting rules.

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    How to do well in your reports

    Show a draft of your report to a tutor.

    Students who show draft reports to the tutors tendto receive MUCH higher marks.

    Be honest in your reports!