Engineering students in a study space at The University of Sheffield

What's coming up?

You’ve already taken your first steps towards writing effective technical reports. In this week’s final article, we’ll explain what to expect over the coming weeks.

As we have seen this week, technical engineering reports are typically divided into a series of standard sections.

In each week of this course, we’ll take a different section of the report and find out the rules to follow when it comes to writing that section. These rules might seem stuffy and pedantic at first, but our aim is to show you why these rules exist and their benefits for both writers and readers. If you can see the benefits, you’ll be more likely to remember to use them!

Each week, we’ll also pick up on the key skills necessary for completing a section, for example, embedding equations in the Introduction or creating graphs in the Results. These skills will be introduced where they will be most relevant or most often required; however, you will often use these skills throughout a report.

  • In Week 2 we will focus on writing an introduction section. You’ll learn how to use an introduction to set the scene for the reader, how to describe theory and add equations into your report, and the basics of referencing and citation.

  • In Week 3 you’ll learn how to write a procedure or methods section. We’ll show you how to produce and embed useful engineering images into your report.

  • In Week 4 we’ll turn our attention to the results section. You’ll learn how to produce proper engineering graphs and tables (as well as how to avoid making common mistakes). You’ll also learn how to decide how much detail to include, what description is needed, and how to ensure that it integrates with the other sections.

  • Week 5 will teach you what goes into a discussion section and how to write one. You’ll learn how to differentiate between the discussion section and the conclusion or results.

  • In Week 6 we’ll learn how to put these sections together so that the document feels like a complete piece of work. We’ll discuss the material that you wrap around the main body of the report, such as an abstract at the start and appendices at the end, and how to apply consistent typesetting and layout to provide continuity for the reader.

To ensure a report communicates its contents effectively, the writer should always consider the perspective of the reader. So each week we’ll begin by asking “What will the reader get out of this section?”

At the end of the course, you’ll be rewarded with our Report Writing Checklist - a tool which you can use to write effective reports in the future.

For experienced engineers, the ability to produce a well-written technical report is second nature. By the time you complete this course, we hope you’ll have the confidence to consistently produce your own professional technical engineering reports.

Discussion

Which bit of the course are you most looking forward to? Which sections do you think will be the easiest and which the most challenging?

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This article is from the free online course:

Technical Report Writing for Engineers

The University of Sheffield