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Students discuss the findings of an experiment

Appendices

Any material that isn’t necessary to the body of the work, but which you think the reader may want access to, can be put into an appendix. You can have as many appendices as you need to contain all the supplementary information you wish to include.

These are usually differentiated with numbers, letters or roman numerals, for example:

“The standard operating procedure for the MCX23 Hyperdrive can be found in Appendix C”

or

“Details of the mathematical process are located in Appendix III”

As an author of technical engineering reports, you are constantly striving to find a balance between including enough detail, so that the information can be understood and scrutinised, and maintaining focus, with concise writing and elimination of superfluous content.

The appendices can be used to overcome this seemly intractable tension. If you are unsure if details need to be included, then they probably don’t, but you can put them in an appendix to make sure.

Here are some common uses for appendices in technical engineering reports:

  • Equipment details: The reader of a report should be able to replicate your work to validate that your results are correct. If you are using a particular piece of equipment, details such as the model number, the calibration or the setup procedure might not be relevant to the concepts in the main body of the report, but would be necessary to replicate the work.

  • Raw data: When you do experiments, you often collect a great deal of raw data. The raw data is then processed and presented in a way that demonstrates a point or concept to the reader in the Results section. Including the raw data in an appendix allows the reader to validate that the processing has been done correctly and perhaps interpret the data differently with a different processing method.

  • Processing: The steps used, possibly mathematical ones, to take raw data might be complex and the complexity not directly relevant to the reader. For the purposes of validation, the methods used to process data into results could also be included in an appendix.

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This article is from the free online course:

Technical Report Writing for Engineers

The University of Sheffield

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