Technical reports

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Introduction

Technical reports typically have a specific purpose and a narrowly-defined readership. One of the main considerations is that amendments may need to be inserted (therefore consider page breaks on headings). May have a relatively long shelf-life (when compared to other types of communication, especially if there is a need to file them.

Suggested contents

Front matter (preliminary pages):

  • Cover letter (if not being hand-presented);
  • Cover - heavy card for long report; light card for short one ;
  • Title page - Title/subtitle, author/organization, audience/organization, date;
  • Table of Contents - Major sections/subsections. Differentiate levels of heading spatially and typographically;
  • List of tables/figures - Only if 5 or more;
  • List of appendices - Only of 5 or more, otherwise put in main Table of Contents;
  • Abstract (Executive Summary) - Summarize main points, findings or recommendations.

Body (Part 1):

  • Statement of purpose or problem ;
  • Summary or findings;
  • Recommendations;

Body (Part 2):

  • Background;
  • Researched information;
  • Approach, method and materials;
  • Possible solutions;
  • Results;
  • Discussion;
  • Interpretation;
  • Conclusions;
  • Recommendations.

Note:
Splitting a report in this manner allows the 'management' and decision makers to read the first part, and the researchers the second.

End matter:

  • Appendices;
  • Glossary of terms;
  • Footnotes;
  • References.
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