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Mechanical Engineering Techniques An Introduction to Technical Report Writing.

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Mechanical Engineering Techniques An Introduction to Technical Report Writing.

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1 Mechanical Engineering Techniques An Introduction to Technical Report Writing

2 Objectives You need to be able to: Know differences between academic and technical writing. Identify the characteristics of effective technical writing. Identify the steps in the writing process. Identify the components of good design. Identify the steps in organizing and writing instructions. Identify some tips to help your documents.

3 Academic vs. Technical Writing Purpose: Knowledge of Topic: Audience: Criteria for Evaluation: Academic Demonstrate what you know about a topic Less than teacher who is evaluating them Teacher Depth, logic, clarity, unity and grammar Technical Getting something done More than the reader Several People Clear and simple organization of ideas

4 What is Technical Writing? Technical writing is the art, craft, practice, or problem of translating that which is logical into that which is grammatical. Technical writing forms a bridge between the logical (the primarily binary concepts understood by computers, robots, lawyers) and the illogical (the haphazard, inconsistent concepts misunderstood carbon-based life forms, highly intelligent computers, lawyers) via the medium of the grammatical, the haphazardly logical system incomprehensible to both. The practice of technical writing presupposes that you, the illogical, actually want to learn about the logical subject, which of course is in all cases false. This basis in a false presupposition makes technical writing a pursuit typically favored by those with arts degrees from obscure universities. -Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (The Movie and Book by Douglas Adams)

5 What is Technical Writing (really)? Technical writing conveys specific information about a technical subject to a specific audience for a specific purpose…The words and graphics of technical writing are meant to be practical: that is, to communicate a body of factual information that will help an audience understand a subject or carry out a task. - Michael H. Markel Director of Technical Communication, Boise State University

6 Types of Technical Reports/Communication Examples are: Annual Report Books Computer Hardware Guides Magazines Newsletters Organizational Manuals Scholarly Articles/Journals Software Guides Technical Reports

7 Characteristics of Effective Technical Writing The four Cs: Clarity -- it is easily understood by your intended audience Comprehensiveness -- all of the necessary information is present Conciseness -- it is clear without excess verbiage Correctness -- it is grammatical and follows conventions

8 Theory of Design Good design is: 1.Visually simple and uncluttered. 2.Highlights structure, hierarchy, and order. 3.Helps readers find information they need.

9 Writing Write positive language. Dont use: Access to student information is not authorized for any parties except Enrollment Services. Employees who have access to student information are not allowed to share that information with non- affiliated third parties if you have not authorized it. Do use: Access to student information is authorized only for Enrollment Services purposes. Employees who have access to student information are required to protect and keep it confidential. Dont write in upper case for more than A WORD OR TWO.

10 Writing (cont.) Use lists whenever possible. Use the title to define the task. Use headings and subheadings. Label segments in away that reflects how readers are likely to think about the operation or procedure. Dont use: Components Do use: How to Check the Components

11 Writing (cont.) Provide only one way to do something within a step. Be precise with your instructions. Use warnings. Write a conclusion. Example:Congratulations! Youve just created your first document! Dont annoy the reader.

12 Chunk your information. Keep your paragraphs short. Less is better. Control the text width by using columns. Writing

13 The Written Report: Why? You waste your time unless you can communicate what you have been doing with it. The medium for most technical communication is the written report, so you had better be good at it!

14 Some characteristics of reports 1.Everybody hates to write them, 2.Everybody hates to read them, 3.Almost nobody does read them, 4.They take a HUGE amount of time to write, 5.They are absolutely CRUCIAL to YOUR success in engineering!

15 Further characteristics of reports They are also almost always: 6.Too long, 7.Badly organized, 8.Incomplete.

16 Where to find materials to write the report? Examples are: Documents related to the project / work currently being done Google, Bing, Yahoo Google hacks/scripts (filetype, intitle, inurl, site) Journals (ex:,, RSS readers – ( Newsgroup (Google Groups, Yahoogroups) Filesharing –,, Social site – Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, etc. Reference, bibliography – Free Ebooks – - 20-best-websites-to-download-free-e- books. – Research Papers and Essays

17 Basic Technical Overview Professionalism and ethics in reporting Knowing your audience Outline writing Report writing (rigid structure)

18 Professionalism & ethics in reporting Different individuals have different personalities, and different modes for communicating. If you apply a canned formula to your technical communications, the result may be awkward. Within the general structure of formal technical communication, there is room for your personality to show through.

19 Knowing Your Audience At the very beginning… think about your likely audience. The word selection, level of motivation, and background required for a report (or a presentation) depends greatly on the background of the audience.

20 Outline Your Writing Purpose Why am I presenting this work? What do I want the audience to get out of this paper or this presentation? Hint: formulate one or two simple "take-home messages" that you will try to impart to your audience.

21 Write the Report, but how long? The length of your presentation - either written or oral - is often dictated by others. With respect to oral presentations, you will often find yourself up against a strict time limit: Be sure that you can get your take-home message across without hurrying Hint: carefully rehearse your talk with a stop- watch in hand…

22 Common Report Formats There are a number of accepted formats for any type of document that you write, but… The commonly accepted standard for engineering reports is IMRaD - Introduction - Methods - Results - and Discussion. Note: Your reports do not necessarily need to follow this format strictly, but should use this as a guideline, and contain all of the information discussed in the following paragraphs.

23 Format Example Please refer to uploaded documents at 1. How to Write a Technical Report from Alan Smithee - A format using single column.pdf 2. Template from IEEE for writing a Proceeding Manuscript - 2 columns.doc 3. Guide to a Journal Writing Format from MUST - 2 columns.doc 4. A sample of how to use MS Word to submit a Technical Report to a lecturer.doc 5. A Detail Articles on how to write a Technical Report.doc

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