Short Reports: How To Write Routine Technical Documents

Jerz > Writing > Technical > Short Reports [ 1 | 23 ]

A business memo, a lab report, or a professional e-mail are all variations on the basic report structure described in this document. Feel free to modify these guidelines in order to meet your reader’s needs.

  1. Think of Your Reader First
    Your busy reader has a problem, and has turned to your report for help. What, exactly, does your reader want? Deliver it as efficiently as possible.
  2. Begin with Your Conclusions
    A technical document is not a mystery novel. Don’t save your best points for the end, because most readers are too impatient to wait.
  3. Organize with Appropriate Headings
    For any document longer than a page or two, break the content into sections (like introduction, background, discussion, and conclusion).

Paragraphs Aren’t Always Helpful in Tech Writing

Your English literature teachers probably taught you to value topic sentences, conclusions, and well-crafted transitions that pull the reader along to the next point. 

If you are writing an after-dinner speech, or crafting a mission statement to drive a fund-raising campaign, then of course it makes sense to entertain and engage the reader with surprise plot twists and a big finish.

But in the working world, most busy readers won’t slow down to savor your storytelling.

What does your reader want? 

Next: Think of Your Reader First

Technical Writing > Short Reports [ 1 | 2 | 3 ]

Dennis G. Jerz
25 Oct 2001 — rough draft first posted
10 Nov 2001 — last modified
09 Jan 2004 — minor edits
23 Aug 2012 — reformatting
12 Mar 2022 — tightened intro


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6 thoughts on “Short Reports: How To Write Routine Technical Documents

  1. Pingback: Short reports: audience, conclusions and headings | Workplace Writing

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