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

Related Links
Jerz and Bauer
Writing Effective E-Mail: Top 10 Tips
To write effective, high-quality e-mails in today’s professional environment, write a meaningful subject line; keep the message short and readable; avoid attachments; identify yourself; and don’t flame. Common sense tips and examples.

Dennis G. Jerz
Oral Presentations: Delivering Technical Information Face-to-face
The content is the most obvious component of an oral presentation. But no matter how well-written, an oral presentation is only as effective as its delivery.

Dennis G. Jerz
Writing That Demonstrates Thinking Ability
Many writers have no trouble summarizing the content of a conversation or applying what they have just read, but they they freeze up when asked to critique or theorize.

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

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

  2. Pingback: Short Reports: How To Write Routine Technical Documents — Jerz's Literacy Weblog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *