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A Guide to Writing as an Engineer, 4th Edition by David A. McMurrey, David F. Beer

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6

WRITING RESEARCH AND DESIGN REPORTS

Reports are perhaps the most common documents that you will write both as engineering students and as engineers. Consequently, your success—both in school and in the workplace—will partly depend on your ability to produce effective reports.

Susan Stevenson and Steve Whitmore, Strategies for Engineering Communication (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002).

This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.

Winston Churchill.

This chapter covers two important engineering report types: the information type, called here the engineering report, and the engineering design report. This chapter ends with format and style issues relevant to both types of reports.

ENGINEERING RESEARCH REPORTS

Engineers often get involved in projects that include writing reports. Engineering reports have specifications just like any other kind of project. Specifications for reports involve layout, organization and content, format of headings and lists, design of the graphics, and so on. In fact, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published specifications for engineering reports entitled Scientific and Technical Reports: Organization, Preparation, and Production.

The advantage of a required structure and format for reports is that you or anyone else can expect them to be designed in a familiar way—you know what to look for and where to look for it. Reports are usually read in a hurry—people are in a hurry to get to the information ...

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