Guidelines for writing Reports

An excerpt from work by R.F. Baker: The Preparation of Reports: Scientific, Engineering, Administrative, Business; New York, Roland Press Company; 1938 N.A.C.A. Technical Reports

In order to write reports in a uniform way, there are guidelines to be used as a guide for their preparation. Guidelines are comprehensive enough to form the skeleton of any report or thesis whether it is research, experimental, theoretical, development, master or any other. It is not necessary that all reports contain all of these elements, but it is advisable to present the material in this form. The scope and completeness of each report are set out by their purpose and the results achieved.

The study contains three main parts: summary, body and appendix.

The title page gives an overview about the content and the author (or the source of the information). It is read by 98% of those who come across this study.

The content provides an overview of topics and shows the nature of the main sections.

The greatest emphasis of the whole study is on the summary, which is read by 85% of those who look at the study. After reading the summary, the reader either lays the study aside, categorizes it and buries it in his/her library, or gets so much interested that carries out further investigation, or accepts the declared results as valid and will follow them in future analyses and decisions. It is important to keep in mind that many people are kept too busy by another important work to devote time to studying the report. The summary is intended mainly for these people and the whole study will therefore be judged only by the summary. Therefore, it is necessary that this summary shows how important it is and what thoroughly it was worked out. The best summary of the results shall be in a table or chart (carefully chosen) - one picture or drawing is worth a thousand words.

The body gives complete, relatively general explanation for understanding the methods, materials used and success achieved. It serves as a starting point when assessing the completeness and validity of the work performed. The body contains the final results, but all the details that represent the majority of the whole effort are included in the Appendix and thus separated from the general but comprehensive treatise. The text is then not overloaded by small details.

Appendix is an addition to the text and reveals the core of the problem. It contains calculations, especially their procedure and some details important to the completeness of the study.

Addendum provides new information for the previous, already completed, study. If the study has multiple sections, or contains a different, independent of each measurement, etc., the addendums 1, 2, 3, etc. must be divided into subsections. In case other test results are discussed, it is better to avoid adding addendums and issue a special treatise referring to an earlier study. You should also follow the same guidelines in the new treatise, but as for descriptions of methods etc., can be included reference to the earlier study. For this purpose serves the bibliography.

The results of the research, no matter how important and up to date, are useless if the researcher who achieved these results does not express them in a clear and complete way to those who are not in the know in a perfect form and grammatical aspects of the language.

These guidelines shall lead you, not torture you. However, all studies should preferably be uniform, not to require great preparations to study or apply them. According to these studies, most readers will assess the nature of the study.

Front page

  • Title, author, department, head of department, date of issue

Summary

  • Nature and results of the research (in tables, if possible). Various recommendations.

Content

  • Subject index
  • List of pictures and photographs
  • List of tables, diagrams, nomograms, photographs, etc.
  • List of appendixes
  • List of used signs

Introduction

  • Reason or cause to start writing the study
  • Subject, purpose and target
  • Importance, meaning and usefulness of the researches
  • Extent and limits of the study
  • Definitions: explanation of terms, list of symbols
  • History: overview of the procedure with reference to the sources

Equipment

  • Description of the object and information about it (if possible with photos)
  • Description of special test equipment or apparatus used in the research (if possible with photos)

Research procedure

  • Theory: short explanation of relevant principles or basic thesis and assumptions
  • Testing methods
  • Methods of control, correction and analysis of data
  • Results: their presentation and analysis, final results in tables or diagrams

Conclusion

  • Short and general enumeration of the collected data, the validity and evaluation of results (achieved success)
  • Suggestions and recommendations for next steps
  • List of used sources

Appendix

  • Derivation of the theory, theoretical considerations, formulas
  • Calculations and data tables
  • Figures and diagrams used in the analysis, nomograms
  • Calibrating instruments curves, auxiliary curves
  • Measurement records, edits and changes, time of tests, etc.