The purpose of a technical report is to completely and clearly describe technical work, why it was done, results obtained and implications of those results. Following the guidelines provided in this document should lead to a well-written technical report that allows the reader to quickly understand what has been accomplished, regardless of the summative or formative nature of the work, and establishes the credibility of the work. The report also provides sufficient detail for the reader to appreciate how the results were collected and possibly recreate the results although the level of detail provided depends heavily on the report’s audience and any proprietary nature of the work. Although this document provides guidance for good lab report writing, chronicling work performed for a laboratory assignment as is done for the familiar academic lab report is not the same as producing a report on technical work. For example, technical reports commonly cite sources and include a bibliography often not expected in an academic lab report. However, these guidelines can be used in total to support formal technical report writing or referred to selectively depending on the type of report and level of formality required.
The key to a well-written report is organization. A report that is divided into several sections, occurring in a logical sequence, makes it easy for the reader to quickly obtain an overview of the contents as well as locate specific information. This document provides guidelines for producing a well-written technical report. The next section details what information to provide for the reader in each section of a report. That is followed by a description of how someone in the related technical industry, the likely reader of technical reports, typically peruses a report. This provides important context for recommended organization and content. Additionally, this document presents a list of questions authors should ask of themselves prior to final submission.