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Report Writing
The structure of technical reports

Examples of good and poor executive summaries or abstracts

A good example of a executive summary from a design/feasibility report

The operation of garden taps can pose a difficulty for many tap users. This report describes and evaluates the range of possible design solutions the design team has generated. A lack of commercially available solutions to the problem was identified and three alternative solutions were subsequently designed. Evaluation of the alternative solutions identified a tap handle extension, named ‘Easy Tap’, as the optimal solution to the problem. This tap handle extension consists of a channel-type attachment, onto which a vertical tube is joined, which in turn supports a larger handle that is over twice the length of the existing tap handle. 'Easy Tap' is able to slide onto the existing tap handle, its over-size handle providing a greater torque-moment for the user that overcomes the difficulty of operating the tap. A commercial evaluation suggests that ‘Easy Tap' will not only be a possible design solution to the problem but will also be a commercially viable solution to the problem. Background problem

Purpose of report

Brief details of the approach/method

Important results and/or findings

Major conclusion

A POOR example of a executive summary from a design/feasibility report

When camping in the wilderness, the night time often brings cold and wet conditions. Necessary tasks such as refueling the fire and answering vital ‘calls of nature’ become daunting since they require you to get out of a warm sleeping bag. If only there was some way of perform these tasks while staying inside your sleeping bag: now there is! This report considers the problem of keeping the camper warm while allowing them to perform necessary tasks. The problem is analysed in depth and alternative solutions are developed. This report proposes the optimal solution is a traditional sleeping bag with unconventional twists such as leg sleeves, removable boots and a fly zipper.The Sleepsuit’ is something new and exciting and should provide some interesting reading. Background problem
Sensationalist reporting: Inappropriate for a formal report
This report should analyse and evaluate not hard sell. Language is again inappropriate for a formal report
Statement of the design problem. This uses much more appropriate language & writing style.
Outlining what the report did BUT the executive summary also needs to report on the findings.
The reasons supporting this proposal should be outlined.
This a technical design report not a marketing campaign. Let your readers especially your marker make their own judgement about how interesting the report is to read.

A good example of a executive summary from a research/evaluation report

A total knee replacements is “an operation of replacing the function of a joint with an artificial material when function is lost by trauma or disease” (Ishikawa & Fujiki, 1996: 68). The replacement is achieved by removing the damaged articular surfaces and replacing them with prosthetic devices (or artificial elements) to supply new bearing surfaces. The object of this report is to outline in broad terms the information and engineering considerations required for and the principles involved in the design of prosthetic knee joints. The report is intended to provide the executive board with background information to assess the feasibility of a proposal they have been asked to assess concerning the design of a prosthetic knee joint. The knee is a synovial (freely movable) hinge joint and is particularly vulnerable to injury because of its exposed position and complicated structure. Maximal function of a prosthetic knee is achieved by simulating the natural conditions of the knee as closely as possible. Prosthetic knee designs should be evaluated on their mechanical properties. The main factors to be considered when evaluating the designs include accurate simulation of the normal knee joint mechanism, maximal bone retention and stability between prosthetic components and the bone. Although there are a large number of prosthetic knee joints already commercially available these tend to follow two different models: a hinge model and a sledge model. There is no range of knee prothesis catering for the problems caused by specific diseases of knee joints. Background problem

Purpose of report

The goal of the work reported on / the scientific or commercial objective

Brief details outlining the major findings of the report:
the knee
the engineering considerations of prosthetic knee design
assessment of the marketplace
identification of a commercial opportunity

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