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Engineering Reports

1. Introduction

An engineering report presents to the reader an engineering problem and the engineering analysis and judgment that concludes in a proposed engineering design or recommendation to that given engineering problem. We will look at the objective of your report, the structure of a general engineering report as a whole followed by examining the structure of both engineering analysis and design reports. Finally, we will look at how the contents of the report body.

Please note, this is a work in progress and is not complete.

2. An Objective

Every engineering report serves a purpose. It is always a good idea to summarize the purpose the the report in a single objective statement: What is the report attempting to accomplish or demonstrate? What should the reader have an understanding of having read the report? In some cases, larger reports may have secondary objectives. You may even consider the Professional Engineers Act (Ontario): this document gives the primary objective of Professional Engineers Ontario as well as listing five additional objectives (although, in this case, the fifth objective is slightly more open-ended than what one would hope to see in a technical report). With an objective statement, it is now always possible "How does this help the reader understand the engineering problem and my solution?" Given any item in the report, be it a section, a figure, or a table, if you cannot justify through a causal chain by which that item will help you achieve your objective, you should really question whether or not that item should even appear in the report.

For example, raw data will never helps the reader understand anything—it is the analysis of that data through the use of statistics that will help the reader. A graph of points may present information to the reader, but it is the analysis of that data that will inform the reader and support your objective. This may be, for example, through a best-fitting line that describes whether the data is increasing linearly, quadratically, or exponentially. Tabulated raw data should either be cited or relegated to appendices with appropriate references and statistical analysis. Graphical data should be augmented with models that describe that data together with the appropriate statistical analysis.

2. Structure of the Report

Over the years, a standard format for presenting an engineering report has emerged. This serves two purposes: first, the reader becomes familiar with the format and will understand where he or she needs to look to find the relevant information, and second, it helps the author, as a first step, to ensure that he or she has at least covered all steps.

The format that is presented here is quite thorough. Some of you will have co-op jobs where the company has significantly more lax standards for internal reports, and in any organization, it is your responsibility to adapt to the local culture. In other cases, usually consulting engineering firms who offer their services to the public through certificates of authorization, you will find that the significance of good form in reports becomes more critical: once a report is in the hands of the client, any errors or ambiguities will become legally liabilities. An example of a technical report that includes a number of the organizational divisions listed here is the NASA Space Handbook: Astronautics and Its Applications.

Think of the format as a familiar activity: If the glossary is always in the same place, the reader does not have to break his or her concentration to quickly move to the end of the report body to find it. An officer or manager always knows where he or she must look to find a non-technical summary of the information contained in the report. A technical reader will know to look at the start of the report body to find your background as well as requirements and criteria that were used in the determination of your recommendation. The format may not be ideal, but it is predictable; like the QWERTY keyboard: it is not an ideal layout but it is predictable and English-speaking persons who have visited other European countries will quickly realize the benefits of predictability (e.g., Germans swap the 'Y' and the 'Z' ).

The high-level structure is centered around the report body. The report body is preceded by front matter that introduces the report body and it is followed by back matter to which the reader will have to refer once he or she begins reading the report body. The contents and order of the items found in the front and back matter have been standardized:

  1. Front matter:
    1. a title page,
    2. a letter of transmittal,
    3. an abstract,
    4. contributions,
    5. an executive summary,
    6. a table of contents,
    7. a list of figures,
    8. a list of tables, and
    9. a list of equations;
  2. the report body; and
  3. back matter:
    1. a glossary,
    2. your references, and
    3. any appendices.

The following summarizes the purpose and high-level structure of each of these components of an engineering report.

Title Page
Gives the title, authors, and associated organization (institution, corporation, etc.) of the report. The title of the report should be descriptive but short.
Letter of Transmittal
A formal business letter addressed to the intended recipient of the report. It summarizes:
  • the authors, the organization to which the authors belong and their position within that organization,
  • the purpose of the report and an overview as to the circumstances surrounding the preparation of the report,
  • any other pertinent details that the authors feel must be immediately drawn to the attention of the recipient, and
  • any acknowledgments that the authors would like to make.
A brief summary of the report which has the peers of the author as the intended audience. It should state the background, engineering problem, and recommendation with a technical reader in mind. The abstract should be 100 to 150 words in length. When writing the abstract, you should consider why your colleague or peer would need to obtain the analysis and recommendations in the report.
UW ECE Students: The work-term report guidelines omits the abstract.
The contributions section may be used to acknowledge contributions that individuals have made to the preparation of this report. For example, the contributions would normally give the name of the primary author followed by a list of contributors, any consultants who were who provided input to the work, and editors who reviewed the content before release.
UW ECE Students: The work-term report guidelines uses this section to have you describe your team, your team's goals, your tasks, the relationship between the job and your report, and how the report is relevant to the organization for whom you wrote it.
Executive Summary
The executive summary provides an overview of the report with a non-technical audience in mind; specifically, the management and officers of the organization commissioning the report. The executive summary will be a condensed Reader's Digest version of the report which excluding technical details and references, where:
  • the background is summarized as terms of placement within the organization,
  • requirements and criteria are summarized specifically in terms of non-technical metrics such as costs,
  • the conclusions of the quantitative analysis will be highlighted and summarized in qualitative terms through relative percentages, and
  • the recommendations are highlighted and summarized in such a way that they could form an actionable item on the report.
It is recommended that the executive summary is approximately 5 & to 10 % the length of the report body.
When you write the executive summary, put yourself in the shoes of an intelligent manager or executive and assume that your bonus depends on how he or she receives this report. What do you want that manager or executive to comprehend and conclude from the report?
UW ECE Students: This section is given the title "Summary" in your work-term report guidelines.
Table of Contents
A table containing all sections and subsections of the report with the exception of the title page, the letter of transmittal, and the table of contents itself. LaTeX, Microsoft Word, and almost all other modern word processing software packages have built-in mechanisms for automatically generating a table of contents.
List of Figures
A list of the figures by their unique identifying number, caption, and page number in the order in which they appear in the report. Captions that span multiple lines may be abbreviated. Any citations in the captions should be removed. LaTeX, Microsoft Word, and almost all other modern word processing software packages have built-in mechanisms for automatically generating list of figures.
List of Tables
A list of the tables by their unique identifying number, caption, and page number in the order in which they appear in the report. Captions that span multiple lines may be abbreviated. Any citations in the captions should be removed. LaTeX, Microsoft Word, and almost all other modern word processing software packages have built-in mechanisms for automatically generating list of tables.
List of Equations
A list of equations would normally only be added if you as the author understand that the majority of readers will need to quickly refer to the equations that are provided in the report body.
UW ECE Students: This list is not to be included in your work-term reports.
Report Body
The main component of the report that provides an introduction, background, the engineering problem, requirements, metrics, criteria, analysis, and a summary. Upon having read the report body, the technical reader should understand the engineering problem and have confidence in the soundness your design or recommendations by the engineering judgment and analysis that is presented. The audience of the report body varies, but it will usually be directed at a colleague or peer.
Any abbreviations, initialisms, acronyms, and special technical terms used within the report should be summarized in the glossary. Within the report, the first time an abbreviation, initialisms, or acronym is used, it should be written out in full with the shorter form appearing immediately after it in parenthesis. Abbreviations, initialisms, and acronyms that need be neither written in full nor included in the glossary are those that are not relevant to the technical aspects of the report and would be known to a reader of the executive summary. For example, in a report not focusing on computer communication, it would not be necessary to expand USB.
References are any textbooks, papers, or other external sources that were used in the preparation of the report and are necessary for a proper understanding of the report material. Whenever material is used from a reference, it should be cited within the report body. As all recorded knowledge is based on the prior work of others, any fact or idea that is not the work of the author must be cited with the exception of common knowledge or specialized knowledge that the report readers are known to possess. A good definition of common knowledge is anything taught up to the end of high school in any subject in general and anything taught in an undergraduate program for the subject area directly related to the object of the report.
Any unsummarized information that is either necessary or useful for the full comprehension of the report that cannot be easily cited should appear in an appendix. This definitely includes data that was collected specifically for the preparation of the report, but it can also include, for example, a data sheet corresponding to an item described or used in the report. In the latter case, such an appendix would only be necessary if you are certain that the reader will likely refer to that information in order to confirm the reported citations in the report itself. Analysis directly supporting the objective of the report must appear in the report body; however, an appendix could contain secondary analysis. For example, the report body may describe the analyzed data in terms of a best-fitting curve together with error bounds; the appendix could provide the data and give further statistical analysis that is not necessary for but supports the statistical description found in the report body.

Each appendix should be independent of other appendices, each providing additional information relevant to the report but in such a way that any one appendix could be extracted from the report and still be a coherent presentation of information. Thus, an appendix will not need formal structure with an introduction and conclusion, but it will need a descriptive sentence or paragraph at the start that summarizes the data that is presented and perhaps describes its significance.

We will now focus on the structure of the report body.

4. Structure of Report Body Subdivisions

The report body contains the will divided into sections and each of these sections will have further structure. A section may, in some cases, be just a single paragraph, or it may be few paragraphs in length, or it may be further subdivided into sub-sections. These subsections can also take on similar structures. In each case, a section, sub-section, or any further subdivision will be given a unique identifying number and in each case, it should be possible to extract any subdivision and that subdivision should be, though perhaps without context, a coherent unit.

Consequently, the structure of a subdivision will always be as follows:

  • Transition and introduction,
  • Subdivision body, and
  • Summary and transition.

Thus, we have the following possibilities:

Single Paragraph Subdivision
In this case, the first sentence will introduce the purpose of the paragraph while the last sentence will summarize any conclusions of the paragraph. Transitions from the previous paragraph and to the next paragraph may not be necessary.
Multiple-paragraph Subdivisions
The first paragraph will transition from the previous subdivision of weight and introduce the purpose of the subdivision together with a summary of the structure of the following paragraphs. The last paragraph will summarize any conclusions that can be drawn from the intermediate paragraphs and transition to the next subdivision.
Further Subdivided Subdivisions
If a subdivision has further subdivisions, the introduction and transition will be stated before the first further subdivision. The last further subdivision will always be the conclusions to this section.

Transitions are always worded in such a way to refer to the previous or next subdivision at the same level. Thus, the introductory paragraphs of Section 2 would transition from the summary of Section 1 and it would describe the structure of subsections 2.1, 2.2, ..., 2.n − 1. Section 2.n would summarize the previous n − 1 subsections and give a transition to Section 3. If a section is broken into paragraphs, there must be at least one phrase or sentence that refers to that paragraph within both the introduction and summary paragraphs. If a section is broken into further subdivisions, there must be at least one phrase or sentence that refers to each subdivision both in the introductory paragraphs and in the last summarizing subdivision.

Related to subdivisions are numbered lists. As with subsections, a numbered list must always be preceded by sentences that introduce the list (usually indicating the significance) and succeeded by sentences that summarize the list (usually providing the usage). Within an engineering report, the author ever expects the reader to refer to a list within the report, it must always be presented as a numbered list for easy retrieval. "The components within the system include a u, a v, three w, two x, a y, and four z. The total cost of these components is $10,235." should, more likely, be given as "The components within the system include

  1. a u,
  2. a v,
  3. three w,
  4. two x,
  5. a y, and
  6. four z.

The total cost of these components is $10,235.". The reader will note that if the numbering and line spacing is removed, the original in-sentence list is restored. If the items being listed include compound sentences that themselves include commas, the list items should be terminated by semicolons. For example, "The requirements of the system include

  1. a cost of less than $10,000;
  2. sufficient user-friendliness for a business environment;
  3. satisfying the ISO 1000, 1001, and 1002 standards; and
  4. ready by next Thursday.

The next four sections of this report examine how each of these requirements will be satisfied." Again, you will note that if the the numbers and line spacings are removed, we get a correctly formed sentence. If the items being numbered are sentences or paragraphs, the list is likely to be preceded by a colon. For example, "The requirements of the system are:

  1. The cost must be less than $10,000.
  2. The interface must be appropriate for a business environment staffed by non-technical employees.
  3. The system must satisfy the following ISO standards: 1000, 1001, and 1002.
  4. The system must be completed by next Thursday.

The next four sections of this report examine how each of these requirements will be satisfied."

Similarly, if a list has a sub-list, the outer list should be separated by semicolons. For example, from Ontario Regulation 941, we have "Experience acquired outside Canada satisfies the requirements of paragraph 4 of subsection (1) if

  1. it is obtained while the applicant is
    1. employed by an employer whose head office is located in Canada, and
    2. supervised by one or more persons who are legally authorized to engage in the practice of professional engineering in a Canadian jurisdiction; and
  2. in the Council's opinion, the experience provides the applicant with
    1. the necessary practical skill for the practice of professional engineering, and
    2. sufficient familiarity with the applicable Canadian codes, regulations and standards for the practice of professional engineering."

As this numbered list appears in a legal document, it a reference and therefore the list does not contain a concluding sentence or paragraph. An engineering report, however, will ultimately use the information that appears in the list and thus some explanation of that use must be given.

Now that we have discussed subdivisions, the next question is what should be subdivided? Should every paragraph be incorporated into a uniquely identified subsection? The answer is clearly no. Given a section with n paragraphs, if each of the paragraphs are independent of each other, further subdivisions will likely not be necessary. If, however, you start to have sections that have ten or more paragraphs, all of which are independent, you may consider trying to determine what is it that you are trying to say. Try describing the purpose of this section and each of its paragraphs to a friend and you will likely find that your monolithic section does not actually achieve the purpose you intend it to serve. Alternatively, if the paragraphs can be grouped into logical subdivisions, then do so. This will require a few additional introductory and concluding paragraphs, but this will aid the reader even if it is extra work for you.

The most subtle question is when should a single paragraph be given a uniquely identified subdivision? In general, if a paragraph results in a conclusion that is drawn in the conclusions section, it should likely be uniquely identified. For example, for each conclusion, you should be able to say "This conclusion is drawn from the analysis in Section 3.7.2." You do not want to have to say "This conclusion is drawn from the second paragraph of Section 3.7."

We will finish with by considering the structure of the four sections of the report body that we have already specified:

For most undergraduate-level reports, the introduction will most likely be a single section with a number of paragraphs. Breaking the introduction into sections would only be necessary for longer reports where three or four paragraphs are required to describe each of the context, the background, and the structure of the subsequent report body.
The Engineering Problem
It is likely that this section will contain and introduction followed by a description of the engineering problem, the listing of the requirements and associated analysis, the listing of the criteria and associated analysis, and a summary. This four subsections would be number 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4, respectively.
As we have already previously described, the conclusions should be based around the requirements, possible solutions, or the testing methodologies used. At the undergraduate level, each of these should be no more than one paragraph and therefore further subdivision will not be necessary. Consequently, the conclusions would have a short introductory paragraph and should be followed by a short summary paragraph.
If there is a single actionable recommendation, the recommendations section can be a single paragraph with an introductory sentence and followed by a summary sentence. If there is to be more than one recommendation, there should likely be an introductory paragraph of two or three sentences followed by one paragraph for recommendation. This would be followed by a final summarizing paragraph.

Thus, we have discussed appropriate subdivisions of the report body. In general, any subdivision should have an appropriate or implied introduction and summary. We will continue by looking at a more in-depth structure of an engineering analysis report followed by an engineering design report.

5. Structure of an Engineering Analysis Report Body

At the top level, the report body is divided into numbered sections. This gives structure to the report and also allows the reader to refer to a unique section identifier. We will look at the overall structure and then proceed by by looking at format of the individual sections.

5.1 The Report Body Framework

The report body will be anchored by four sections: it will begin with an introduction and a description of the engineering problem and it will finish with conclusions and recommendations. The contents of the report body should appear as follows:

        1. Introduction
        2. The Engineering Problem
        n − 1. Conclusions
        n. Recommendations

We will proceed by looking at the content of the introduction, the description of the engineering problem, the conclusions, and the recommendations.

5.2 The Introduction

The first is the introduction which sets the context and describes the format of the balance of the report body. This will usually include:

  • The background of the report, usually including descriptions of
    • the organization,
    • the final product being developed of which this is a component,
    • a brief overview of the technical scope, and
    • the specific component or project for which this report is prepared;
  • A brief one-sentence summary of the engineering problem; and
  • A brief overview of the structure of the balance of the report.

The introduction does not include any new information; it is simply an outline for the reader that gives the reader context. It is not necessary to be unnecessarily verbose; for example,

The report continues by listing the requirements and reducing these to a number of criteria, the possible alternatives will be listed, followed by a description of the testing setup and the methodologies that will be used. The results of the analysis are presented, concluded, followed by the recommendations.

It is usually unnecessary to make such verbose statements as "in Section 3, we will..."

Having given the background, context, and outline of the report in the introduction, the next step is to describe the engineering problem at hand together with the requirements, criteria, and associated analysis.

5.3 The Description of the Engineering Problem

This second section will describe in detail the engineering problem. This is followed by the associated requirements as specified by the client. It is necessary to indicate which requirements are hard (must be satisfied) and soft (can be satisfied). Soft requirements can often be used to differentiate between multiple solutions, all of which satisfy the hard requirements.

If the author of the report is also required to prepare the requirements, it would also be necessary to give an analysis of the requirements indicating why they are being included. With this, it is also necessary to indicate why other requirements which may casually appear obvious or necessary are explicitly being excluded. The analysis of the requirements is necessary, as a reader who disagrees with the your requirements will therefore dismiss the balance of the report.

As a courtesy to the reader, it is necessary to list a summary of the requirements in a numbered list from the most important to the least important. By doing so, the reader who is quickly flipping through the report will be able to easily find the requirements.

The next step will be to convert each requirement into one or more criteria that can be quantitatively measured. In each case, this will require analysis on your part to justify your choices. In each case, you will have to identify the metric that is being used to evaluate each criterion and the minimal targets for each criterion associated with a hard requirement.

The form of the subsequent sections is less rigid and therefore we will pass over these for now and jump to a description of the conclusions and recommendations.

5.4 Conclusions

Having described the possible solutions, the testing environment and methodologies, and the subsequent analysis, it is necessary to summarize the analysis in the form of conclusions. The order in which the conclusions are listed can be varied and they can be organized around

  • the requirements,
  • the possible solutions, or
  • the testing methodologies used.

Where possible, conclusions should be summarized in tables or graphs.

For each conclusion that is presented, it should always be possible to prefix the solution by the statement From the analysis in the report body, it is concluded that .... If you cannot point to a section in the report from which a conclusion can be derived, that conclusion does not belong in this section. If you are deriving conclusions are not based on the requirements and criteria, it might be useful to revisit and perhaps revise that section of the report. For your first engineering analysis report, it is often useful to explicitly place this sentence in front of each conclusion to remind you of this requirement.

Once all the relevant conclusions have been drawn from the report, it is now time to give your recommendations.

5.5 Recommendations

The final section of any engineering analysis report are your recommendations. You have presented the reader with a situation and an engineering problem, the requirements and criteria have been listed, the possible solutions have been enumerated, the testing environment and methodologies have been derived, the analysis performed, and the conclusions of those have been listed. It is now time to give your recommended solution. Recommendations are always presented as actionable items. As such, a recommendation will always be a descriptive sentence indicating what the client should do. Tables and graphs present data, you are now recommending an action.

As with the conclusions, it should always be possible to prefix each recommendation with the statement Based on the analysis and conclusions in this report, it is recommended that .... If you cannot point to the conclusions that support your recommendation, either the recommendation is superfluous to the report or perhaps you should return to your requirements and criteria and determine whether or not these need to be revised.

Examples of recommendations that are almost always extraneous include:

  • It is recommended that the company continue to invest in these technologies.
  • It is recommended that future employees review this report when joining this group.

It is unlikely that any engineering analysis performed in the report body or any conclusions derived therefrom will be able to form the basis for such recommendations.

5.6 Summary of the Engineering Analysis Reports

We have described the high-level structure of the report body. The report body is begun with an introduction that gives the context by summarizing the background and engineering problem and this is followed by a detailed description of the engineering problem together with the requirements, criteria, and the associated analysis. The report body finishes with a list of conclusions that are drawn from the analysis in the report body and recommendations that may be based on the conclusions and analysis within the report body. The next step is to describe the grammatical structure of each section.

6. Structure of an Engineering Design Report Body

To be completed.

7. The Contents of the Report Body

The previous sections have describe how various engineering reports are structured. We will now look at the contents of those sections by considering the use of English vocabulary, grammar, figures, tables, equations, and rhetoric.

7.1 Use of English Vocabulary

This section must be structured. For now, it is presented as a list of observations.

Engineering reports are formal documents and therefore, by convention, should not use contractions; for example, don't, can't.

Verbs may be described as being either passive or active. A passive verb asserts that the subject has a particular property or state; for example, "the computer is operating at 3 GHz" and "the project was terminated due to a lack of funding". An active verb describes a continued or progressive action on the part of the subject; "the computer operates at 3 GHz" and "insufficient funding terminated the project".

7.2 Use of English Grammar

This section must be structured. For now, it is presented as a list of observations.

In making relative comparisons, use fewer for items that can be counted and less for items that cannot.

Do not use double negatives.

The contraction of it is is it's its is the possessive form of it. For example, "The processor releases a significant amount of energy. Its temperature is maintained by a number of active and passive cooling systems."

Use commas with the coordinating conjunctions 'and', 'but', 'or', 'yet', 'for', 'nor', and 'so'; however, use a semi-colon with conjunctive adverbs; for example, 'accordingly', 'consequently', 'furthermore', 'however', 'in addition', 'moreover', 'never-the-less', 'otherwise', 'subsequently', and 'therefore'.

The interrogative pronoun 'who' represents the subject of an action that is being queried while 'whom' represents the object; for example, "Who is giving whom away at the wedding?", "Who gave you that?", and "To whom are you giving that?".

The pronoun 'I' indicates that the author is the subject while the pronoun 'me' indicates that the author is the object; for example, "You and I are going home." and "He gave you and me a gift.".

Prefer using decimal numbers in all cases over fractions unless significant information is lost in the translation.

'Good' is an adjective while 'well' is an adverb. For example, "He plays well while she is a good player." and "That is a good strategy but it will not go over well with the judges.".

Avoid gender-specific terminology. While this may initially be difficult as it might be quite common to use the terms such as manpower and man-made, human resources and synthetic, respectively, are just as descriptive.

In order to avoid using "he or she" and "his or her", the phrase can be replaced with a term such as "the user" or the sentence can either be restructured to be in the plural using "they" or "their".

'There', 'they're' and 'their' are all different: "They're determining their rights when they go over there."

In referring to monetary amounts, avoid using cents: $0.25 is preferable to 25¢.

In referring to percentages, for general low-precision percentages but for more precises percentages, use the % symbol and remember that it is a unit and there must be a space or a half-space between the value and the symbol; for example, "Ten percent of the population has, at some point, owned an iPod" and "Only 1.32 % of the units tested as defective in the past year.".

'Your' and 'you're' are also different: "You're worried about your car being left on the side of the road."

Use the American spelling except with the spelling appears in a proper name. For example, "The Centre in the Square" versus "Center the window on the screen." Even if the majority of the audience is Canadian or British, variations in spelling may be unnecessarily distraction for those for whom English is a second language.

Use plurals that are more common; for example, "formulas" is better than "formulae". When in doubt, use to find the most common usage. A word ending in "-us", "-a", and "-um" is pluralized using the Latin endings, "-i", "-ae", and "-a" if and only if the word has been absorbed into English from Latin.

"Phenomenon" and "criterion" are the the singular of "phenomena" and "criteria", respectively. "Datum" and "medium" are the singular of "data" and "media", respectively.

When writing a date, avoid ordinal numbers: January 1, 1970.

When indicating a month, do not include a comma: January 1970.

When indicating dates and times as a sequence of numbers, use the ISO 8601 standard which goes from the most significant to the least: 1970-01-01, 12:19:39, or, combining these, 1970-01-01T12:19:39.

'Affect' is a verb while 'effect' is a noun. For example, "The effect of the report was to affect the result of the competition." and "The effect of inserting a prism would affect the path of the light.".

Do not center text with spaces. Use the center alignment feature.

Use "a.m" and "p.m." instead of "A.M' and "P.M.". Any time that does not have the time modifier specifying the time relative to noon is assumed to be using 24-hour notation.

Dangling participles...

Information that is not critical to a sentence—that is, it can be removed without affecting the structure—should be separated out by parentheses, commas, or dashes. The punctuation emphasizes the relative weight of the parenthetical information to the balance of the sentence. Parentheses indicate less importance (for example, this is really not needed), commas indicate equal importance, while dashes indicate that the the parenthetical information is of greater significance. For example, "He moved the furniture, however slowly, to the other room." and "He smashed the car—my car—into the tree.".

'That' restricts what it describes while 'which' is nonrestrictive; consequently, any clause starting with 'which' should be parenthetical and should therefore be separated using a comma, parentheses, or a dash. For example, "My car that was in an accident last week is in the shop.", "My car, which was in an accident last week, is in the shop.", "My car (which is blue) is in the shop.", and "My car—which he smashed into—is in the shop." In the first example, the person may have two cars and here "that" restricts the discussion to that car that was in an accident. Without the phrase "that was in the accident last week" leave the subject ambiguous. In the second example, "which was in an accident last week" volunteers additional information about the car—in this case, indicating some reason as to why it is in the shop. In the third case, the phrase "which is blue" is information that is gratuitous and not critical to the sentence. In the fourth case, the "which he smashed into" is being emphasized by the writer.

Many writers will have been taught phrases that draw out the length of sentences or deliberately use obscure words (just here, I almost used the phrase "aloof terminology") in order to increase the perceived quality or level of the work. Avoid this at all cost—especially those phrases which may have been learned simply to draw out the length of sentences. For example, "as a matter of fact" can almost always be left out. Sentences such as "There are a number of factors affecting the process. These factors are ..." can be replaced by "The process is affected by the following factors: ..."

7.4 Use of Figures, Tables, and Equations

To be completed.

7.5 Summary

We have seen how to incorporate and make best use of English vocabulary, English grammar, figures, tables, and equations into engineering reports.

8. Conclusion

We have covered the structure of an engineering report, the general structure the report body, and looked at formats for engineering analysis and design reports. For each component, you will always note that it is both preceded by an appropriate and succeeded by an appropriate summary. This is true of the report as a whole where the report body is preceded by the front matter and succeeded by the back matter. The Executive Summary, the Report Body,

A. Other Sources