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Technical Writing

Dr. Murad Samhouri

Technical and Business Writing

Minutes of meeting
Guidelines for Good Business Writing
Eliminating Intermittent Noise From Writing
Writing A Report
Writing Business Letters, Memoranda, and Emails
Major Types of The On-The-Job-Writing
Internal Writing
The People Who Write

Technical and Business Writing

Who Writes What?
Writing A Managerial Report
Writing Proposals
Writing Common Documents
Constructing Tables and Graphics

Minutes of Meeting
How to record a useful minutes of meeting?
Meeting minutes are important. They capture the essentials
information of a meeting decisions and assigned actions
They keep attendees on track by reminding them of their role in a
project and clearly define what happened in a group session
Meeting minutes should not be an exact recording of everything
that happened during the session
Minutes are meant to record basic information such as actions
assigned and decisions made

Minutes of Meeting
Instructions that will help you take useful and concise meeting
Before the Meeting
Make sure you are not a major participant in the meeting. (You
cannot perform both tasks well!)
Create a template for recording your meeting minutes and make
sure you leave some blank space to record your notes.
Include the following information:
- Date and time of the meeting
- The purpose of the meeting
- The meeting lead or chairs name
- Assigned action items and decisions made

Minutes of Meeting
Gather as much information from the host as you can:
- Ask for a list of attendees.
- Ask for some information on the purpose of the meeting.
Design how you want to record our notes.
If you are not comfortable relying on your pen and notepad, use a
tape recorder.

Minutes of Meeting
During the Meeting
As people enter the room, check off their names on your attendees
Ask the meeting lead to introduce you to meeting attendees you
are not familiar with.
Minutes are meant to give an outline of what happened in the
meeting, not a record of who said what.
Focus on understanding what has been discussed and on recording
what has been assigned or decided on.
Record action items and decisions in your template as they happen.
Dont wait until after the meeting.
If you do not understand exactly what decision has been made, ask
the meeting lead to clarify.

Minutes of Meeting
After the Meeting
Review the notes and add additional comments.
Clarify what you did not understand right.
Do this while the information is fresh in everyones mind.
When you are writing out your notes, use some of the following tips
from the International Association of Administrative Professionals
- Number the pages as you go so you are not confused later.
Dont force yourself to write the minutes in the actual chronological
order of the discussion. It may not work.
- Focus on action items, not discussion.
- Be objective. Write in the same tense throughout and avoid
using peoples names except for motions and seconds

Minutes of Meeting
- Avoid inflammatory or personal observations. (Fewer
adjectives and adverbs)
- If you need to refer to other documents, attach them in an
appendix or indicate where they may be found.
When you finish typing the minutes, ask the meeting lead to review
the document for errors.
Send the final copy of the minutes to attendees right away. Keep a

Minutes of Meeting
Recording meeting minutes ensures that the decisions and
actions resulting from a meeting are not lost or forgotten.
By taking the time to record proper meeting notes, you will
make sure the time and effort that goes into a meeting is not

Guidelines for Good Writing

Our goal
Write efficiently and produce useful documents.
Guidelines used by successful writers:
1) Focus on why you are writing.
(What you want to communicate to your audience)
1. Inform

2. Request

3. Instruct

4. Propose

5. Recommend

6. Persuade

7. Record

Guidelines for Good Writing

2) Focus on your readers.
(A lot of writing falls because writers make inaccurate
assumptions regarding the people who read their
As a writer, you may write to:
1. Public

2. managers

3. lawyers

4. colleagues

5. people in other fields

6. CEOs

7. non specialist staff

(Your communication must bridge the gap between you and

your audience.)
Causes of this gap: Knowledge, ability, and interest

Guidelines for Good Writing

3) Satisfy document specifications.
(You should be aware pf any specifications your document
must meet.)
Brief memo or detailed?
A 10-page or 50-page proposal?
What specifications?
1. Length

2. Headings

3. Spacing

4. Margin width

5. Specific width

6. Font

Example: Request for proposal (RFP)

Each proposal shall consist of not more than five single spaced pages plus a
cover page, a budget page, and a summary page of no more than 300 words.
All text should be printed in single-column format on 8.5 X 11 inch paper.

Guidelines for Good Writing

4) Get to the point.
(Readers would much rather know your key points, complaints,
requests, conclusions, or recommendations before they read
supporting details.)


Subject: Employees safety

Subject: Need for employees to wear hard hats and safety
(Use summary or abstract in the long reports)

Guidelines for Good Writing

5) Use lists for some information.
(Readers retrieve some kinds of information from a list more
easily than from a passage)
When to use lists:
1. If you have to present steps in a procedure
2. Materials to be purchased
3. Items to be considered
4. Groceries to be bought
Types of lists:
1) Numbered: if there is order of importance
2) Checklists
3) Bulleted: if no specific order

Guidelines for Good Writing

6) Format your page carefully.
(People prefer print that is visually accessible and pleasing)
1. Margins: leave margins, I inch standard all around,
consistent on all pages
(if there is binding, increase left margin)
2. Type face: serif or sans serif (Times New Roman)
3. White space: margins
space between paragraphs: indentation
between text and graphics
before and after headings

Guidelines for Good Writing

7) Express yourself clearly.
1. Ambiguity: ambiguous: undecided: pronouns refer to more
than possible subject in a sentence


(Wrong): Before accepting materials from the new subcontractor, we

should make sure they meet our requirements
(Right): Before we accept them, we should make sure the materials
from the new subcontractor meet our requirements.

2. Vagueness: No useful meaning at all, not precise

(Wrong): The management group is several weeks behind schedule
(Right): The management group is five weeks behind schedule

Guidelines for Good Writing

3. Coherence: stick together: how will paragraphs and complete
documents stick together?
Each sentence clearly relates to the one before it and after it
(..sentence before) (connector) (..sentence after..)
Connector: Therefore, however, thus, but, in addition,
moreover, consequently, on the other hand.etc
4. Directness:
The most part of your message should come at the beginning
of your sentences and paragraphs
(If you cant make the case, no matter how good the information and
knowledge may be, you are not going to see your ideas reach fruition)

Guidelines for Good Writing

8) Use efficient wording.
1. Choose the simplest word whenever you can.
Never utilize utilize when you can use use
commence: start
initiate: begin
rendezvous: meet
terminate: end

2. Redundancy: Using words that say the same thing

Examples: The basic fundamental idea is to reconstruct our
Very best, sufficient enough, exactly identical

Guidelines for Good Writing

3. Turning verbs into nouns: Passive to active, noun to verb
(Wrong): An investigation of all possible sources of the problem was
(Right): All possible problem sources were investigated.

9) Manage your time efficiently.

1. Make a tough outline: whats involved and task division.
2. Establish a deadline for yourself, even if a deadline for
completing a report has not been imposed on you.
3. Draft a timeline. Show each date by which you should have
completed specific parts of the report. Allow enough time at
the end to review and edit.

Guidelines for Good Writing

Time line or Gantt chart
Report assigned

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

May 1

Collect data
1 Write draft
Draft 1 due

May 15

Design graphics
Write draft 2
Final edit
Report due

June 4

Guidelines for Good Writing

10) Edit at different levels.

Methodical approach:
1. Level 1: nitty-gritty level
(mechanics, spelling, punctuation, typos)
Use spell and grammar checker, and find a specialized friend
to edit.
2. Level 2: paragraph and sentence length and structure, precise
word choice: (verbiage, parallelism, coherency)
3. Level 3: check the overall format, organization, and
appearance: specifications, headings, lists, graphics, title
page is attractive, binding, covers, and quality of paper

Guidelines for Good Writing

11) Share the load: Write as a team.
Method I: Divide the length of the report by the number of
people involved, and get each to write his or her share. Then, the
report can be glued together.
Method II: Have one person organize the material, write the
entire draft, edit it, and pass the finished product on the next
member of the team. This person will add, delete, rearrange, and
re-edit. The third member will do the same. (Closer to perfect)
Method III: The best way is to assign each member to different
tasks according to that members strengths and interests.

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Where noise occur?
Spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and technical usage
By Shakespeare:
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
A nose by any outer dame wood small as sweat.
mailed or nailed
nuclear or unclear

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Use a spell checker.
Have a dictionary.
appendix and matrix (plural)
online or on-line
FORTRAN or Fortran or fortran
British Vs. American
past tense: input: inputted into or input into
Mouse: plural (mice) but in computer mouses

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Punctuation marks = traffic signs
They control the flow of meaning.
Commas: (,)
Before we arrived at the meeting we had already decided how to
(The tendency in technical writing is to omit unessential commas.)

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

When to use commas?
1) Use commas after introducing sentence.
2) Use serial commas when you list words or ideas.
Semicolon: (;)
1) If you use (however, therefore, namely, consequently, accordingly),
you should use semicolon before and comma after.
2) To separate series of short sentences: if there are internal
punctuation inside them.

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Colon: (:)

Separate hour and time: 3:30.

Divide parts of book or article titles.

Introduce an informal list.

Parentheses: ( )

To set off (facts) or (references) in your writing

Example: (See Figure 2.3)

(born in 1929)
(published in 1998)

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

If the sentence is incomplete, put a period outside the parentheses:
..MPa (a measure of force per unit area).
If the sentence in complete, put a period inside:
Potentials were computed (V1 is 2V, and V2 is 5V.) The next
2) Do not use parentheses frequently. This may cause distraction.
Dashes: (-)

To call attention to words set aside or after it

Avoid it in very formal writing.

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing




He was tall, hand-some, rich and stupid

Why we use dashes: emphasis, summary, and insertion
Hyphens: (-)

Do not hyphenate prefixes: pre-, re-, semi-, and sub-

Except: preexisting or pre-existing

ultraadaptable or ultra-adaptable
reengineering or re-engineering
Example: coop and co-op

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

2) Do not hyphenate compound words: -ly
Example: optimally achieved
highly appreciated
3) Use when to eliminate noise: computer-assisted, knowledge-based
4) With ranges of numbers: 31-34, $ 350-400
Exclamation points: (!)
Avoid it in professional writing, except for warning.
Example: DANGER: Sodium cyanide is extremely toxic!

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Quotation marks: ()
1) To set off direct quotation in your text
Put punctuation inside quotation
Example: The correct answer is 18.2 Joules he told me.
2) If long sentence is quoted



Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Sentence Style
To convey information to reader/listener precisely (noise elimination)

Connecting subjects to verbs

Subject/Verb singular/plural should be consistent

Example: Twelve ounces of adhesive (were or was) spilled

As one unit: is and was
As individuals: are and were
Either/or, Neither/nor : make is, was, are, were consistent
with the last noun
Example: Neither he, nor she was prepared for the exam

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Unclear pronouns: who, which, that, this, these, those, it

Example: The documents received from out suppliers were accurate,

they were within our standards


Example: The project was initiated as follows:

- Start by receiving quotations from vendors
- Studying the offers
- To decide on the best technical solution

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Fragments: Partial statements conveying incomplete information

We started our trip. The factory was so interesting. Gathering
information was so difficult. The manager told us to begin our
actual investigation. Some difficulties with the machines break
downs. The result was shocking

Active and passive voice: The natural form is active

Passive should be used to conceal responsibility
Passive should not be used in procedures or instructions


- Click on File
- Press Ok
-Open new document

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Gender language: Include everyone

he/she, his/her, him/her
Or you may use they, their, them
But try to be inclusive

Latin legacies
Never end a sentence with a preposition
Never split an infinitive: to go

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Transitions: Connect ideas

Distinguish conditions
Point out new directions

Examples: (Therefore, But, However, On the other hand, On the

contrary, Consequently, As a consequence, Although, Besides, In

Sentence length: Not more than 20 words (standard)

If too lengthy, divide them.
Also avoid too many short sentences.

Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing

Technical Usage

Jargon: pure noise in speech or writing

Not under stood by all
Not familiar to all
You be impressed but afraid to ask for a meaning
But, useful jargon: necessary technical terminology used in
specialized fields. You have to know your audience

Example: Learning curve overfitting


Eliminating Intermittent Noise In Writing


Example: computer-sided design/computer-aided manufacturing:

Do not use abbreviations your reader or listener does not understand.
1) Initialization: Taking the first letters: GPA, LED, NASA, ROM
2) Acronyms: bit, laser, pixel, radar, sonar

Use correct a/an: an MTCR, an LED OR a LED

Singular or plural: LEM/LEMs, CRP/CRPs

Writing a Report
Reports are the most common documents you will write.

Components of Reports:

Letter of Transmittal:
Cover letter
Standard business letter format
Has Memo format if internal

1. First paragraph: report name, italics, date of agreement

2. Middle paragraph: the purpose of the report and brief overview of
the contents

Writing a Report
Cover and Label
If the report is over 10 pages, it needs binding and cover and label.
- Covers:

Clear (or colored) plastic slip is unacceptable

(struggle to keep them open and has static
Bend down with punched holes could be accepted.
Use a plastic spiral for binding + card-stock paper for
the cover.

- Labels:

Without labels, reports get ignored.

Design it with word processor.
It includes: report title, your name, your
organization, tracking number and date.

Writing a Report
Page Numbering:
- All pages should be numbered except front and back covers.
- Use Arabic numerals throughout the document.
- Before introduction: use lowercase Roman numerals.
- No numbers are displayed on title page and first introduction
- Page numbers can be placed in one of several areas on the page,
with the bottom center as the best place.

Abstract and Executive Summary

- Abstracts summarize the contents of the report.

Writing a Report
Types of abstracts:
1. Descriptive abstract: overview of the purpose and contents of the
report (bottom of the title page)
2. Executive summary: summarizes the key facts and conclusions
contained in the report
- Length: 1/10 to 1/20 of the reports length (for 10 to 50 pagereport)
For longer reports: not more then 3 typewritten pages
(Something that can be read quickly)

Writing a Report
Table of Contents (TOC):
- What topics are covered in the report
- Subtopics
- On which page (page numbers)
Design decision: How many levels of headings to include?
If long report: avoid lower-level headings
Indentation, spacing and capitalization:
1.1 Functional Units
1.1.1 Modeling approaches

Writing a Report
Lists of Figures and Tables
- Includes lists of illustrations diagrams, tables and charts in
List of Figures
Figure 1.

EEH and SH Systems

(page #)

List of Tables
Table 1.

Energy-Efficient Strategies

(page #)

Writing a Report
- Specific purpose and topic of the report (first paragraph)
- Intended audience of the report-knowledge that readers need
to understand
- Why write the report?
- Scope of the report-topics covered and not covered
- Background-concepts, definitions, history, statistics
(For a typical 20-page report, the introduction is 2-page length)

Writing a Report
Body of the Report:
(The main text of the report)
- Headings: Use identical style throughout the text
- Lists
- Symbols, numbers, and abbreviations
- Sources of borrowed information: documenting your resources
- Graphics and figures titles
- Cross references: pointing your reader to closely related
information within your reports, or other books and reports

Writing a Report
- A final section
- Three tasks: Conclude, summarize, and generalize
1) Conclude: draw logical conclusions from the discussion that has
2) Summarize: review the key points, key facts from what has
3) Generalize: move away to a general discussion of implications,
applications, and future developments
- The length of the conclusion can be anything from 100-word
paragraph to a 5 or 6-page section.
- For a typical 10 to 20-page report, the conclusion is one to two

Writing a Report

- Extra sections following the conclusion
- Includes anything that does not comfortable fit in the main part of
the report, but cannot be left out of the report
- For large tables of data, sample code, foldout maps, background
that is too basic or advanced.

- The system by which you indicate the sources of the information
you borrow.
- Standard system by the institute of electrical and electronic
engineers (IEEE)

Writing a Report
- You should cite borrowed information (quote, paraphrase,
- Citation may be from: book, article, diagram, table, Web page,
product brochure, or interview with an expert)

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

A recent survey result

Average employee spends 1 hour a day emailing.
Managers spend 2 hours a day emailing.
Which medium to use?
What are the formats, styles, and contents of business
letters, memoranda, and emails?

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Which To Use?
1) Phone or paper?
When to use written documents papers?
- Permanent record: No record of what to say in the phone
- Availability: the recipient is out of his/her office.
- Attitude: the recipient prefer written things.
- Purpose, length, complexity: the topic is too long or complex to
decide on the phone or face-to-face, like product specifications
and proposals.

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

2) Email or paper?
- Email is easier, why?
1. Eliminates the bother of stamps, envelopes and mailboxes
2. No delay in delivery or response
3. Does not require its recipients to be in the right place at
the right time
4. Email has a record of the communication
(But, when to choose to write?)

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Recipients: No email or no way to use email
Need for reply or forwarding: fill out and resend some forms
Security: You can assume that any email you send has a chance of
being seen by anyone in the world
In-person discussion of the memo: if there is meeting (face-to-face)
and everybody must have a print
Importance or length of the information: email for some people is
not a medium for serious business.
In-your-face factor: written documents cannot be avoided, and
hardcopy mail is more convenient than email.
Know your colleagues.

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

3) Business Letter or Business Memo?

Memoranda: written communications that stay within an organization
Business letters: written communications to recipients who are
external to the organization of the sender

Business Letters
Standard components of business letters:
(Try to include most of them, but not necessary all of

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Company or Personal Logo
- Begin one inch below the logo
- On first page only
- Sender address
- Date
Inside address
- Name, title, company, and full address of the recipient

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Subject Line (optional)

- Announces the topic or purpose or both
- Dear Sir element.
- If unclear, omit it, or call the company and get to know it,
otherwise, use group name: Dear Marketing Officer:
To Whom It May Concern:

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Body of the Letter
- Text is single-spaced
- No indentation
- Double-spaced between paragraphs
Complimentary Close
- If no interpersonal action, use Sincerely yours. Only the
first word is capitalized

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Signature Block
- blank area for the signature
- your name
- your title
- your organization
End Notation
- Cc: and Encl:
- Initials of the sender and typist, respectively
- Encl: (specifications), Cc: (name), Bcc: names not to know
they received the letter.

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Four Standard Formats for the Business Letters
Block format: The easiest: all elements are flush left.
Semi-block format: Similar to block format except heading,
complimentary close, and signature are on the right margin.
Alternative block format: format = semi-block + subject line
Simplified format: Same as block format but without the salutation.
(If no interpersonal communication, use the alternative format or
(For serious professional communication such as proposals or
employment letters, use the block format)

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Business Memoranda
Internal to an organization
Examples: Call for employees to attend meetings
A request to an employee to provide information
Standards components of Memos:
1. Heading-DATE: put the date in the header
2. Heading-TO: the name of the recipient
3. Heading-FROM: your name or your groups name or
organizations name
4. Heading-SUBJECT: topic and purpose of the Memo (RE:)

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

5) Signature block: same as business letter
6) Cover memo (technical memo): topic, purpose, overview of
contents, a request.

Guidelines for dealing with emails:
1) Save email into files or folders (be organized).
Meaningful folders: clients, staff, projects, friends, family
2) Keep copies of emails you send.

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

3) Know how to search your emails: quick search.
4) Create aliases and distribution lists: to increase the
5) Use a signature: name, title, organization, phone, fax.
6) Use templates: if standard contents.
7) Proofread and spell check: use the electronic spell checker
and re-read your email to filter out the mistakes.

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

Suggestions for email style:
9 Informality: Be careful when using humor and informality with
9 Brevity: Short, under 12 lines. If long document, send as attached
9 Specific subject lines: Be specific and direct in the subject.
9 The most important information at the beginning of your message.
9 Short paragraphs and spaces: Each paragraph should be less than 6
or 7 lines.
9 Highlighting: Use bold, tables, italics, color, fonts, and graphics for
emphasis and to reinforce your message.
9 Lists: If you make a series of points, and if presenting step-by-step

Writing Business Letters, Memoranda and Emails

9 Automatic reply: a great time saver. Be careful when you use it

with Cc: and Bcc:.

Writing Business
Memoranda and Emails
Major Types
of On-The-Job-Writing
The letters and memos that flow between individuals in
organizations, to provide a writer record or to serve as a brief
exchanges of information on limited topics

External Publications
The formal pieces of writing that go outside the organization
and serve to project the organizations public image

Internal Documents
The reports, proposals, plans, and procedures that stay
inside the organization and keep the organizational wheels turning

Internal Writing
The principal categories of internal writing for government
agencies, businesses, and industrial firms:

1) Routine project reports:

Progress and status reports

Financial reports

Periodic activities report

Travel reports

Sales reports

Objective: To keep top management informed about

whats happening with company business and whos
doing what.

Internal Writing
2) Management decision-making reports
Managerial reports: The most important type of internal writing

Recommendation reports

Feasibility analyses

Long-range planning report

3) Personal documents
Job descriptions

Work assignments

Personnel evaluations

Organizational charts

Rules and regulations of the agency

Internal Writing
4) Archival data reports
Lists, tables, reports, and papers that serve no immediate
informational or decision-making function.
But, contain data and information that might prove useful at
some later date.

The People Who Write

On-the-job writing is limited pretty much to
management-level employees:
1) Supervisors, managers, and executives: people who do not so
much do things as see that things get done
2) Technical experts: accountants, economists, systems analysts,
sales representatives, personnel officers, administrative
3) Researchers
4) Technicians
5) Professional writers and editors

Who Writes What?

Routine project reports: Everybody, but administrators
generate over half the total manuscript pages of routine project reports

Management decision-making reports: Experts, usually

middle management. Administrators prepare recommendation reports
and feasibility analyses, for higher administration

Personnel documents: Job description, personnel evaluations

are written for the most part by supervisors and managers.

Archival data reports: Everyone, mostly by technicians and

technical experts

Writing a Managerial Report

What is a Managerial Report?
The managerial report is different from other forms of
reporting because it serves a special purpose. In it, the writer is
acting as an advocate for recommendation that he/she is making.

Why we need to write a managerial report?

To satisfy this special purpose. This produces three

characteristics in this type of report:
First: This type focuses heavily on the conclusions the writer has
reached rather than dwelling on facts and simple analysis.

Writing a Managerial Report

Second: This type seeks to persuade others to support the writers
Third: This type is managerially oriented in that action is
emphasized by starting with the recommendation and by closing
with the plan of action.

What requirements we need to understand in order

to create a managerial report?

1. To understand the role of persuasion (how to write persuasively)

2. To describe the structure of the report: Recommendation,
attempts, and intentional reasoning to prove the recommendation
is a sound one

Writing a Managerial Report


The goal of the managerial report is to convince the reader to

accept the writers point of view.

To accomplish this, the report needs to be

A managerial report is seen as playing to the human side of the

reader and building a reasoned argument, which is credible to the

Playing to the human side of the reader motivates the reader to

accept the writers point of view.


Writing a Managerial Report

The reader is persuaded by the writer who demonstrates three


1. His/her interests appear to lie with the readers interests

2. He/she presents evidence and ideas that fit with the readers
existing views and understandings
3. He/she maintains a positive tone with respect to the reader.

If the writer is to use these approaches to build emotional

appeal, he/she must understand his/her reader.
Beliefs, Passions, Experiences, and Prior knowledge about
the subject

Building a Reasoned Argument

Five features of a good argument are:

1. Evidence: consisting of facts, opinions, and material things, is

absolutely essential when building an argument.
Statement of evidence should be:
a) Reliable: reliability means that the writer has the facts
right, so that, while different individuals may draw different
conclusions from the facts, there can be no disagreement over the
facts of the situation.
b) Precise: a common error is lack of precision in statements,
which reduces the persuasiveness of argument.
c) Realistic: shocking statements are avoided because they
only provoke the readers distrust and suspicion.

Building a Reasoned Argument

2. Arguments are built using as much observable evidence possible.
3. Assumptions about probable relationships, quantities, or results
are made and stated when needed to carry the reasoning
further. Stating assumptions means the reader has critical
information created by the writer developing the argument.
4. Arguments are built by tying pieces of evidence and assumptions
together and drawing the inferences from them.
5. Shortcomings, weaknesses, and limitations are admitted when the
arguments are presented.
Dealing with both the positive and the negative suggests objectivity
and treats the reader as a mature, informed individual.
Doing so also makes the reader feel that the writer has performed
thorough analysis.

Organizing the Report

A powerful report persuades the reader to accept the
recommendation and put the plan of action in place.
The reader does not want to waste time unnecessarily reading
through endless details of the analysis performed to produce the
So, when does the reader wants the details?
Only if the reader disagrees with the results (should be

How to Organize a Report?

The highlights of the thinking process are best reflected in a report
that is divided into three parts:
1. Recommendations

2. Support

3. Plan of action

Report Structure Summary

1. States the best solution.
2. States the problem it solves.
3. Describes both the solution and the problem in disciplinary
and situational terms.

1. Transforms data and analysis into issues.
2. Draws conclusions regarding each issue.
3. Relates each issue to the problem and/or solution.

Report Structure Summary

Plan of action:
1. States the actions required to put the best solution in
2. Justifies how each action helps put the solution in place by
taking the company from where it is to where it needs to be.
3. Provides a sense for exactly what has to be done for each
4. Assigns responsibility for each action to individuals with the
appropriate authority and responsibility.
5. Presents a time line showing the sequencing and duration of
each action.

Recommendation Section
The managerial report starts with recommendation.
What is recommendation?
A concise declaration of what the writer thinks should be done
to deal with the overriding problem.
1. Should embody only one central idea
2. It may also include part of the problem statement and some
aspects of the alternatives considered.

Why to include a problem statement?

To clarify the need for a solution and motivates the reader to
consider the recommendation carefully

Recommendation Section
Dont go beyond the size of a regular paragraph. Including
more will simply confuse the reader.
Starting with the recommendation helps both the writer and reader:
The writer: is forced to reach a conclusion and cannot hide
behind analysis, and, the analysis must be done so well that a strong
case can be built for the recommendation
The reader: helps the reader anticipate points that will be
raised in the report as they are presented, and, can absorb its content
efficiently since he/she appreciates the relevance of thepoints as they
are presented

Recommendation Section

The style of writing in the recommendation section:

1. A good writer presents the recommendation as a positive
way of dealing with the problem identified.
2. Uses expressions in the recommendation, which can later
serve as active headlines in the support section of the report.
3. Uses appropriate language, relevant to the problem in order
for the recommendation to be focused on the problem.

Support Section
The writer works to convince the reader that the
recommendation is a wise one so should be accepted.
The writer: finds it easier to provide support.
The reader: finds it easier to accept what is said when
arguments are based on sound and thorough analysis.
The readers emotional reactions are more easily enlisted when the
arguments are intellectually defensible.

Support Section
In the analysis:
- Not all the analysis should be described.
- Material has to be selected from the analysis of alternatives,
and comparison of alternative sections of the decision-making
- The material needs to be reworked to accomplish two goals:
1) To build the case for the recommendation
2) To set the reader up for the plan of action (next section)

Support Section
1) Building the case for the recommendation
To present chief arguments in summary. The arguments are those
which are the center and the soul of the problem and its solution,
which have direct effect and powerful bearing on the
The writer should include enough details that the reader appreciates
the writer has a thorough grasp of the situation.

Support Section
2) Setting the reader up for the action plan
The arguments need to be packaged to be presented logically and
One approach is to package them as issues (5-6 issues) are optimal:
significant aspects of the decision + the reader can keep them in
The discussion of each issue should provide evidence and draw
conclusions + the recommendation/issue relationships should also
be drawn for each issue.

Plan of Action Section

The various tasks which have to be performed to put the
recommendation in place, OR, to move the business from its
current situation to the future situation
Therefore, should be:
1. Sensible
2. Doable
3. Produce the required results

Plan of Action Section

The most efficient way of reporting the plan of action is to have a
general statement of the major tasks along with simple
explanations as to their sequencing.
The subtasks are best left to an exhibit or appendix.
Construct a Gantt-chart to present many of the details of the action
In the chart, each and every task is assigned to an individual who has
the necessary authority and resources to perform it. Every task is
also fitted into a timetable with a specific start and completion

Exhibits or Appendices

An efficient way of presenting some kinds of information

Example: A table with data aligned in rows and columns allows several
relationships to be seen at the same table

Should be clear, relevant, and summative

Clear: makes its point apparent to the reader

Relevant: makes a point in support of the argument
Summative: highlights important information, not simply a list of

The exhibit is tied to the text by stating the conclusion, then (See
exhibit A, or appendix A), then the reader gets the point
supported by the exhibit

A Managerial Report

A well done managerial report tells a convincing story

using material in the case. It makes the maximum
use of the evidence provided while putting it in a
context that signifies why it is important

Writing Proposals
Agencies thrive on new ideas.
(Without new ideas, organizations tend to stagnate.)

A Proposal: is a documented idea (oral or written).

A Written Proposal: is a document that proposes a solution to a
technical problem and provides sufficient information so that
management decision-makers can decide whether or not the
proposed solution will be accepted.

Writing Proposals
A proposal is a three-legged stool.





Writing Proposals
In order to accept a proposal, management must be
1. That the proposed solution is technically sound and
operationally feasible
2. That the person or group proposing to solve the problem is
indeed capable of affecting a solution
3. That all costs have been identified, the costs are reasonable,
and the benefits of the solution are commensurate with the total cost
A proposal: - Focuses on a single solution rather than alternatives
- Goes beyond a discussion of what should be done to
include how it will be done, how long it will take, and how much it will

Types of Proposals
1) Solicited: invited by the organization; written to a set of
specifications laid down by the organization

2) Unsolicited: initiated by the individual or group seeking to do

the work of solving the problem

3) A special type: research grant request

4) The in-firm proposal
5) Unsolicited firm-to-firm proposal of limited scope

Types of Proposals
The in-firm proposal:

To convey ideas about your solution to a problem you see within

your own organization

The emphasis is on your solution-not to call managements

attention to problems then suggest someone else to sole them

The emphasis is on the technical solution and cost-benefit analysis

In the managerial section: demonstrate the availability of the

people who will be working to solve the problem + demonstrate
the facilities and equipment needed are available for use by your
project team

In the financial section: cover both direct and indirect costs. Give
a detailed breakdown of clock-hours required by various personnel
categories and assign cost to these figures

Types of Proposals
The firm-to-firm proposal:

It is a statement of who is going to do what for whom and for much.

X proposes to do Y for Z for W dollars.

Example: Interwest Engineering proposes to design a new wastewater

treatment facility for the city of Lewiston for $2,400,000.

In the unsolicited firm-to-firm proposal:

The description and analysis of the problem are vitally important.

The managerial section is also vitally important: If your solution is

feasible + your cost is attractive, your firm will not get the job unless
you can convince the decision-makers that you can handle it.

In the financial section, you must demonstrate that not only is your
cost estimate reasonable, but that you have identified all areas of

General Outline for Proposals


A. Purpose of the document
B. Problem to be solved
C. Scope of the proposal


Technical Section
A. Background (if necessary)
B. Plan of attack (methodology)
1. Overview of the solution
2. Task breakdown by phases
3. Scope of work
C. Time and work schedule

General Outline for Proposals


Managerial Section
A. Credentials and experience of the firm
B. Facilities and personnel available
C. Authorities and Accountabilities


Financial Section
A. Costs
B. Method of payment
C. Revenues or cost savings generated by the project


Tangible Products of the Project


Urge of Action

General Outline for Proposals


A. Purpose: a clear one or two-sentence statement of what you
propose like who is going to do what for whom and for how much
B. Problem: follow with a paragraph or two describing the problem
to be solved. The problem statement serves two purposes:
1. Provides the decision-makers with background information
2. Demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of problem
Summarize the problem in this section, and give more details
about the problem in the following section in background
C. Scope: It serves as a kind of table of contents, identifying for
your readers the various sections of your proposal and the order in
which you present them

General Outline for Proposals


Technical Section
A. Background: to develop your problem statement more fully
B. Plan of action: - give an overview, the big picture of where
you are going with your proposal before you get down to the
- follow this by an identification of the major
phases in the implementation of your proposed solution
- and a breakdown of the individual tasks to be
- In the scope of work subsection: state clearly
who is going to perform which tasks. Use a timeline to show both
clock hours required and elapsed time required for various

General Outline for Proposals


Managerial Section
- Start by describing the credentials of the firm and the people
who make it up
- List and briefly describe projects your organization has
successfully completed, emphasizing those that are similar to the
proposed project
- Provide the names and telephone numbers of individuals who
can vouch for the quality of work
- Demonstrate a track record of getting things done on time at
- If special equipment or facilities are required for the project
you propose, indicate that they are available for assignment to
the proposed project

General Outline for Proposals

- Indicate the specific people in your organization who will be
involved in the project
- For a firm-to-firm proposal, provide resumes
- Indicate the particular individuals who will have authority to make
certain decisions and the individuals or group who ill stand
accountable for various phases of the project

Financial Section
- To identify all areas of cost and whether your itemized estimates
are reasonable
- Costs of a project can be broken down into four categories:
1. wages, salaries, and fees

2. operating expenses

3. materials and expenditures

4. overhead indirect cost

General Outline for Proposals

1. Personnel costs: estimate the clock hours required for each
phase of the project and multiply by the average hourly rate to get
subtotals. Dont assume that personnel within the firm are free.
2. Operating expenses: travel, accommodation, and meals,
computer time, office or lab supplies, telephone expenses
Rule of thumb: make your best guess + 20%, multiply by 2
3. Capital expenditures: list the prices of materials and equipment
and the sources of price information. If to dispose the equipment
on completion, subtract resale value to find the net cost
4. Overhead and indirect cost: rent, utilities on office or lab space,
travel to a conference, costs of publishing reports, secretarial cost

General Outline for Proposals


Tangible products and urge to action

- To close the proposal on a positive note
- Summarize what you have said earlier
- Restate the most positive aspects of your proposed solution
- Stress the tangible, visible products of your services (field data,
copies of draft and progress reports, graphics, plans, models,
interim and final reports, technical bulletins, presentations)


Urge to action
- Should be enthusiastic + persuasive, or could be reserved and
factual depending on your analysis of the primary audience
- Label it Conclusion, Summary, or Concluding Comments

Specimen Proposal
Proposal: A Computerized Costing Procedure
Encoder Products Company
Sandpoint, Idaho
Proposed by
Programming Success Incorporated
Moscow, Idaho
Janell Walt
English 317-01
Assignment #1
Second Submission
December 9, 1981

Specimen Proposal
Computerized Costing Procedure


Purpose: Programming Success Inc. proposes to develop for Encoder Products
Company a customized Costing program that is integrated with your firms existing
computer system. The cost of this project will be $ 2,560.
Problem: The problem that emerges in most rapidly expanding firms such as
Encoder is a lack of control. To gain control, firms need efficient methods of
gathering and distributing data used in management decisions. One of the most
useful forms of data is a costing analysis
Although Encoder has a manual procedure for costing, it is unable to
gather, transform, and distribute data quickly enough to be useful. To solve this
problem, we can write a costing program to give you up-to-date reports at your

Specimen Proposal
Computerized Costing Procedure
Contents of proposal:


i. Title Page

I. An overview of proposal

II. Details of the proposal

III. Managerial section

IV. Financial section

V. Tangible products

VI. Conclusion

Specimen Proposal

Hardware Requirements: This proposal does not require Encoder to purchase any
additional hardware. It is designed to run on your OSM 3566 computer. Terminals
and printers can be used in their current locations.
User: The reports generated by the program are available to any user with a correct
password. For security purposes, each password can be set up to allow full access
or limited access to the reports. For instance, the operators have access to programs
that add, delete and change data. These programs update the costing reports.
File Layout: Existing files that we will use are payroll Masterfile and Accounts
Receivable Masterfile. Automatic transfer of data to and from these files increases
the reliability of the data.

Specimen Proposal
This data integrity feature will save the data from transfer error. Files created by our design
are job Masterfile and Employee Job File.
Payroll File
Emp #


Dept #




Employee job File

Emp # + Job #

Dept #








Job Masterfile
Job #

Co. #


A/C Receivable File

Co. #

Co. Name



Specimen Proposal



Project Director

Gene Schraut

1-A; 8-C

System Analyst

James Mclauglin

a-A; E; 2-B


Janell Watt

1-A; 2-A,B; 3-6; 7-A, 8-A,B


Darlene Held


Specimen Proposal
Phases of Proposal:


Date scheduled

Organizational meetings
Managers Meeting
Examine Hardware

Oct. 20
Oct. 20

Review of Design
Manual Procedure

Oct. 22
Oct. 24

Review of specifications

Oct. 26

Design Documentation

Oct. 29

Program Coding

Oct. 30

Program Testing

Nov. 7

Specimen Proposal
Phases of Proposal:


Date scheduled

Program Documentation
Write Users Manual
Print Users Manual

Nov. 14
Dec. 1

Install Program
Train Operator
Brief Managers


Dec. 19
Dec. 22
Jan. 3

Specimen Proposal

Credentials: Programming success Incorporated has been installing computer
systems for six years. Most of our experience is in the area of customized accounting
and reporting programs. We have many satisfied customers. Feel free to contact any
of them.
Facilities: Our computer facilities include on IBM 3765 computer along with many
microcomputers. Programming languages available are CM S Basic, Waterlou Basic,
Fortran and Cobol.
Personnel: The programmer assigned to your project is Janell Watt. She has six
years of experience including the programming of an accounting system such like
Encoders. Project director is Gene Schraut. If any problem arise contact him with our
toll free number (800-263-8541).

Specimen Proposal

Payment: payments ate to be made monthly installments.
Cost Savings of Proposal: The most apparent cost savings this proposal generates is
the labor saved by computerizing. Personnel that spent a week calculating costs per
unit will now do the task in less than an hour. Personnel freed from the task can be
used elsewhere.
(40 hrs/wk) X (4.00 salary) = 160.00 weekly savings for employee
+ 160.00 savings for employee you will not have hire
------------------$ 320.00 Total weekly labor savings
(2818.00 cost of program)
----------------------------------(320.00 weekly savings)

= 9 weeks to pay for program with savings

Specimen Proposal
Costs of proposal:

project director(12.00/hr)


system analyst (10.00/hr)


programmer (6.00/hr)


literature (4.00/hr)


Computer time


word processing (40 hrs)


development (160 hrs)


selling and administrative


---------------------------------------------------------------Total Costs
Total Cost of Proposal


Specimen Proposal

This project will produce a customized costing program on a floppy disk along with a
users manual to explain how to use the program


All that is lacking in Encoders current costing procedure is speed. Our proposed
costing program can be up and running in two months. I hope to you decide quickly
so we can get started

Writing Common Documents

General Guidelines:
Dont get hung up on the names of reports: No ANSI standards on the
proper names, contents, and format of reports
Find out your companys requirements: Every company or
organization has its own names for reports as well as its own
requirements and formats.
The plans for reports presented cannot be used as template. Always
think creatively.
Build your reports on the needs of your audience: This depends on
the specifics people who are going to read.
Be careful with background section: write the main text of your
report first, then review it of what readers may need help with.

Writing Common Documents

Be careful with report introduction: An introduction announces the
topic, indicates what the audience needs to know to understand the
report, and provides a brief overview of the topics to be covered.
Do not dive into the main subject matter in an introduction.
Inspection and Trip Report
Report on the inspection of a site, facility, or property; summarizes a
business trip; or report on an accident, describing the problem,
discussing the causes and effects, and explaining how it can be
(Site report, inspection report, incident report, trip report, accident

Writing Common Documents

1) Trip report: Discusses the events and other aspects of a business
2) Investigation or accident reports: describe your findings
concerning a problem; explore its causes, its consequences, and
what can be done to avoid it.
3) Inspection or site reports: report your observations of a facility, a
property, or an installation of equipment, with description and

Writing Common Documents

Contents and Organization of Trip and Accident


1) Introduction: purpose, brief overview of its content, dont dive

into details
2) Background:
- Explain the background of the report
- Why you went on the business trip?
- Why you inspect the facility?
- Who sent you?
- Basic facts of the situation (time, date, place,.)

Writing Common Documents

3) Factual Discussion:
- Describe the accident, facility, property, proposed
- What happened on the trip?
- Where you went?
- Who you met with?
- What was discussed?
4) Action Taken: If investigating a problem or implementing a solution,
the report should contain a step-by step discussion.

Writing Common Documents

5) Interpretive, evaluative, or advisory discussion:
- What readers may expect
- Evaluate the property or equipment
- Explain what caused the accident
- Interpret the findings
- Suggest further action
- Recommend to prevent future problems

Writing Common Documents

Format of Trip and Accident Reports
Use memo format unless the report goes over several pages or
there is a certain requirement from your company.
Use headings: To help reader to skip to the sections they want to
Use various types of lists as needed:
- help emphasize key points
- make information easier to follow
- create more white spaces
- make your report more readable
Use tables and graphics as necessary.

Writing Common Documents

Description of products or product requirements
Key technical characteristics (design, testing, manufacturing,
General recommendations
- Two-column lists or tables
- Sentence style: separated, decimal numbering
- Open (performance) style: components should do
- Closed (restrictive) style: components consists of
- Cross reference existing specifications
- Avoid ambiguity

Writing Common Documents

Use shall to indicate requirement.
Make sure you cover everything.
- General description: general terms, administrative details
about costs, start and completion dates
- Part-by-part description
- General-to-specific order: arrange specifications from
general to specific

Writing Common Documents

Writing step-by-step procedures for employees, colleagues, customers,
or clients:
Put yourself in your readers place.
Contents and Organization:
Introduction: Subject, product, audience, overview
Special notices:
- Note: to emphasize special points
- Attention: to alert readers to a potential for ruining the
outcome of the procedure or damaging the equipment
- Caution: to alert readers of minor injury because of some
existing condition

Writing Common Documents

-Danger: to call attention to a situation that is extremely
hazardous to people
Background: To enable readers to figure out much of the procedure
Equipment and supplies: tools and machinery and consumable items
Structure of the instructions: identify the tasks in the procedure
(sequential steps)
Discussion of steps:
- Imperative writing style: Press and Enter key
You should check the temperature

Writing Common Documents

- Supplemental explanation: if some steps require additional
explanation (why readers should or should not do something)
- Special format: numbered lists for sequential steps
Bulleted lists for steps not in order
Vertical lists is preferred
- Headings: To enable readers to find supply lists, background
information, and troubleshooting tips.
(Graphics in instructions): essential. key objects and key actions
should be represented by figures

Constructing Tables and Graphics

Tables: rows and columns of numbers or words
Graphs: represent data from left to right. Change in the data across
Charts: use bars, pie slices to compare the data (bar chart and pie
Guidelines for constructing tables and charts:
- Add figure and table title: below figures and above tables
- Add labels: words that identify the parts being illustrated,
add pointer from each label to the corresponding part
- Indicate sources of borrowed graphs and tables

Constructing Tables and Graphics

- Place the graphs and tables at the point of first reference
- Align and position graphics carefully: adequate spacing, text
above or below the graphics)
- Insert graphics and tables into the text rather than
appending them at the end of the document
- Include a legend: if symbols, colors, shadings, or patterns.
- Refer to your graphics and tables in the text