IntroductionAn engineering report presents to the reader an engineering problem andthe engineering analysis and judgment that concludes in a proposed engineeringdesign or recommendation to that given engineering problem Skills will therefore determine how successful you are as an engineer, perhaps even more so than your technical expertise! This booklet describes briefly how to .
We will look at the objective of your report, the structure of a general engineering report as a whole followedby examining the structure of both engineering analysis and design reports.
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Please note, this is a work in progress and is not complete. An ObjectiveEvery engineering report serves a purpose. It is always a good idea to summarize the purpose the the report in a singleobjective statement: What is the report attempting to accomplish or demonstrate? What shouldthe reader have an understanding of having read the report? In some cases, largerreports may have secondary objectives.
You may even consider the Professional Engineers Act (Ontario): thisdocument gives the primary objective of Professional Engineers Ontario as well as listing five additional objectives (although, in this case, the fifth objective is slightlymore 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 theengineering problem and my solution?" Given any item in the report, be it a section, a figure, or a table, if you cannot justifythrough a causal chain by which that item willhelp 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 theuse 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 linethat describes whether the data is increasing linearly, quadratically, or exponentially. Tabulated raw datashould 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. Structure of the ReportOver the years, a standard format for presenting an engineeringreport has emerged. This serves two purposes: first, the reader becomesfamiliar with the format and will understand where he or she needs to lookto find the relevant information, and second, it helps the author, as a firststep, 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 morelax standards for internal reports, and in any organization, it is your responsibilityto adapt to the local culture.
In other cases, usually consulting engineering firmswho offer their services to the public through certificates of authorization, youwill find that the significance of good form in reports becomes more critical:once a report is in the hands of the client, any errors orambiguities 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 sameplace, the reader does not have to break his or her concentration to quicklymove to the end of the report body to find it. An officer or manager alwaysknows where he or she must look to find a non-technical summary of the informationcontained in the report.
A technical reader will know to look at the start ofthe report body to find your background as well as requirements and criteriathat were used in the determination of your recommendation. The format may notbe ideal, but it is predictable; like the QWERTY keyboard: it is not an ideallayout but it is predictable and English-speaking persons who have visited otherEuropean countries will quickly realize the benefits of predictability(e.
The high-level structure is centered around the report body. The report body is preceded by front matter that introducesthe report body and it is followed by back matter to which the reader will have to referonce 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:Front matter:any appendices. The following summarizes the purpose and high-level structure of each of these components of an engineering report.
Title PageGives the title, authors, and associated organization (institution, corporation, etc. The title of the report should be descriptive but short. Letter of Transmittalthe 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, andany acknowledgments that the authors would like to make.
AbstractA 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. Contributions/AcknowledgmentsThe 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 SummaryThe 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 Communicating and Learning in Engineering Online Resources. 1. Guidelines for Thus your report begins on page 1 with your Introduction. • Provide a title in .
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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 ContentsA 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 FiguresA 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 TablesA 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 EquationsA 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 BodyThe 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.
GlossaryAny 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.
ReferencesReferences 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.
AppendicesAny 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.
Structure of Report Body SubdivisionsThe report body contains the will divided into sections and each of thesesections will have further structure.
A section may, in some cases, be just a single paragraph, orit may be few paragraphs in length, or it may be further subdivided into sub-sections. Thesesubsections can also take on similar structures.
In each case, a section, sub-section, or anyfurther subdivision will be given a unique identifying number and in each case, it should bepossible to extract any subdivision and that subdivision should be, though perhaps withoutcontext, a coherent unit.
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Transitions from the previous paragraph and to the next paragraph may not be necessary These guidelines should help you organize and write an engineering report for this course. Before starting to write a report, make sure to define the goal and scope. how, what and/or why you did what you did to come up with your results..
Multiple-paragraph SubdivisionsThe 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 SubdivisionsIf 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 thestructure of subsections 2. n would summarize the previous n − 1subsections and give a transition to Section 3. If a section is broken into paragraphs, there must be at least one phrase orsentence that refers to that paragraph within both the introduction and summary paragraphs.
If a section is broken intofurther subdivisions, there must be at least one phrase or sentence that refers to each subdivision both in the introductoryparagraphs and in the last summarizing subdivision. As with subsections, a numbered list must always be preceded by sentencesthat introduce the list (usually indicating the significance) and succeeded by sentences that summarize the list (usuallyproviding the usage). Within an engineering report, the author ever expects the reader to refer to a list within thereport, it must always be presented as a numbered list for easy retrieval.
"The components within the system include a u, a z. The reader will note that if the numbering and line spacing is removed, the originalin-sentence list is restored.
If the items being listed include compound sentences that themselves include commas, the list items shouldbe terminated by semicolons. For example, "The requirements of the system includea cost of less than $10,000;sufficient user-friendliness for a business environment;satisfying the ISO 1000, 1001, and 1002 standards; andready 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 thethe 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:The cost must be less than $10,000.
The interface must be appropriate for a business environment staffed by non-technical employees. The system must satisfy the following ISO standards: 1000, 1001, and 1002.
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) ifit is obtained while the applicant isemployed by an employer whose head office is located in Canada, andsupervised by one or more persons who are legally authorized to engage in the practice of professional engineering in a Canadian jurisdiction; and in the Council's opinion, the experience provides the applicant withthe necessary practical skill for the practice of professional engineering, andsufficient 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 engineeringreport, 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 beincorporated into a uniquely identified subsection? The answer is clearly no You then summarize the test and results in a short engineering report. For the wire to be Your report will go to Zheng You, the plant manager. She is primarily .
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If, however, you startto have sections that have ten or more paragraphs, all of which are independent, you may consider trying to determine whatis it that you are trying to say. Try describing the purpose of this section and each of its paragraphs to a friend andyou 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 andconcluding 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, ifa 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.
"You do not want to have to say "This conclusion is drawn from the second paragraph of Section 3. "We will finish with by considering the structure of the four sections of the report body that we have already specified:IntroductionFor 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 ProblemIt 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. ConclusionsAs 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. RecommendationsIf 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 orimplied introduction and summary.
We will continue by looking at a more in-depth structure of an engineering analysis report followedby an engineering design report. Structure of an Engineering Analysis Report BodyAt the top level, the report body is divided into numbered sections. Thisgives structure to the report and also allows the reader to refer to a uniquesection identifier.
We will look at the overall structure and then proceed byby looking at format of the individual sections. 1 The Report Body FrameworkThe report body will be anchored by four sections: it will begin with an introduction anda description of the engineering problem and it will finish with conclusions and recommendations. The contents of the report body should appear as follows: 1.
RecommendationsWe will proceed by looking at the content of the introduction, thedescription of the engineering problem, the conclusions, andthe recommendations.
2 The IntroductionThe first is the introduction which sets the context and describes theformat of the balance of the report body Purchase the SYDE Style Manual for report writing from the Bookstore) The letter I did on my work term category and which has no specific engineering design or analysis content. A business plan does not qualify as an acceptable topic..
This will usually include:The background of the report, usually including descriptions ofthe organization,a brief overview of the technical scope, andthe specific component or project for which this report is prepared;A brief one-sentence summary of the engineering problem; andA brief overview of the structure of the balance of the report.
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It is not necessary to be unnecessarily verbose; for example,The report continues by listing the requirements and reducing these to a number ofcriteria, the possible alternatives will be listed, followed by a description ofthe testing setup and the methodologies that will be used. The results of theanalysis 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 theengineering problem at hand together with the requirements, criteria, and associated analysis.
3 The Description of the Engineering ProblemThis second section will describe in detail the engineering problem.
This isfollowed by the associated requirements as specified by the client. It is necessaryto indicate which requirements are hard (must be satisfied) and soft(can be satisfied).
Soft requirements can often be used to differentiate betweenmultiple solutions, all of which satisfy the hard requirements. If the author of the report is also required to prepare the requirements, itwould also be necessary to give an analysis of the requirements indicating whythey are being included.
With this, it is also necessary to indicate why other requirements which may casually appear obvious or necessary are explicitly beingexcluded. The analysis of the requirements is necessary, as a reader whodisagrees with the your requirements will therefore dismiss the balance ofthe report.
As a courtesy to the reader, it is necessary to list a summary of the requirements in anumbered list from the most important to the least important. By doing so, thereader who is quickly flipping through the report will be able to easily findthe requirements.
The next step will be to convert each requirement into one or more criteria that canbe quantitatively measured. In each case, this will require analysis on your partto justify your choices.
In each case, you will have to identify the metric thatis being used to evaluate each criterion and the minimal targets for each criterionassociated with a hard requirement. The form of the subsequent sections is less rigid and therefore we will passover these for now and jump to a description of the conclusions and recommendations.
4 ConclusionsHaving described the possible solutions, the testing environment and methodologies,and the subsequent analysis, it is necessary to summarize the analysis in theform of conclusions.
The order in which the conclusions are listed can bevaried and they can be organized aroundthe requirements,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 fromwhich a conclusion can be derived, that conclusion does not belong in thissection.
If you are deriving conclusions are not based on the requirementsand criteria, it might be useful to revisit and perhaps revise that sectionof the report. For your first engineering analysis report, it is often usefulto explicitly place this sentence in front of each conclusion to remindyou of this requirement.
Once all the relevant conclusions have been drawn from the report, it isnow time to give your recommendations. 5 RecommendationsThe final section of any engineering analysis report are your recommendations. You have presented the reader with a situation and an engineering problem, therequirements and criteria have been listed, the possible solutionshave been enumerated, the testing environment and methodologieshave been derived, the analysis performed, and the conclusions of those have been listed.
It is now time to give your recommended solution. Recommendationsare always presented as actionable items.
As such, a recommendation will alwaysbe a descriptive sentence indicating what the client should do. Tables andgraphs 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 therecommendation is superfluous to the report or perhaps you should return to yourrequirements 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 conclusionsderived therefrom will be able to form the basis for such recommendations.
6 Summary of the Engineering Analysis ReportsWe have described the high-level structure of the report body.
The report bodyis begun with an introduction that gives the context by summarizing the backgroundand engineering problem and this is followed by a detailed description of theengineering problem together with the requirements, criteria, and the associatedanalysis. The report body finishes with a list of conclusions that are drawn fromthe analysis in the report body and recommendations that may be based onthe conclusions and analysis within the report body.
The next stepis to describe the grammatical structure of each section. Structure of an Engineering Design Report BodyTo be completed. The Contents of the Report BodyThe previous sections have describe how various engineering reports are structured. We will now look atthe contents of those sections by considering the use of English vocabulary, grammar, figures, tables, equations,and rhetoric.
1 Use of English VocabularyThis 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 particularproperty 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". 2 Use of English GrammarThis 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. The contraction of its is the possessive form of it. For example, "The processor releasesa 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 withconjunctive 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.
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.
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While this may initially be difficult as it might be quite common to use the terms such as manpower 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" orthe 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.
In referring to percentages, for general low-precision percentages butfor more precises percentages, use the % symbol and remember that it is a unit and there must be a space or a half-space betweenthe 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 beunnecessarily 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.
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. Any time that does not have the time modifier specifying the timerelative to noon is assumed to be using 24-hour notation.
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The punctuation emphasizes the relative weight of the parenthetical information to the balance ofthe sentence Your audience for an academic report is already very well informed. Your professor and teaching assistants will not usually read your report in order to extract .
Parentheses indicate less importance (for example, this is really not needed), commas indicate equal importance, while dashes indicatethat the the parenthetical information is of greater significance.
For example, "He moved the furniture, however slowly, to the other room. 'That' restricts what it describes while 'which' is nonrestrictive; consequently, any clause starting with 'which' shouldbe 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.
", and "My car—which he smashed into—is in the shop.
" In the firstexample, the person may have two cars and here "that" restricts the discussion to that car that was in an accident. Withoutthe phrase "that was in the accident last week" leave the subject ambiguous.
In the second example, "which was in an accidentlast week" volunteers additional information about the car—in this case, indicating some reason as to why it is inthe shop. In the third case, the phrase "which is blue" is information that is gratuitous and not critical to thesentence.
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 ofsentences. 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. " can be replaced by"The process is affected by the following factors: . 4 Use of Figures, Tables, and EquationsTo be completed. 5 SummaryWe have seen how to incorporate and make best use of English vocabulary, English grammar, figures, tables, and equations into engineering reports. ConclusionWe have covered the structure of an engineering report, the general structurethe 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 anappropriate summary.
This is true of the report as a whole where the report body is preceded bythe front matter and succeeded by the back matter.