Book - report writing

The structuring, writing, evaluating and editing of reports
Skills for writers and their supervisors

By Clive G Bruckmann and Wim GB Mandersloot


Communication forms an integral part of the work in the professions.

It is intertwined with problem solving and management. In education, the development of communicative powers usually receives insufficient attention. Besides, there is the common misunderstanding that report writing is a language problem, while actually most of the problem is one of structuring.

That is exactly where the authors, building on decades of experience in the editing of reports and publications and in teaching technical communication, have introduced a fresh approach based on appropriate structuring and logical thinking. The described tools to be used and criteria to be applied have proved their merit in practice.
The South African Institution of Chemical Engineers is proud to be associated with this monograph, which provides a guide for use both in education and in the practice of many professions.

Chris H Albertyn,
President, SAIChE 98


It is one of the functions of the professional institutions to provide guidance, information and continuing education on subjects of immediate interest to its members. This is of particular importance where there are gaps in the formal education and practical training of our profession.
The work of professionals and their support personnel consists of an intertwining of problem solving (in its widest sense), communication on it and management of the problem solving action. The requirements of writing in the professions are quite different from those of literary, fiction, essay and journalistic writing.
Accuracy, brevity and clarity form the 'abc' of report writing with orientation towards the audience as the guiding principal.
This theme was retained when the authors transformed an earlier short guide on report writing, that was the CSIR's best-selling document for decades, into a more comprehensive and up-to-date book. It reflects many more years of experience in technical editing, teaching of report writing and desktop publishing. In its 240 pages, the book covers some issues not commonly dealt with in books on 'technical' writing for instance: new techniques for 'critical reading', essential in the evaluation of text; practical aspects of graphics that you will not find described elsewhere; word processing skills writers need to know about; and the essentials of the preparation of manuals, proposals and oral presentations.

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Price: (excluding postage)
SAIChE members R130-00
Non-members R150-00
Distribution (Southern Africa)
To place your order, please contact the SAIChE office:
SAIChE, PO Box 2125,North Riding, 2162
Tel: (011) 704 5915
Fax: 086 672 9430
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The book/s will be posted on receipt of payment and correct postal address.

More about the book

The target audience - This book is aimed at writers, supervisors and editors of professional reports, with some bias towards those in science and technology.
The objective - to provide guidelines and criteria for report writers, their supervisors and editors. A report is generally the final step in a process designed to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. The objective of a report is to convince the audience that a solution to the problem has been found and that the recommendations warrant implementation.
The problem - the point that stood out in our editing experience is that the main problem with report writing is structuring, at all levels. Once the structures are in place, rectifying remaining language problems is usually easy.
The solution - In contrast to other publications on report writing, we have put the accent on structure and have included discussion of the modern writing tools. Writers need to structure:

  • the information, to provide clarity both to themselves (when evaluating) and their audience (when communicating)
  • the report, to provide a logical thread from problem statement to recommendation
  • the reasoning, so that it is logically sound and clear
  • the paragraphs and sentences, so that they convey their meaning effectively


They also need to ensure that every item of information and every point made is in the appropriate report section.
An effective report is characterised by accurate facts, valid inferences, sound professional judgement and convincing reasoning set out in a terse readable style in a pleasing layout. For its evaluation, writers, supervisors and editors need to be aware of the criteria to be applied; they need to develop a critical reading ability. They also need to be aware of the relevant aspects of word processing, incorporation of computer-generated images and oral presentation requirements; these are addressed in this book. All illustrations were computer-generated and imported into the word processor.
Report writing is a creative part of the problem solving process, not easy but very satisfying if it all 'comes together'.
Professional writing will produce results in proportion to its communicative power.
Clive G Bruckmann
Wim GB Mandersloot


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