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This guide offers fifteen tips on how to “polish” or edit a report to eliminate stylistic errors and other common problems that distract readers.Two items (#14 and #15) pertain to reports prepared for business audiences.

Tips on polishing the report

  • Use “find” and “replace” to locate words that your fingers mistyped and that the spelling checker recognized as correct words. Lots of us have many common typos— hthe for “the” or “noe” for “one.” Check especially for “ then ” (the adverb of time) when you meant “ than ” (to indicate a comparison; “taller than he was”) and the following:
    • coal “ seem ” where you meant “coal seam
    • where ” where you meant “ were
  • Use “few” or “fewer” (comparative) with COUNTABLES. For example, resources can be counted. Say “few resources.” Use “less” with UNCOUNTABLES. For example, visibility or leadership can’t be counted. Write “less visibility” or “less leadership.”
  • In business style, use a singular pronoun to refer to a company (for example, “This cost will reduce ABC’s barriers to entry and improve its rate of acceptance . . . .”). Use a plural only when you are referring to a company’s management: “Cisco fought back against AJAX Corp. They voted to reject AJAX’s hostile bid.”
  • Make sure the introduction and the summary are perfect. In the following example the word “be” is needlessly duplicated: “. . . revenue would be potentially be pure profit. . . .”
  • When you have two clauses in a sentence and intend to show contrast between them with the word “however,” you must put a semicolon BEFORE the word “however” and a comma after it. Use the find command to locate instances of “however” that join clauses.
    • For example: In FY 2004/05, the agency achieved a total water savings that was 15.4 percent below the targeted amount of 16,016 AFY; however, the water savings achieved through landscaping initiatives exceeded the target by 22.4 percent.
    When “however” functions merely as an adverb, a comma on both sides is enough: “Martial law, however, disrupted the refining of petroleum in the region.” Here “however” means “nonetheless.”
  • Introduce figures, insert them, then discuss them. Don’t put in any figures you don’t discuss. Introduce the figure before it occurs in the text. If you capitalize “Figure” in the figure title (which goes below the figure), capitalize it in the discussion. Your reader is thinking, “Tell me what I’m going to see and then tell me how to interpret what you’ve shown in the figure.”
  • The bibliography should be in the same font as the rest of the paper, but in smaller point size.
  • Separate parts of a reference end with periods. There’s a period at the end of each part in all major citation styles. Do look up one and learn the basic types.
    • American Psychological Association (APA) style has four parts, each ending with a period: Last name, F. (date). Title of book. Publication information.
    • If the author is not an individual, use the association name or if no source can be identified, use a blank underscored space: ________. (Date). Title of source. Publication city, ST: Publisher.
  • A document doesn’t carry your tone of voice, gestures, or pauses. A sentence that can be understood when spoken may sound awkward when read silently. The writer should change “All costs we either recently obtained quotes on or are past operational costs inflated to reflect today’s prices” to “The costs below are based either on quotes recently obtained or on past operational costs inflated to reflect today’s prices.” (You probably had to read that first version more than once to make sense of it; the difficulty you encountered illustrates this kind of problem.)
  • Make sure sentences have both a subject and a predicate and that adverbs do not create ambiguous readings. The following sentence from an internship draft would be correctly understood if the writer spoke it with a pause following “after”: “Shortly after the well was plugged between the 2nd and 3rd coal seams.” However, a reader would be entitled to think the writer had begun with a dependent clause when no comma follows “after,” as you would if you started to read the following: “Shortly after the semester began, two students left the program.” If the writer puts a comma between “after” and “the well,” the reader will understand correctly on the first reading.
  • Also, put a comma after “first” or “second” or any other ordinal number that might be misread if the reader thought it modified the noun that followed it. Don’t write “Second measurements were taken” if you mean that after a first step that didn’t involve measurements, you took measurements for the first time. Write, “Second, measurements were taken.” Do not use “firstly” or “secondly.” That form is no longer acceptable in technical documents. Use “first” and “second.”
  • Write out the meaning of symbols the first time you use them. Write out Fahrenheit the first time with (F) in parentheses. Afterward, just use F to indicate Fahrenheit.
  • A smooth, fast start puts the agent in the subject position and the action in the verb.
    • Original: “Firstly, it is the hope of the company that the satisfaction of the energy needs of the field can result from methane reserves from the coals within the lease area.”
    • Fast start: “The company expects the lease area’s methane reserves to supply fuel for the field.”
  • If you want to be recognized for your accomplishments in a business situation, you need to document your own responsibilities and achievements. Don’t disappear in the report. The manager who needs the report needs to be able to tell which steps in the project YOU completed and which have been performed by others.
  • If you are writing a business report and your project did not produce a positive opportunity for the company, you may write about the conditions under which it might do so in the future. For example, say that "although the project is not feasible now, under other conditions (lower interest rate, lower tax rate, increased volume of sales, etc.) the opportunity should be considered."

Look for answers to other questions of usage and style in a resource such as Management Communication: A Guide , by Deborah C. Andrews and William Andrews (2003).

Questions & Answers

what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
AMJAD
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Becoming a professional scholar. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10871/1.2
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