Familiarity with a topic can make you unaware of content gaps or lack of clarity in a paper or report. In our previous blogs, we reviewed How to Correct Common Errors in Technical Papers and Reports. The following checklist will help you locate and correct three additional common errors:
- Poorly written Methods sections
- Unnecessary, inaccurate, or out-of-date content
- Mechanical errors
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Familiarity with a topic can make you unaware of content gaps or lack of clarity in a paper or report. In our previous blog, we reviewed How to Correct 5 Common Errors in Technical Papers and Reports. The following checklist will help you locate and correct two additional errors:
- Lack of consistency
- Unclear, ambiguous wording
1. Lack of consistency. Why is consistency so important for technical writers? Inconsistency in format and wording may distract and confuse readers and affect their perception of you as a reliable, credible author. Consistency improves the paper’s or report’s flow and clarity and thereby readers’ comprehension. Read more ›
When familiarity with a topic makes you unaware of content gaps or lack of clarity in a paper or report, the following checklist will help you locate and correct five common errors:
- Faulty organization
- Insufficient context to orient readers
- Failure to guide readers through the content
- Insufficient description and detail
- Poor use of illustrations
1. Faulty organization. Why is logical organization so important? A well-chosen structure for a paper or report guides readers comfortably through the content and increases readers’ understanding. Within standard paper and report templates, use familiar organizational patterns such as the following:
- Order of importance for readers who are apt to agree with your conclusions and recommendations. Begin the paper or report with the information of greatest interest to readers. Provide an informative abstract or summary for busy decision makers.
- Reverse order of importance for readers who may at first disagree with your conclusions or recommendations. In persuasive documents, create common ground and present your rationale before your recommendation.
- Chronological order for site visit reports and trip reports. Since methodical time order can bury critical information, preface your chronology with a summary that captures your most important findings and recommendations.
- Spatial or sequential order for process and procedure descriptions. Before taking readers into the details of your spatial description (moving north to south, left to right, or clockwise, for example) or of your process or procedure, orient your readers with an overview. Also, ensure that the process or procedure is described in absolute sequential order.
- Comparisons to juxtapose the advantages and disadvantages of two or more solutions. In order of importance to decision makers, present the criteria for successfully resolving the problem and evaluating the solution.
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