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ENG 295 – Formal Report

Centennial College

Morningside Ave. Scarborough

July 28th, 2010

Table of Contents

Abstract ………………………………………………….1



Mind tools experts:

I. Audience and Format

II. Composition and Style

III. Structure

IV. Grammatical error

V. Proofing

Dawn Rosenberg McKay:

VI. Organization

Conclusion ………………………………………………..7-8



To be a good Management Information System student, writing skills is a critical area in which a

student should be familiarize with as every management student or worker will always give a

report on the situation of things in his/her workplace, it could be daily, weekly, monthly, or

quarterly. This report is about what writing skills is all about, why we should develop a good

writing skills and the importance of writing skills and how we can improve our writings skills.

The majority of this report is based on the difference concept of two persons on matters

regarding writing skills. I did manage to include my own personal view regarding the topic as

well. This report addresses the core values of writing and answers some major issues with



Writing is a method of representing language in visual or tactile form. Writing systems use sets

of symbols to represent the sounds of speech, and also have symbols for such things as

punctuation and numerals. Every human above the age of two (2) must have written in one form

or the other. But the more one advance, the more one needs to improve his/her writing style and

writing skills too. The mission of writing intended, determines how one adjust his/her writing

skills to suit the mission. Types of writing: Formal, Informal writing, Letter writing, Journals or
Newsletter and so much more. Practice as well as following basic rules will improve one’s

writing skills.


In technical writing, most technical students or technical workers for example a

MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM (MIS) student will always need to write a report

to his/her boss on situations or work concluded on a giving project.

Example: If two (2) computers in your office breaks down and you need to inform your boss of

the broken down computers and to also inform him on how important it is to fix it immediately

so as not to affect production. But to fix these computers will cost the company money which

might make your boss reluctant to fix it. It is important to convince him technically without

forcing him. This is when you’re writing skills becomes very important and needed.

Mind tools experts describe writing skills and competence writing based on format, style,

structure and grammatical error.

Audience and Format

The first step to writing clearly is choosing the appropriate format. Do you need to send an

informal email? Write a detailed report? Create advertising copy? Or write a formal letter? The

format, as well as your audience, will define your "writing voice" – that is, how formal or
relaxed the tone should be. For instance, if you write an email to a prospective client, should it

have the same tone as an email to a friend? NO. Start by identifying who will read your message.

Is it targeted at senior managers, the entire human resources team, or a small group of engineers?

With everything you write, your readers, or recipients, should define your tone as well as aspects

of the content.

Composition and Style

* Start with your audience – Remember, your readers may know nothing about what you're

telling them. What do they need to know first?

* Create an outline – This is especially helpful if you're writing a longer document such as a

report, presentation, or speech. Outlines help you identify which steps to take in which order, and

they help you break the task up into manageable pieces of information.

* Use AIDA – If you're writing something that must inspire action in the reader, follow the

Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) formula. These four steps can help guide you through

the writing process.

* Use simple language – Unless you're writing a scholarly article, it's usually best to use

simple, direct language. Don't use long words just to impress people.


Your document should be as "reader friendly" as possible. Use headings, subheadings, bullet

points, and numbering whenever possible to break up the text.

Headers should grab the reader's attention. Using questions is often a good idea, especially in

advertising copy or reports, because questions help keep the reader engaged and curious.
In emails and proposals, use short, factual headings and subheadings, like the ones in this article.

Adding graphs and charts is also a smart way to break up your text. These visual aids not only

keep the reader's eye engaged, but they can communicate important information much more

quickly than text.

Grammatical Errors

You probably don't to be reminded that errors in your document will make you look

unprofessional. It's essential to learn grammar properly, and to avoid common mistakes that your

spell checker won't find.


The enemy of good proofreading is speed. Many people rush through their documents, but this is

how you miss mistakes. Follow these guidelines to check what you've written:

* Proof your headers and sub headers – People often skip these and focus on the text alone.

Just because headers are big and bold doesn't mean they're error free!

* Read the document out loud – This forces you to go more slowly, so that you're more likely

to catch mistakes.

* Use your finger to follow text as you read – This is another trick that helps you slow down.

* Start at the end of your document – Proofread one sentence at a time, working your way

from the end to the beginning. This helps you focus on errors, not on content.
However, Dawn Rosenberg McKay focuses writing skills on organization of a write up. It is

important to know that when writing a memo to your co-worker or a report for your boss, you

should decide what information you want to convey. So how is this done?

1. List each item you need to discuss in your memo or report.

2. Put them in order — from most to least important

3. Write a brief summary of your entire memo — this will be your first paragraph.

4. Expand on each item listed in step 1.

5. If any action needs to be taken by the recipient, state that in your closing paragraph.


Avoid wordiness. Say out loud what you are trying to write. Listen to how the words sound. For

example, the sentence, "I found out that I should take a look at our past sales figures in order to

come up with a plan to help us re-evaluate our sales technique" could be more simply stated as "I

must take a look at our past sales figures to re-evaluate our sales technique."

Write for your audience. Use simple language. You don't want the reader to need a dictionary to

decipher what you are trying to say. You should not try to impress your reader with your huge

vocabulary. Chances are you will frustrate your reader instead. Most people are juggling several

tasks at the same time, and are interested in receiving only necessary information. You are

responsible for making this happen. Instead of saying, "His gregarious nature credentials him as

a superlative candidate for the job;" say "His friendliness makes him a top candidate for the job."

Stay away from jargon your reader may not understand. If your work is very technical, but the

person you are writing to is not well versed in that field, stick to words that person will
understand. For example, if you are a Web site designer, this sentence in a memo to your client, a

psychologist, will make no sense: "What would you like me to use as the BGCOLOR for your

site: #ADD8E6 or #FFFFFF?" Anyone proficient in Web page design knows that this question

can be translated to "What would you like the background color of your site to be: Light Blue or

White?" However, don't expect your client to be more familiar with this technical jargon than

you would be with her discussion of a psychological term such as trichotillomania.

A cliché a day keeps the reader away — or at least it does not make him or her remember what

you are saying. You want your writing to be memorable. Because we hear clichés often, we

become desensitized to them. The words, then, are not uniquely associated with your writing.

Rather than saying "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today" in a memo to a

subordinate you are trying to motivate. Simply say, "Stop procrastinating. Get the job done


When possible, use the active voice. The active voice makes your sentence stronger and usually

shorter. Let's try these examples. Passive voice: "Sales increased due to the networking I did."

Active voice: "My networking increased sales."


● Writing skills - For a technical writer, writing skills can never be overlooked. The
technical writer still needs to write in a clear and concise manner and to be able to convey
information appropriately for a variety of audiences.
● Technical skills - The technical skill set of a technical writer depends greatly on the
subject matter, product or service that requires documentation. Hardware and software
documentation differ in the skills that the technical writer needs to bring to the table.
Additionally, pharmaceuticals and other manufacturing industries have specific
requirements that translate into knowledge the technical writer must have. A technical
writer asked to document a developer’s guide may need to have a pretty good handle on
specific programming languages, while a technical writer tasked with documenting a
weapons defense system might need a high degree of engineering comprehension as well
as a solid knowledge of government documentation standards.
● Tools skills - Needless to say, a technical writer needs to know his or her way around
computer systems, since they are used to produce documentation in a variety of formats.
Specific tool knowledge, such as Adobe FrameMaker, MS Word, MadCap Flare,
RoboHelp, and even PageMaker and Quark really depends on the tools the organization
has come to rely on in order to produce its technical documentation. However, technical
writers are accustomed to learning – it’s really what they do, and most are capable of
learning a new tool quickly and efficiently.
● Interviewing and listening skills - Technical writers need to know how to ask questions.
They also need to know who is the best person to approach and they need to have a feel
for the varying personalities and preferences of the people – the subject matter experts, or
SMEs – in order to know how best to approach them. Once the technical writer has found
the appropriate SME to approach, strong listening skills will be required to capture the
information necessary and to know which follow-up questions need to be answered.
● Design skills - An appreciation for the visual can be an important part of the skill set of a
technical writer. Even the earliest technical documents didn’t consist of just the written
word. To a growing extent the technical writer needs an appreciations for graphics and
formatting as well as illustration skills. Depending on the needs of the organization, these
skills may only need to be rudimentary or they may need to be very advanced.
● Usability and testing skills - A technical writer may also be asked to take an active role in
usability and testing. Even if not asked to take a role, the technical writer knows that
validation of the documentation is important – the confirmation that the product works
the way it is documented to work. In some organizations, the technical writer is an
important part of the User Experience team.


To have good writing skills we need to do a lot of practice regularly and also learns the basic

rules required to have a good write up. The format of our writing is very important to make our

writing attractive to its audience. Being too formal when writing to a friend/family might be

quite boring reading, but when writing to a boss or a job search, one needs to be very formal, or

when writing to a lame man who have little idea about what you want to write. It’s important that
the content of your write-up is very concise and that is about the style. Some format of writing

requires header, subheadings, greeting at the end of the write-up which depends on the structure.

Lack of good structure may repel the reader just by looking at what you have written.

Grammatical errors should be minimized or avoided completely to aid smooth reading. After

every write-up always take a second look which is proof reading or give someone close to you to

help you brush through your write-up for mistakes and corrections and finally, the organizing of

one’s write-up go a long way in not only aiding easy understanding for the reader but to also

make it enjoyable when reading.

Writing skills is not only an area of study but it is also a part of our lives which most of us don’t

really take note of or neglect.


It is recommended that writing skills be a topic all students is well taught. Inability to express

oneself adequately in writing can sometimes lead to misinterpretation of one and sometimes

failing to convince the reader or even misunderstanding in an organization.

It’s also important that Centennial College should get more books that discuss and teaches

writing skills in its library and teachers should as well go for refreshing courses to update their

knowledge about writing.


1. Mind tools: essential skills in writing
2. Dawn Rosenberg McKay (career planning guidance)