Using the writing and editing process can help you and your team create effective reports and understand where the process steps come into play when you are addressing specific report characteristics.
Prewriting helps you clarify your thinking before you start writing. Your drafting and editing will be easier and more effective because prewriting helps you:
Your Company's Report Standards
In some companies, report-specific or company-specific style requirements vary from department to department. In other companies, company-specific styles and standards may be poorly defined. When they do exist, they may consist of nothing more than vague instructions and generic templates: "Use two columns on a page and use a table here. That's our style," or "Here, make your report look like this one. The boss liked that report." We recommend developing consistent, clear styles and standards for reports.
The relationship between effective reports and the writing and editing Process.
THE BASIC STRUCTURE OF A PERSUASIVE REPORT OR PROPOSAL
Gantt and/or PERT Charts
To facilitate prewriting tasks, we have found that it is helpful to use simple Gantt or PERT charts to show the relationships among tasks, people, resources, costs, and timelines, as well as to sequence the sub steps of a specific project.
Another tool that can help increase the effectiveness of your prewriting step is to create simple visual sketches or networks of ideas. This will help you visualize and analyze the relationships among your ideas and to best sequence they (Figure). Some people quickly sketch a flowchart with a few identifying words; others create simple or very complex outlines. Simply list your key points and subordinate ideas using bulleted points.
Or, if you want to stress the conceptual relationships among ideas, sketch a relational map (networking, mapping) that uses labeled links among your ideas to show key points and relationships.
There are several advantages to creating these visual sketches during your prewriting step:
Prewriting technique visual representations
(Using labeled relationships* to analyze and link concepts).
Research and Drafting
After completing your prewriting step, focus on two key ideas as you begin to draft your report:
Research Processes and Techniques
We do not cover research processes or techniques here because of the complexity of the topics. If you haven't been trained in research design, measurement, and statistical analysis, add someone to your team who is knowledgeable in these areas, or hire a consultant. It is
PREWRITING TECHNIQUE: AN OUTLINE
Potential U.S. Warehouse Locations
PREWRITING TECHNIQUE: A BULLETED LIST
U.S. Warehouse Options
Capital and Operating Costs
Critical that you understand the assumptions you are making during your research design, measurement, and analysis tasks. If you don't have good data, and if you don't analyze it correctly, you are likely to write a report that is rejected or, worse, leads to bad decisions.
Drafting Processes and Techniques
After completing any preliminary research and organizing your material, you need to start drafting (writing) your material.
Start writing by reviewing the goals and requirements that you identified in your prewriting step. Start writing on any of your topics or subtopics. Don't force yourself to start at the beginning and write linearly. Start with the topic you know best one that will flow quickly and easily. Then, build other pieces of your report, using the structure of your outline, flowchart, or visual (relational) map.
Remember, when you are drafting, your goal is to get your ideas down. Worry later about having perfect phrasing and grammar. Don't stop to punctuate your citations or footnotes. Note that you need a figure or a table, but don't stop to create them with painstaking precision. Those are editing tasks, not part of your drafting step. Get your ideas down. Fix them later.
As we explained in Chapter, the editing process can be simple or time-consuming depending upon how well you have completed your prewriting and drafting steps.
As you start editing a complex report:
As you will recall from Chapter, we recommend editing for logic, organization/layout, and then grammar. You'll be wasting time later if you don't edit your materials logically and sequentially.
The post writing steps are fundamentally the same for all documents. For reports, make certain that you validate the adequacy of any figures and tables, the accuracy of your citations and references, and the adequacy of your executive summary. Remember that most people do not want to write reports. Even fewer want to read them. Executive summaries that allow the report user to make decisions and locate critical sections quickly will greatly increase the effectiveness of your reports.
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