Research & Visuals in Formal Reports

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  • 0:00 Making Reports Persuasive
  • 0:57 Using Research
  • 1:44 Examples of Research
  • 2:40 Using Visuals
  • 3:25 Examples of Visuals
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Your technical writing may be superb, but at some point even the best writers need a little help to make their work more readable. In this lesson, we look at how research and visuals can assist in doing that.

Making Reports Persuasive

When you really think about it, technical writing can be, at its core, very persuasive. This is perhaps most true when it comes to letters and resumes, as you are trying to sell a product or your services to a company. However, even reports are very persuasive at some level. After all, aren't you trying to convince the audience of the importance of your findings? Unfortunately, flashy language and advertising tricks are generally frowned upon when it comes to technical writing. However, there are two techniques that you can use to instantly add persuasiveness to your technical writing: By incorporating research and visuals, you can make your writing be much more authoritative, meaning that it is much more likely to be taken seriously. In this lesson, we will look at different types of research and visuals, as well as how each can be used to make reports more persuasive.

Using Research

Research can take a variety of forms, but above all else, it shows that you've done your homework. However, too much research can be a bad thing. For example, above all else, technical reports should be readable. If there is so much research jargon crammed into a page that it is not easily read, then the report is effectively worthless. Instead, consider how you should present your research on the page. If it is a couple of widely known sources, then in-text citation is effective. Otherwise, footnotes or endnotes could allow you to demonstrate that you have the research to back up your claims. That way, people who want to can check your facts, while it is easy for those who don't feel such a desire to just absorb the content of your writing.

Examples of Research

Research can take two different varieties. Quantitative research provides hard numbers to back up your data. If, for example, you say that your company has increased its market share in the widget market, it is obviously pretty useful to have the research that backs up such a claim at least alluded to in the document. Other examples of quantitative research could range from price lists to the stock prices of the component parts of a mutual fund.

Meanwhile, qualitative research does not require numbers. Instead, this is based on all of those non-numeric bits of research that are important. If a reporter has written a story about consumer dissatisfaction with a particular type of widget, that is an example of qualitative research. Likewise, if you are an intelligence analyst, the private musings of a senior level official in the target government are an excellent form of qualitative research.

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