This list below indicates some of the general problems students encounter when writing technical reports and some strategies for fixing these problems.


Basic Spelling. A document should always be checked for spelling. Considering that utilities for checking spelling are available in most software this is expected. Be aware that ’smell checkers’ will only point out misspelled words, not words used inappropriately, so you should also proofread.



Technical Spelling. Many technical terms are not in the dictionaries used for checking spelling. You may add these terms to the dictionary, or visually verify. Be very careful when using the ’autoreplace’ options in software.


Basic Grammar. ’Grammar checkers’ can be used to look for obvious problems. Using simple sentence structures will reduce problems and speed the writing process. Grammar checking software should not be used as a replacement for proofreading.



Technical Grammar. Normally grammar checking will reject text written in pas-sive voice, but the software can often be reconfigured. This software will also be confused by the interchangeable use of nouns and verbs common in technical English, such as input.


Jargon and Acronyms. A number of technical terms and acronyms have been developed for efficiency and clarity. Examples include DMM, HTTP, kitted, parted, etc. All acronyms should be defined at their first use.


Colloquialisms. Avoid informal language in technical reports. Use of informal language such as ’show me the beef’ will look unprofessional, confuse some readers and make material easily dated.