West Virginia University
Department of Chemical Engineering
Written Design Reports
The format for presenting a written design report differs from that of a laboratory report.
laboratory report is more of a scholarly endeavor in which a scientific story is told starting with
theory, proceeding through results, discussion, and conclusion.
It is usually assumed that the
reader will read the entire report.
In a design report, the most important conclusions should
appear early in the report, with more detail presented for the reader who reads further into the
Such is the way of business, where you must effectively convey the bottom line to
someone who may not have the time to read the entire report.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
It is important to write using correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
incorrect grammar, incorrect word usage, and incorrect punctuation make a poor impression on
They can deflect attention from quality technical work.
There is no reason for
incorrectly spelled words in any report.
Spell checkers identify incorrectly spelled words for
you, and they also identify words that are often confused with each other.
You still must
proofread carefully, since a spell checker will not identify a correctly spelled incorrect word
“too” instead of “two.”).
For those of you who are unsure of the correct use of punctuation, grammar, etc., the web
is a good reference.
In general, first person (pronouns “I,” “we,” “me”) should be avoided.
The passive voice
should be used.
(“It was done” instead of “I/we did it.”)
The passive voice will be flagged by
your grammar checker unless you disable that option.
Others may tell you not to use the passive
voice; however, we think it is more formal, and therefore “better,” than the alternative.
Addressing the reader should also be avoided.
(“You should do this.”
The report should be written as a recommendation, not as if the process is already built
(unless it is already built!).
Therefore, avoid stating
“A 10 m
reactor was installed.”
write “It is recommended that a 10 m
reactor be used.”
Avoid using active verbs with inanimate objects.
For example, “This report optimizes …” is
incorrect, because a report, which is inanimate, cannot optimize.
Instead, try “This report
contains the optimization of …”
The most common punctuation errors are the omission of commas and the misuse of semi-
Commas must be used to separate introductory phrases and subordinate clauses from the
subject of the sentence.
For example, there must be a comma in the following sentence before