Best practices for a good English-written technical report

French speaking students and academics are too comfortable with French that they may face some difficulties when it’s about writing their technical reports, for the first or the second time, in English. I tried to gather through this article the best practices and expressions to be able to write awesome things in the language of science.

– Some very first basis: Never use the singular personal pronoun. Sentences beginning with “we” in the passive form are much better seen than sentences starting with “I”.

– I personally use the passive form, when possible, rather than the active one. “Who did what” it less important than the “what” itself. Scientists are interested in the “what is done” not who did it, unless it’s about a famous person.

– When it is about English, we should forget words written in capital letters. Writing in capital letters in English is like shouting at someone and it is very negative not only in technical reports.

– Here are some translations of French technical words, so that we avoid translation mistakes:

  • Conception: Design
  • Etat de l’art: Assessment of the current situation
  • Résumé: Abstract
  • Dédicace: Dedication
  • Remerciements: Acknowledgements
  • Table des matières: Content
  • Tables des figures: List of Figures
  • Présentation Générale: Overview / General Presentation (it depends on the context)
  • Objectif: purpose (and not “objective”! “Objective” is used in other contexts)
  • Spécification des besoins: Requirements specification; besoins fonctionnels / non fonctionnels : functional / non functional requirements.
  • Cahier des charges: Requirements specification Sheet.
  • Délai d’attente: timeout (and not deadline!)
  • Réalisation: Achievements
  • Cas de test: Test case
  • Implémentation et Validation: stay the same (Implemtentation and Validation)
  • Livrable: Deliverable
  • Chronolgie du projet: Project timeline
  • Appendice: Appendix
  • Glossaire: Glossary
  • Netographie: as far as I know, this concept doesn’t exist in English, it’s included in Biography

–          Declaration of Confidentiality in English:

This document and its contents are the property of –company–. No intellectual property rights are granted for forwarding this document or its contents. This document must as well not be reproduced or disclosed to any third party without an explicit written permission from –company–.

This document and its contents shall not be used for purposes other than those authorized. The statements contained in this document do not constitute a commercial offer. They are based on the mentioned assumptions and are expressed in good faith. If the reasons for these statements are not shown, –company– would be willing to explain the basis thereof.

–          Finally, here are some screenshots of my personal dedications and acknowledgements when I just completed my Diploma Thesis Report.

Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements

 

As a conclusion, it’s only by learning and doing that we can improve our knowledge. Practice and reading are the best ways to know how to write well in English. I would be very glad of the ideas and the contribution of the readers to improve this article and identify some eventual mistakes.

The next article will treat how to write a good report with Latex and perfectly reshape its structure. I am preparing a good Latex template to share it very soon.

 

Dedication
Dedication

Good luck for anyone who is writing his English technical report!

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