MATH 6627: Writing Reports: Seven Basic Principles

From MathWiki

From Jane E. Miller (2004) The Chicago Guide to Writing About Numbers. University of Chicago Press

Seven Basic Principles

  1. Set the context with the W's: who, what, when and where.
  2. Choose effective examples and analogies:
    1. Use simple familar examples that your audience will be able to understand and relate to.
    2. Select contrasts that are realistic under real-world circumstances.
  3. Choose vocabulary to suit your reader or audience.
    1. Define terms in ways they will understand
    2. Replace jargon and symbols with familar expressions for non-technical audiences
  4. Decide whether to present numbers in text, tables and/or graphs.
    1. How many numbers?
    2. How much time or effort available to grasp data.
    3. Do your readers need exact values?
  5. Report and interpret numbers in the text
    1. Report them and specify their purpose
    2. Interpret them and relate them back to the main topic
  6. Specify both the direction and size of an association between variables
    1. If it's a trend is it rising or falling?
    2. If it's a difference across groups of places, which has the highest (or lowest if lowest is important) value and by how much
  7. To describe a patten involving many numbers, summarize the overall pattern rather than repeating all the numbers:
    1. Find a generalization that fits most of the data
    2. Report a few illustrative numbers
    3. Describe exceptions to the general pattern