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Technical writing. November 19 , 2012. Today. Intro to short reports (proposals) . Tone Exercises. 1. Northern must ask for help from Vardizon . - This is an order. - “ask” & “help” are informal terms. Northern should request assistance from Vardizon . Tone Exercises.

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technical writing

Technical writing

November 19 , 2012


Intro to short reports (proposals)

tone exercises
Tone Exercises.

1. Northern must ask for help from Vardizon.

- This is an order.

- “ask” & “help” are informal terms.

Northern should request assistance from Vardizon.

tone exercises1
Tone Exercises.

2. The manager will not inform you about the malfunction. You must investigate the matter yourself.

- Use hedging to avoid directly giving responsibility if you are uncertain.

- This is an order.

The manager may fail to inform you about the malfunction. Perhaps you should investigate the matter yourself.

tone exercises2
Tone Exercises.

3. First, determine what caused the reduction in sales.

- Another order.

You should first determine what caused the reduction in sales.

tone exercises3
Tone Exercises.

4. Your mistake was that you delayed your decision so long.

- Too critical.

- Lacks specific information.

If you had not postponed your decision, you could have avoided <ISSUE>.

tone exercises4
Tone Exercises.

5. Note that it was silly for the company to buy those products at such a high cost.

- Too critical and uses informal language.

The company should not have purchased those products at such a high cost.

tone exercises5
Tone Exercises.

6. You need to figure out which employees lack the necessary skills to manufacture rings.

- Order.

You should determine which employees lack the necessary skills to manufacture rings.

tone exercises6
Tone Exercises.

7. Note that you have to reconsider the new proposal.

- Order.

I suggest reconsidering the new proposal.

tone exercises7
Tone Exercises.

8. The problem with your company is that a number of your managers are not working efficiently. You need to consider how you may improve the quality of their work.

- Too critical.

- Yet another order.

Unfortunately, a number of your managers are not working efficiently. I suggest you evaluate how you may improve the quality of their work.

tone exercises8
Tone Exercises.

9. I am not an expert in this subject, but I will try my best to analyze this problem.

- Negative assessment of the writer.

Based on the information you provided, I will analyze the problem.

tone exercises9
Tone Exercises.

10. My recommendations have helped you determine ...

- Arrogant.

Hopefully my recommendations will help you determine…

My recommendations should be useful in determining…

short reports and proposals
Short Reports and Proposals

Also known as “informal” or “semiformal” report is an organized presentation of relevant info/data on any topic.

May indicate that:

  • Work is being completed
  • Schedules are being met
  • Costs have been contained
  • Sales projections are being met
  • Unexpected problems have been solved
types of short reports
Types of Short Reports

The six most common types of short reports are:

  • Periodic reports. Provide readers with information at regularly scheduled intervals.
  • Sales reports. Provide businesses with financial and managerial information.
  • Progress reports. Inform readers about the status of ongoing projects.
  • Travel reports. Document business trips and how they affect ongoing or future business.
  • Incident reports. Outline unexpected events that interfere or threaten normal, safe business operations.
  • Proposals. Details a plan of action that is submitted to a reader for approval.

A proposal is a detailed plan of action that is submitted to a reader (or group of readers) for approval.

These readers are usually in a position of authority (supervisors, managers, etc.).

They are able to endorse or reject the proposal.


The purpose of the proposal:

Convince the readers that your plan will be beneficial:


- Improve business. - Save money. - Enhance a company’s image. - Improve customer satisfaction. - Improve working conditions.

Your plan may do one of these, or a combination.


As you can guess, proposals are written for many purposes and many different audiences.


An internal proposal to your boss seeking authorization to hire staff or purchase new equipment.

A sales proposal to potential customers, offering a product or service.


Proposals can vary greatly in size and scope.

  • A formal proposal can be very long (100+pages) and complex.
  • An internal proposal to your employer, though, can be accomplished in a 2 or 3 page memo (sometimes shorter).

i.e., A proposal for a new business district development project


redecorating the waiting room at a doctor’s office.

proposals are persuasive plans
Proposals are Persuasive Plans

To succeed, proposals must be highly persuasive.

Enthusiasm is not enough.

“We really, really, really wanna hire a new assistant for the IB department. It will make work much easier!”

- Is not persuasive.

Hard evidence is required to be persuasive.

proposals are persuasive plans1
Proposals are Persuasive Plans

“We really, really, really wanna hire a new assistant for the IB department. It will make work much easier!”

  • Hard evidence is required to be persuasive.


-Currently only one IB assistant. - Assistant is overworked (works 10 hours overtime/week). - Not able to assist all faculty members. - Work moves slowly (currently can take more than 1 day to get assistance).

- Hiring an additional assistant will increase efficiency of assistance. - Will save time and increase job satisfaction for both administrative staff and faculty members.

proposals are persuasive plans2
Proposals are Persuasive Plans

Proposals must convince readers that the plan is:

  • Relevant.
  • Practical.
  • Based upon careful research.
  • Designed to help the reader and his/her organization.
proposals are persuasive plans3
Proposals are Persuasive Plans

Proposals require a “can do” attitude.

The tone should be:

“Here is what I can do for you.”

“This is how my plan will help you.”

internal proposals
Internal Proposals


Offer a realistic and constructive plan to help your organization run its business more efficiently (and economically).

internal proposals1
Internal Proposals

Generally, internal proposals are written as a 1 – 3 page memo.

internal proposals common topics
Internal Proposals – Common Topics
  • Purchasing new or more advanced equipment to replace current equipment.
  • Recruiting new employees or retraining current ones.
  • Eliminating a dangerous condition or reducing an environmental risk to prevent accidents.
  • Cutting costs.
  • Improving something (services, communications, efficiency).
organizing internal proposals
Organizing Internal Proposals

Look at the sample proposal.

What do you notice about its organization?

What sections do you see?

What kind of information is used?

organizing internal proposals1
Organizing Internal Proposals

Main Sections:

The Purpose

The Problem

The Solution or Plan

The Conclusion


Memo format

Clear subject

Clearly states why proposal is being sent

Takes into account organization’s mission

Identifies problem by giving reader essential background information based on research

Provides easy-to-read table


Divides problem into parts-




customer service

Emphasizes the cost if nothing is done

Cites important research

Verifies that the problem is widespread

Relates solution to individual parts of the problem

Bullet points make recommendations easy to read and follow


Shows problem can be solved and stresses how

Photo shows location has room for additional ATM

Documents that work can be done on time and highlights advantage of doing it now

Itemizes costs


Interprets cost for reader

Prove change is cost-effective, citing specific financial evidence

Ends by stressing benefits for reader and bank as a whole

Finishes by thanking reader

the purpose
The Purpose

Begin purpose with a brief statement of why you are writing to you supervisor:

“I/We propose…”

- State immediately why you think a specific change is necessary now.

- Then, define the problem and emphasize that your plan (if approved) will solve that problem.

the problem
The Problem

Prove that a problem exists:

Document its importance for your boss and organization.

- The more you show (with evidence) how the problem affects management's work, the more persuasive you will be.

the problem1
The Problem

Avoid vague generalizations:

“We’re losing money each day with this piece of equipment.”

“Costs continue to increase.”

“Numerous complaints have come in.”

“If something isn’t done soon, more problems will result.”

“Our building will explode!!”

the problem2
The Problem

Provide quantifiable details about the problem:

- The amount of money or time the company is losing per day, week, or month.

  • The number of accidents that occur each year due to an unsafe procedure.

Documenting these details allows you to show (in the next section) how your plan offers an efficient, workable solution.

the problem3
The Problem

Indicate how many employees (or work hours) are involved.

How many customers are inconvenienced or endangered by a procedure.

 See the table in our sample.

the problem4
The Problem

Verify how widespread or frequent the problem is by citing specific occasions.

 In this sample: provides evidence from the Watson-Perry, Inc. survey AND from interviews with Rachel Harris-Kyoto.

the problem5
The Problem

Relate the problem to the organization’s image, corporate mission, or influence.

  • Show exactly how and where the problem lessens your organization’s effectiveness or hurts its image.
  • - Who - How
  •  In the sample: Indicates how the problem hurt’s the company’s image.
the solution or plan
The Solution or Plan

Describe how you will make your proposed change and demonstrate the likelihood of success.

- The reader will again expect factual evidence.

the solution or plan1
The Solution or Plan

Be specific. Supply details to answer:

  • Is the plan doable, possible? - Can it be accomplished here?
  • Is it cost-effective? - Will it really save/earn us money in the long run?
the solution or plan2
The Solution or Plan

Provide factual evidence you have gathered as a result of your research.

i.e., if you propose that your firm buy a new piece of equipment, locate the most efficient and cost-effective model available (like our example).

  • Supply dealer’s name, costs, installation time, necessary service and training contracts, warranties.
  • Describe how the firm can use the equipment to obtain better or quicker results in the future.
  • Document specific tasks the new equipment can perform more efficiently than the models you use now.
the solution or plan3
The Solution or Plan

If the proposal is to change a procedure, it must address:

  • How does the new procedure work?
  • How many employees or customers will be affected?
  • When will it go into operation (begin)?
  • How much will it cost us to change procedures or add new equipment, services, or staff?
  • What delays or losses in business might be expected while we switch procedures?
  • What employees, equipment, or locations are already available to accomplish the change?
the solution or plan4
The Solution or Plan


COSTS will be the most important thing on the mind of the decision-making reader.

Make sure to provide a careful and accurate budget.


Make the costs attractive by emphasizing how inexpensive they are compared to the cost of NOT making the change.

the solution or plan5
The Solution or Plan

Link costs to savings and other benefits.

 In this sample : States that the initial cost, though higher than that for a new employee, actually saves money in the long run.

the solution or plan6
The Solution or Plan

Mention alternative solutions (before the reader does), and discuss their disadvantages..

 In this sample: Shows why installing an ATM is better than hiring a fifth bank teller.

the conclusion
The Conclusion

Should be short (one paragraph, two at the very most).

Remind readers that:

a) the problem is ongoing and serious.

b) the reason for change is justified and will benefit your organization.

c) action needs to be taken and by a specified time.

Re-emphasize the most important advantages.

the conclusion1
The Conclusion

Our sample:

- Stresses the savings the bank will see by following the proposed plan.

- Also mentions increase in customer satisfaction.

the conclusion2
The Conclusion

End by:

- indicating that you are willing to discuss your plan with the reader and seek his/her input.

- Thank the reader(s) for considering your proposal.


Assignment 6: Proposal – see website information sheet.