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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 1.14.1


Use standard document formats to help organize your material into widely accepted arrangements. Most work-related documents have evolved standardized formats for the arrangement of material. Reports, for example, typically begin with the title page, which is followed by the abstract, the table of contents, and so on. Formats help reduce material into predictable patterns for readers. Formats also call out logical arrangements appropriate to given kinds of methods, data, and subjects. These conventions save time in at least two ways: they provide writers an organizing and data-reduction tool, and they help readers anticipate how the document's subject matter is arranged.

Some documents that have widely recognized format conventions are:


research reports

technical articles

trip reports

design reports




Many document elements also follow standard formats; some of these elements are:

graphs and figures


citations (bibliography, footnotes, parenthetical references)

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